Beauty and the Dominican Republic

After spending 3 weeks in the Dominican Republic and getting to know the culture and discovering the beauty of the country it pains me to see this footage. Although this is something I noticed even while I was there. Garbage is an issue, whether it’s local or global, whether it’s just a drop of a wrapper strolling along the sidewalk or miles of floating waste land. Commercial waste tends to be the greatest impact, largely from the fishing industry, where large nets once used for catching fish are either lost or purposely dumped into the ocean. For most of us though, it’s not like we choose to throw garbage into the ocean, at least I hope it’s not. Garbage can end up in the oceans in any number of ways. I have seen the wind take napkins and wrappers and flown them across the land without any thought. I am sure that can land up in the water. Any morning walking along the streets of New York on garbage pick up days you can see the immense amount of garbage we produce and how often pieces of it end up on the street. Watching the barges of garbage on the rivers carrying our waste out of sight and out of mind you can see pieces of garbage that slip off into the water. Garbage ends up in the oceans because we produce it. We produce garbage because we consume things and some are necessary but some may not be.

This is a great example of how each one of our actions and participation in the world has a larger impact. We might think, "oh, but it’s just a gum wrapper, it’s so small" or "this shred of plastic wrapping is just one little piece, what effect will this have?". Well, as you can see it can have quite a significant impact. Each piece of garbage we contribute to the world leads to a greater chance it ends up in our waters. This then ends up damaging the waters' ecosystem as well as endangering the animals that live near and in the water.

So what can we do about this? It’s challenging to go 100% no waste. Some things like sterile medical equipment need to be packaged but other things like our food doesn’t necessarily need to be in a plastic bag or container. We could be a little more mindful of the materials that we use and recycle or reuse things when possible. Purchasing things not just out of convenience and disposability but out of necessity and durability. How might this change our patterns and habits?

It adds another layer to our practice, of cultivating mindfulness not only to the personal physical body but considering the bodies of water. We are only human and it may be challenging to apply this in every situation but the more we are conscious of the way we consume things, the way we produce waste may change as well.

Yuuki Hirano