• Michael Stachowitsch


We are used to being surrounded by trash and may even have heard of the garbage piles left by Himalayan expeditions or of space debris. But we are personally irked when confronted with the stuff while on vacation on the shores and waterways we somehow perceive as being pristine. You may call it trash, rubbish, litter, garbage, refuse, junk, or flotsam and jetsam, but specialists refer to it as marine debris or beach litter. Beyond the esthetics, it poses a serious threat to wildlife, a menace to fisheries and boating, a health hazard to humans, a scourge for sustainable tourism, and an economic threat to coastal communities. Fortunately, this is one type of pollution that we as individuals can actually do something about. Learn the 6 “R”s and the important “U” (upscaling), and become part of the solution both as a consumer and as a guest on the beach. The first step is recognizing beaches as living environments worthy of protection. Become a beach detective, and learn to identify and understand glass, plastic, metal, wood, paper, and oil, along with other products and materials in their unending variations, combinations, and unsavory states of decomposition. Then get into action, have a little fun in the process, and be part of the solution in helping to preserve this wonderful barefoot environment.


Beach litter Coastal cleanups Garbage Habitat degradation Hazardous materials Marine debris Marine pollution Recycling Solid waste Trash Upcycling Volunteers 


  1. 1.
    Brown AC, McLachlan A (1990) Ecology of sandy shores. Elsevier, Amsterdam, p 328Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Shore & Beach, American Shore & Beach Preservation Association.
  3. 3.
    Acosta ATR, Jucker T et al (2013) Passive recovery of Mediterranean coastal dunes following limitations to human trampling. In: Martínez et al (eds) Restoration of coastal dunes, Springer Series on Environmental Management. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 187–198. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    UNEP (2009) Marine Litter: A global challenge. Nairobi; Marine Litter. UNEP/GPA & UNEP/RS.
  5. 5.
    Coe JM, Rogers D (1996) In: Alexander DE (ed) Marine debris, Springer series on environmental management. Springer, New York, p 430Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bergman M, Gutow M, Klages M (2015) Marine anthropogenic litter. Springer, Cham, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London, p 447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
  8. 8.
    Trewhella S, Hatcher J (2015) The essential guide to beachcombing and the strandline. Wild Nature Press, Plymouth, p 304Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Timrott J (2015) Strandgut aus Plastik. Wachholtz Verlag, Kiel/Hamburg, p 112Google Scholar
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
    Rathje W, Murphy C (1992) Rubbish! The archeology of garbage. Harper Collins, New York, p 250Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Parker L (2017) How an uninhabited island got the world’s highest density of trash.
  13. 13.
    Gregory MR (2009) Environmental implications of plastic debris in marine settings – entanglement, ingestion, smothering, hangers-on, hitch-hiking and alien invasions. Phil Trans R Soc B 364:2013–2025. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Mayell H (2002) Ocean litter gives alien species an easy ride.
  15. 15.
    Jang YC, Hong S, Lee J, Lee MJ, Shim WJ (2014) Estimation of lost tourism revenue in Geoje Island from 2011 marine debris pollution event in South Korea. Mar Pollut Bull 81(1):49–54. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
  17. 17.
  18. 18.
    Cho D-O (2009) The incentive program for fishermen to collect marine debris in Korea. Mar Pollut Bull 58(3):415–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Butt H (2007) The impact of cruise ship generated waste in home ports and ports of call: a study of Southampton. Mar Policy (5):591–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Princess Cruise Lines to pay largest-ever criminal penalty for deliberate vessel pollution. The United States Dept. of Justice.
  21. 21.
    Rudolph F (2015) Gefährliche Strandfunde. Wachholtz Murmann Publishers, Kiel/Hamburg, p 96Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Trash-free waters. United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  23. 23.
  24. 24.
    Walker K (2007) Recycle, reduce, reuse, rethink. Macmillan Education Australia, South Yarra, p 176Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    What you can do about marine debris. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Stachowitsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Limnology and Bio-OceanographyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations