by Taetske | 2:32 pm
(Last Updated On: January 11, 2019)

 

 

The ecosystem of the Sahel is in serious danger

 

Do you know where Senegal is situated? It is on the west coast of Africa. This country, just like most African countries with a coastline, is having serious problems with plastic waste. Plastic is invading their country and putting the ecosystem at risk.

2 Years ago Senegal forbade the use, production, and importation of plastic wrappings of less than 30 microns. This is the type of plastic that is used for wrapping fruits or vegetables just to be thrown away afterward. This ban has not really helped and the country is literally being invaded by plastic.

 

desert

Desert

 

The National Park de la Langue de Barbarie

You can see the famous Boab tree with unusual black strips in its crown, moved by the wind. It covers vast areas and mixes with organic and other waste.   The expansion of plastic can be seen everywhere, not only on the beaches but slowly but surely this plastic wave is moving inland. It has reached the National Park de la Langue de Barbarie where it suffocates birds and turtles. The plastic contaminates the salinas of fisher port Gandiol and has even ruined the Bahia of the capital Dakar. It has become a waste dump of domestic and industrial leftovers.

 

plastic waste in harbour

Plastic waste in the harbor

 

There is the idea of a combined project between the World Bank and the local government to construct a recycling plant at the biggest waste dump of the city. But the situation in the country is unsustainable and therefore requires a much bigger and ambitious action plan.

The African continent seems to be one of the most affected ones. They are not the main producers of plastic, but modern life is invading them with all the plastic which is included. 10 Countries have already banned plastic bags but there is no means to treat this avalanche of plastic waste. Plastic not only covers the shorelines of the coasts along the Atlantic Ocean, the problem affects coastlines of the Indian Ocean as well.

 

garbage on the beach

Garbage on the beach

 

Cattle feed on plastic

In Kenia, the roadsides are covered with windblown plastics where cattle graze freely. Authorities have communicated that of 10 sacrificed animals at least 3 had plastic pieces in their stomach. Last year, after the prohibition of using plastics, this level is down to only 1 in 10 animals which have Polyethylene (plastic) inside. The old colony of Britain used to distribute 100.000.000 of plastic bags a year. When these bags are abandoned, it will take a total of 500 years to decompose.

The government of Nairobi and the Al Shabaab (the Islamic militia), have both taken measures to stop the plastic from advancing. The guerilla force has been called, ironically, the first ecological jihadist organization.

Ruanda, some 10 years ago, was the pioneer with a strict prohibition on plastic to try and help save cattle and the obstruction of the waterways. This gave a boost to the paper industry. Severe control measures were put in place to check on businesses and hotels.

 

 

Climate Change and Consumerism

One has to take 2 important things into account. First comes climate change resulting in less water and more desert. On the other side, we have consumerism which creates more waste. All this causing an environmental catastrophe. It can be observed that the desertification of the total region goes parallel with the contamination.

Between 1990 and 2015 Worldwide 8.300 million tons of plastic were produced. Of this huge amount, only 9% was recycled.

10 Million bags are produced each minute. One thinks that by the year 2030 the world will produce 619 million tons of plastic.

Millions of birds and 100 million sea mammals die each year because they eat plastic or are entangled and suffocate. The plastic pollution in the seas also impacts the fish and shellfish population and this is a direct link to the food source of the human species. Fish that consume plastic continues to reach our dinner tables.  No, you may not be able to see the plastic in the fish but the by-product of the biological decomposition of plastic can be deposited in the muscle mass of the fish. Nothing like a little polyethylene flavoring for your Flounder.

 

The Big Green Wall

An idea was born, some time ago, to make a big green wall to help control the expansion of the Sahara. Over the years this idea has been modified and changed. The implementing of the idea at a heightened speed could be a big help but for a project of this size, where the collaboration of many countries is required, is not so easy.

The poverty and wars which exist in African countries make it difficult for people to think outside of pure existence issues and they cannot afford the luxury of taking action to solve this problem. These people have other worries on their mind. Where will I find food today, will I survive another day, these are thoughts we normally do not think of. We will be more occupied with less serious things like getting the latest fashion dress, play that game of golf or go with our friends to see the new movie. Our worlds are so different, it is difficult to really understand what it means to live in such a country.

 

The health hazard of standing water

An added problem is when all this trash lands in the water clogging up the waterways. Standing water is the breeding environment for mosquitoes which can transmit Malaria or Dengue. Add to this the fact that the most common method of eliminating plastic is to burn it.  When burning plastic, products such as Benzene, Toluene, Carbon Monoxide, Dioxins, and many, more harmful, compounds are released.

This is worrying data. 10 big rivers are responsible for 95% of the pollution of the oceans. This fact is very upsetting and calls for an urgent solution. This will not be easy as it means a re-education and a change of lifestyle for millions of people. The lack of funds to help coordinate this change is so often missing.

 

The polluted river Niger

Coming back to the Sahel, which is one of the areas worldwide with the least water treatment installations, its river Niger has become degraded. Having been an important area of biodiversity now, through uncontrolled petrol exploitation, it has turned into the most harmful river in the world. It is said that the African plastic plague has traveled and is now responsible for the degradation of the ecosystems in Mauricio and Seychelles.

