"Sea currents act like a conveyor belt, depositing trash on a remote stretch of sand in an ecologically rich region of coral reef and mangrove forests. Locals can only pick up the pieces, bit by bit."
"Mahahual, Mexico -- Just off a rutted dirt road, a beach as white as flour pops into view from behind a wall of sea grape and rustling palms. Pelicans slice over turquoise waters, and not a single person stirs the quiet.
The tableau, along a little-developed segment of Mexico's Caribbean coast, is a beachgoer's fantasy of unspoiled seaside splendor. Until you look down.
For as far as the eye can see, the sand glitters with bits of bright color: fragments of trash, thousands and thousands of them, strung like a vast, foul necklace.
Even a quick inventory finds discarded motor-oil cans, hair-gel containers, juice bottles, hub caps, buckets, a soccer ball, flip-flops. Here's a margarine container from the Dominican Republic, there a butter tub from Haiti. The label on a washed-up glue bottle says it's from Central America.
The trashy scene is repeated for miles along this stretch of the southern Yucatan Peninsula, except in spots where the beach is tended by the owners of small hotels and oceanfront houses. Most of the refuse is plastic; many fragments are too small or faded to identify."