When you think about Sri Lankan beaches you probably imagine picture-postcard shorelines of white sand, sapphire waters and low-hanging palm trees, and quite right too, because they are some of the finest beaches in the world. But what might come as a surprise is the effort that is going on behind the scenes to keep these beaches looking so bloody good.
Beach cleanups, we have discovered, are a common occurrence up and down the coast of Sri Lanka all year round. A gallant mix of locals, expats and passionate holiday-goers take to the shores to tackle the continual onslaught of waste that is either dumped or washed ashore. Anything from plastic bottles to flip-flops to giant polystyrene balls can be seen littering beaches, but with the support of thoughtful, dedicated businesses and individuals, the beaches (and wildlife) are being well looked after.
The majority of our five months in Sri Lanka have been spent on the beach, floating down and around the South Coast. Two of those months were spent in Hiriketiya, a small and relatively unscathed horseshoe bay with good surf and a lot of sun. It wasn’t long after our arrival in Hiriketiya that we heard about the initiatives in place to keep the bay clean. One of these, organised by Jasper Beach House, offers a free juice or soda to anyone (guest or not), who can fill one of their fabulous recycled-rice-bags with rubbish found on the beach. The trash will be thoroughly sorted and as much as possible will be recycled.
Although we didn’t stay at Jasper, we took full advantage of their beach-clean scheme. We went on a walk, filled our bags with rubbish and returned to enjoy a freshly made juice presented in a charming champagne flute. Fabulous. Although, having spent the morning collecting plastic straws from the beach, I was a little disappointed to see one in the glass. I have since found out that they are in the process of working on an alternative as we speak. Watch this space!
Another beach clean initiative within Hiriketiya is organized by Dots Bay House, a popular hostel and hangout spot for travellers (also where you can get free water refills from one of their water filters!). Dots is one of the few properties in the area not using plastic water bottles and providing steel straws instead of plastic ones. Every second month they organise a deep clean of Hiri beach in conjunction with the coastal conservation office in Dickwella and the local municipality. In addition, with the help of the local council, they are also in the process of installing bins around Hiri Bay.
Of course, initiatives like these are not exclusive to the South Coast, and you will deffintely find plenty in and around the east coast between the months of May – August (during their high season). But if, like us, you find yourself on the south coast with some time on your hands and want to get involved in a beach clean up, there are plenty going on. Its always best to ask around as things in Sri Lanka change at a fast pace, but here are some that we have found while we’ve been here:
Mirissa: Surf & Yoga Mirissa organizes a monthly cleanup and is open to partnerships. They have also recently installed Karma yoga bins so that guests can pick up trash any time! Feel free to contact them for more details.
Weligama: Hangtime Hostel organizes a monthly cleanup, also provides rice sacks and collection of filled bags if you would like to arrange your own.
Midigama: Every Monday at 7am on Lazy Left Beach.
Madiha: The Doctor’s House is where you will find more info on upcoming coastal cleanups (they also offer free water refills and sell steel straws if you want one for the road!).
Hiriketiya: Dots Bay House and Jasper Beach House as mentioned above. Pop in or contact for more details.