Worldwide, there are ingenious people who have produced some amazing machines for cleaning up the environment. Do have a look at this video.

 

 

The second video is quite amazing. A huge ocean cleaner, do have a look.

 

Are there solutions to this problem?

It seems that the prohibition of plastic use is the best solution for the moment. Luckily there are people who have turned the plastic plague into something beneficial as the plastic is getting a second use.  In Pikine, an area of Dakar, people have used plastic to make roofs and walls, helping them to construct their homes.

 

Source: Newspaper Sur, 4th of Aug. 2018. Article by Gerardo Elorriaga

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

Perhaps you like to read my other post on an unusual solution for plastic waste.

Unique and Interesting new systems for Bio-degradation of Plastic

 

 

Comments

Nate

I’m studying environmental biology, and unfortunately the problem of how plastic affects animals and ecosystems has become all too familiar in a bad way. It’s nice knowing that people are coming up with solutions like the ocean cleaner to fix the problem, but frustrating knowing that plastic is still getting into rivers and causing problems.

Sep 11.2018 | 03:20 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Nate,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. Plastic is a huge environmental problem and us humans are causing it. These new inventions of cleaning machines are helping of course but not all countries can afford to buy them. The human race has to change its behavioral pattern to really make a big change as otherwise there will be no Fauna, Flora and in the end, Humans left on the planet.

    Regards, Taetske

    Sep 11.2018 | 06:53 am

Jayde Butcher

I didn’t know where Sanagal was situated before now. Plastic waste is such a problem , and can be so dangerous I know that, but I had no idea that this was a issue to this extend. Its terrible! We must do something about this. Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. I hope others see this too and want to change it.

Oct 16.2018 | 03:50 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Jayde,

    I personally visited Senegal once but only its capital Dakar. I was working as a tourist guide and flew from the Canarian Islands to Dakar for 1 day. It was very interesting but of course too short. This happened in 1975 so it is a long time ago. In those days one did not hear much yet about the plastic pollution which has become a huge problem nowadays.

    Thank you for your comment, I hope to see you again.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 16.2018 | 05:04 pm

Sujandar Mahesan

Day by day the consumption of plastic is really high by all the people in this world. This article proves my point and explains every single thing about this plastic issues. You showed 2 videos with machines that can clean up this plastic mess. I hope many countries will use those machines in the future. This article was really easy to understand and easy to read for me.

Thank you so much for sharing this article with us.

Jan 12.2019 | 07:23 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Sujandar,

    Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.

    There is too much plastic in the world and it is time to first clean up this waste and also look for alternatives. It is a scandal we ruin our environment with this waste which also harms animal life. Big solutions are asked for.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 13.2019 | 07:07 am

Jean

It is sad to see how the former beautiful ecosystem of Sahel being in serious danger. Even though Senegal has banned the use, use and production of plastic wrappings; it has had little effect on changing the trend. All the garbage thrown there is also killing thousands of birds & animals. Your article motivates me more to restore the forests in Haiti. Anyway, keep dropping that good content.

Jan 12.2019 | 07:24 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Jean,

    Thank you for your visit and your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    In our modern life, too many things are made of plastic. Think back when little children had wooden toys, that is a long time ago. It is possible to make biodegradable plastics and Hemp can also be used for many things. It is urgent we rethink our actions before it is too late. It is a good idea to restore the forest of your home country. Each person should at least plant 1 tree in his or her life.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 13.2019 | 07:12 am

Alejandra

Hi Taetske.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write a good article to read about his topic.

It’s terrible what is going on, as we all go to a store to get some products for our “normal life”, we get what we need and today, all we get from a store come wrapped in plastic.

Far are the days, where we used to go to the market and we could get the food to feed a family and everything wasn’t wrapped in plastic and everything was placed in a basket.

As I get home today, I love to home cooking, and I can notice all the plastic I get home from the grocery store, today I know as I place all this plastic in the trash can, many of it will get far from here, and it will add a little more to this huge problem.

I will do my best to go to the farmers marker during the good weather months, farmers don’t sell their products wrapped in plastic and this way I will help the planet and I will also help the local farmers to keep doing what they love to do, produce food for everyone!

Take care, your friend from Quebec!

Alejandra. 

Jan 12.2019 | 07:30 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Alejandra,

    Nature provides most of her products with natural wrapping, the skin or peel. There should be no need to again wrap it in plastic. Normally in the weekly markets, one can buy fruits and vegetables without plastic and that is the best. When I come home with plastic bags I always give it a second use.  

    Going shopping we always take our own cloth bags and that also helps. When we bring the waste up to the street we have separated plastic, glass, cardboard and paper, and the leftover waste. It goes into different containers. The bio waste from the kitchen we dig in the vegetable garden, very good for the soil.

    Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment on my website. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Saludos from the Costa del Sol.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 13.2019 | 07:21 am

Winslow

Plastic trash is becoming a worldwide problem. Here in the US, we are banning straws and other plastic products that find there way into the oceans as well as lakes and rivers. The basic problem, as I see it, is people not understanding that the one little piece of trash that they throw on the ground adds up tremendously with others trash. 

I think that teaching conservation in schools would be a great way to start. I remember that years ago when I was in North Africa the oil tankers would flush there tanks and distribute oil on the beaches. Plastic had not become a problem as yet but it is a serious issue now.

Thank you for your research and putting the info out there for us all.

Winslow  

Jan 12.2019 | 07:31 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Winslow,

    Thank you for your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    I agree with you. At school, the students should be taught to take care of the environment. Actually, this should already start at home. When a little child drops candy wrapping or a piece of chewing gum on the ground the parents should interfere and show the child to use the waste bin. How often does one not see people driving in their car and throwing things out of the window?

    We all like to live in a beautiful and clean planet so it is high time solutions are found to this man-made waste. It is possible to make things from biodegradable plastic. The last post on my other website is on Corona Beer who will make new 6 pack rings that do not harm our environment anymore killing all kinds of animals. So there is still hope that slowly but surely the human race does something to eradicate this problem.

    Regards, Taetske 

    Jan 13.2019 | 07:37 am

Dennis

Great Expose’ of the grandest environmental problem in my eyes. Just the production of plastic is extremely harmful to the environment then as trash it virtually never goes away. As you noted it becoming part of the fish!

As a lifelong scuba diver I have seen so many changes. Groups of divers have been cleaning the shoreline ever since divers have been around. When I started we found tires n beer cans, nowadays its bags full of plastic UGH! We have taken to using dive bags to collect them to cut down on using the plastic bags~~~

I wasn’t aware the problem was so bad in Africa, I knew about the problem in the Pacific. Theres a great video on youtube about how bad it is in Bali 

We have to get it at the source now and stop producing it. My idea is to go plant based [plastic like Hemp and Seaweed. Theres an article I read about the Hemp plastic on a site that is hempme. Really lays out what is going on and the roadblocks facing the production. If we spent the last 100 years developing that instead of petroleum based plastic think what the world would look like? biodegradable!

What do you think? I know the waste is the foremost problem but the big picture tells me to stop making it!

onward n upward

Jan 12.2019 | 08:04 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Dennis,

    Nice to see you. Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Yes, plastic is one of our biggest problems. It is possible to make biodegradable plastic. I wrote a post on my other website about that. The 6 pack rings on beer are one of the big dangers to birds and marine life. Luckily there are companies like Corona Beer who will change the harmful rings for biodegradable ones. More beer companies will follow.

    Here in the south of Spain, there is a new movement, people buy vegetables and fruits without plastic wrappings. Bars will not serve drinks with plastic straws changing to paper ones.

    Hemp can be used for so many things, from toilet paper to building houses, actually quite amazing. Before cotton clothing became popular most was made from hemp. The cotton industry is also a problem as so much water is wasted. A lot of things have to change on all fronts to make our planet clean and beautiful again. Future generations also want to live here.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 13.2019 | 07:49 am

      captdennis

      We are definately on the same page! Yes i agree if we went to plant based plastics the world would be so much better of. From the straws you mentioned to another huge trash proiblem , plastic baby diapers LOL all this stuff could be made out of plant based material be biodegradable and turn into fertilizer not poison.
      Keep us aware of whats going on there please!
      Do you know of any Hemp clothoing manufac turers in Spain? You hit one of my sore spots as we have to have 20%cotton in all imports due to a trade thing from years ago protecting the american cotton farmers. Cotton is so bad for the ground when growing it too!

      onward n upward

      Jan 15.2019 | 03:40 am

        Taetske

        Good Morning Dennis,

        Thank you for your second visit and comment.
        I found a company in Madrid which may be what you are looking for.
        I also wrote a post on fashion and cotton, what is happening in the world is really awful. Internet comes up with different numbers but between 1000 to 2000 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pair of jeans, ( 7.600 liters )
        I know a lot of countries are doing their best but there are sadly some which go in the wrong direction. One has to deeply think before choosing one’s leader.

        Regards, Taetske

        Jan 15.2019 | 07:21 am

          captdennis

          Thanks so much for that link. Awesome, I looked it over n already sent an email! We’ll see what comes of it Thanks again
          Cotton is so destructive a material from growth stage to material. I never knew anything like that about Jeans phew and we all worry about water.
          Have you heard California wants to put a tax on water consumption and they are even talking about rationing? WOW remember California is a land of it’s own LOL
          Politics does take such a role as now governments are heavy into trade. A lot of times more concerned with the bottom line instantly.
          onward n upward

          Jan 15.2019 | 10:45 pm

          Taetske

          Good Morning Dennis,

          Good to hear the link is what you were looking for.
          I had not heard about Californias idea to put a tax on water. If people continue misusing it perhaps that is the only way to become conscious of the fact that water belongs to all people. We tend to waste a lot when there are places in this world where people have to walk miles to get their drinking water.
          I am sending you the link of one of my posts which show we have to change our ways.
          https://motherearthstreasures.com/why-fashion-has-a-negative-impact-on-the-environment
          Regards, Taetske

          Jan 16.2019 | 07:21 am

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