Do you join local sightseeing tours? These tours typically take tourist to visit heritage sites and old districts, or explore the countryside and so on. Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has been offering a unique sightseeing experience -- visiting the canals to fish for plastics. Just imagine, the highlight of this tour is scooping up wastes and catching plastic bags. Why would someone fly overseas and pay to work as a street cleaner? The irony is that not only do tourists line up to join these tours, they all give it a big thumbs up for being a fun and must-visit experience in Amsterdam.
With eco-tours gaining global popularity in recent years, the Plastic Whale tour in Amsterdam has been extremely well received since its inception eight years ago. On this two-hour canal boat ride, fishing nets and thick gloves are provided for scooping up plastic wastes while cruising across a city rich in European heritage. Tourists often assume the Dutch cares a great deal about the environment. Much to their surprise, the canals are often littered with wastes, from shoes and wine bottles to ski glove and nappies -- sometimes even a whole pineapple can be spotted.
Amsterdam's canal waste issue might be related to its thriving tourism industry, which in 2018 welcomed 18 million tourists, even more than the entire country's 17 million population. Some people resort to littering as garbage bins often fill up quickly. Whenever it rains, wastes get flushed into the canals and start accumulating.
Last year, some 12,000 people joined the Plastic Whale tour, averaging out to 33 people every day. Even more significant is the fact that 46,000 plastic bottles were collected and recycled into office furniture or the Plastic Whale boat to give the plastics new life as a useful resource.
Oceans and rivers around the world are filled with plastic wastes. According to a World Economic Forum report, plastic wastes in the oceans have reached 150 million tonnes, which translates to a ratio of one piece of plastic waste for every five fish.* Current trends are projected to result in a one to one ratio by the year 2050, and possibly reaching where plastic wastes outnumber fish. As microorganisms cannot easily break down these wastes, their prolonged presence in the oceans will affect marine ecology. Some marine species may even go extinct, negatively impacting biodiversity significantly. To save the oceans and preserve biodiversity, humanity must back away from plastics. Starting today, let's reduce the use of plastic products!