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Cancun Officials Plead With Tourists To Stop Leaving Plastic Waste On Beaches 

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Over the last few months there have been a number of beach cleanup operations in Cancun and now officials are again pleading with tourists to stop leaving plastic on the area’s beaches.  Another massive cleanup is scheduled in the coming weeks, with hundreds of volunteers signed up to contribute to the effort to get plastic waste off of Cancun’s shores.  According to officials, plastic is the biggest concern and the waste problem has gotten worst since the Covid pandemic, with gloves and face masks being the most commonly found items. 

Environmentalists are worried about plastic specifically because it is the most detrimental to the flora and fauna in the ocean waters. Not only does it harm sea life but plastic also has a major impact on the coral in the ocean as well.  The pollution from the waste that reaches the water endangers a wide variety of species including sharks, whales, and sea turtles, all of which can get sick or injured from plastic waste. 

The most recent cleanups that have taken place on some of Cancun’s beaches have resulted in the collection of hundreds of pounds of garbage.  Much of this is left behind by tourists that come to enjoy the city’s beautiful beaches, a problem that was diminished during the Covid-19 pandemic because there were fewer people visiting Cancun at the time.  Now since the restrictions have all but disappeared the beaches are packed again and officials are seeing the impact.  

Since Mexico has had minimal restrictions since the virus began to wind down in 2021, and because the borders were never closed, tourists have flocked to popular destinations like Cancun.  In the first few months of the year a record-breaking number of visitors made the Riviera Maya their vacation destination, resulting in millions of tourists enjoying the beaches of Cancun.  Now as summer begins the city is still expecting millions more and while the tourism industry brings in millions of dollars in revenue, it also puts stress on the ecosystems. 

According to Erwin Farret, Regional Marketing Manager of Ventura Entertainment, who organized the most recent beach cleanup this past Saturday and has another one scheduled at the end of the month, the leftover waste from Covid, which includes masks and gloves, has exacerbated the problem.  He stated that “During previous years, beach cleanings were carried out and plastic garbage, cigarette butts, cans, as well as PET waste were noticed, and now the work is added to be able to collect this that the pandemic brought, and that is reaching the ocean, which is not positive.”   

Saturday’s cleanup took place in the Playa Esmeralda area and lasted for approximately two hours, with nearly 600 volunteers pitching in to remove waste from the beaches.  The next one will take place on June 25th in the Playa Delfines area and around the same number of volunteers will likely be there to participate.  While these cleanup efforts certainly help, local officials would like to see tourists refrain from leaving waste behind to begin with. 

perfect isla mujeres beach

In addition to waste on the beaches, the area’s cenotes have suffered from huge amounts of waste as well, which has led to recent cleanup efforts too.  Cenotes are naturally occurring sinkholes that fill with water and are used as swimming holes.  The problem was so bad a few months ago that they actually shut down some of the cenotes so that they could heal from the damage before the busy summer season.  

Until all the beaches and cenotes are cleared of plastic and other waste cleanup efforts will continue in Cancun. In the meantime, officials are pleading for tourists to respect these areas and take care of their trash so everyone can enjoy them for the beautiful natural places that they are. 

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Monday 13th of June 2022

Part of the problem is also educating the Mexican population in Qroo of not littering the streets and beaches. I have seen numerous times where people just throw their trash on the ground.