The Cold, Hard Facts: Trash Collected on the Beaches of Akumal

On the sunny and beautiful morning of Saturday March 30, the Centro Ecológico Akumal (Akumal Ecological Center) got together a team of employees and volunteers for a few hours spent cleaning the beaches of the town of Akumal, a charming little tourist spot located in the southern Riviera Maya.

The team searched through an impressive 1.5 kilometers of beach (about 1 mile) and was able to uncover over 30 kg of waste. Check the infographic below for an eye-opening summary of the items found while cleaning the mile of beach in Akumal:

CEA Beach Clean Up in Akumal

That’s a lot of missing shoes.

Results like this can make us wonder how will these numbers change for Akumal in upcoming years? Just how much garbage is there to clean up along the remaining 70 miles of the Riviera Maya coast? What do the numbers look like for the waste found (or just left behind) at high-traffic beaches like Playa del Carmen and Cancun? How much trash is each of us leaving behind on our day trips to the beach?

The Akumal beach clean-up took place just a few weeks after Spring Break season and right in the middle of Mexico’s “Semana Santa”, a 2-week springtime vacation period where Mexicans travel all over the country to visit family or just go to the beach. Many foreign and local travelers made the trip out to the Riviera Maya during the month of March, crowding the usually calm and quiet beaches of Akumal.

The Centro Ecológico Akumal frequently participates in local Riviera Maya eco efforts. Created in 1993, they have their own sea turtle protection program that includes research, conservation and management on four area beaches. Locals also participate in the center’s monthly recycling drives, gathering a few tons worth of recyclable waste, mostly glass and also materials like cardboard, plastic and vegetable oil.

akumal beaches

Want to learn more about their efforts? Check out the Centro Ecológico Akumal Facebook page.