If I asked you to think of the Maldives, you'd probably be picturing pristine beaches with golden sands and deep blue waters, yeah? Well, thanks to plastic pollution the reality is actually quite different. Over 400 tonnes of rubbish are dumped on the Maldives every day. That's so much rubbish it can be hard to get your head around, but ends up looking a bit like this:
Grim, isn't it?
Filmmaker Alison Teal saw first-hand how bad the plastic pollution problem is when she spent three weeks on the Maldives. She saw the amount of plastic waste washing up on the shore and she decided to do something about it.
Plastic pollution in the oceans is more than just an unsightly inconvenience. It's killing sea life and getting into our food chain - if we don't start making a change now there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. It's time to make a change.
While filming reality series Naked and Afraid in the Maldives, Alison couldn't believe the amount of plastic she was seeing washing up on the shore of the 'island paradise' every single day.
Alison told LADbible: "This place is supposed to be a paradise and I was just in shock when I saw how much plastic was there. It was upsetting to see what had happened to this place because of humans, but being upset doesn't fix things. I knew I needed to get proactive."
Once back home, she decided it was a cause that was too important to ignore. Combining her love of filmmaking, nature and surfing, Alison surfed out to a real-life 'Trash Isle' and documented the adventure.
I mean, if you can look at these pictures and still think plastic pollution isn't a problem, then I really don't think anything will change your mind.
Thilafushi - a real trash isle, essentially - is a huge, man-made landfill, which has been described as 'apocalyptic' and it's not hard to see why.
Alison continued: "They've blocked it off now, but when I went there it just felt really eerie. I spoke to a man who was watching over the island and keeping an eye on the fires. It was surreal. It made me more determined than ever to carry on with this."
Her can-do attitude is infectious. It's easy, when faced with a problem so massive as plastic pollution to think, 'fuck this, I can't make any difference,' but Alison's enthusiasm is her secret weapon.
"One of the main obstacles we face is that the issue is very 'out of sight, out of mind'," she tells me.
"The only way to counter this is to raise awareness, which I do with my films. I go into schools and try to be humorous with it - education through entertainment."
As well as going into schools, giving talks and sharing her films, Alison works alongside charities that are also dedicated to cutting down plastic pollution.
While making the film, Alison pulled together a team of locals who helped her clean up the beach and were proud to help. They collected bags of plastic rubbish, which could then be turned into usable thread to create items of clothing.
This is not what the finished bikinis will look like, but it's a pretty good attempt by Alison, isn't it? Credit: Caters
While Alison goes into schools and helps children understand the problems, we at LADbible are doing things a bit differently. We're campaigning to have the 'Great Pacific garbage patch' - a collection of plastic waste, cumulatively the size of France, that's formed off the coast of Hawaii - recognised as its own country. We're calling it 'the Trash Isles'.
As an official country within the UN, it will be eligible for help from other countries. All we need is you, because to become a registered country, the Trash Isles will need some residents. Don't worry, you won't need to move there - you can sign up here.
In the meantime, you may be wondering: what else can we do?
"We can all use less plastic," Alison says.
"Particularly single-use items like water bottles, bags and drinking straws. I think we all need to be a little more responsible for our impact on the earth. You don't need to turn into an eco-warrior to make a difference."
LADbible has claimed the world's first country made entirely of trash to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.
Get involved and ensure the world's first country made of trash is its last.
Featured Image Credit: Alison's Adventures/YouTube