Dianne Marsden was on vacation last year in Quintana Roo, Mexico, when she noticed how polluted the oceans had actually become.
"Walking along the beach, I was shocked to see how much garbage was washing ashore," Marsden says.
From bottle caps to broken glass; tangled fishing lines and ropes and even a missing flip-flop, Marden decided she wanted to help.
"The next day, I brought my own garbage bag with me and just started collecting everything I saw," Marsden explains. "A father and his child also started their own garbage collection too, which was so nice and inspiring to see."
Not even an hour later, Marsden's bag was full. Despite staying at five-star resort, Marsden said the staff were so grateful that they offered to dispose of the waste.
In that moment, Marsden had an idea, and it's one she's been advocating to her clients ever since.
A member of The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) for five years, Marsden now invites her clients to bring their own reusable bag on vacation with them and get involved in a beach clean-up. She's also partnered with 4Ocean, and for every pound of trash collected, purchases a bracelet on behalf of her clients.
"We love going to these places, but if we're not going to be responsible, soon we won't have these beautiful places to go see," Marsden says. "If everybody had just five minutes to pick up a little bit of garbage, just imagine the chain reaction this could have on the world?"
Marsden says that although many hotels and resorts are doing their part to ease up on single-use plastic pollution (banning plastic straws, replacing plastic bottles with glass, etc.), at the end of the day, humans are responsible for their own actions.
Marsden began this initiative in January 2020 and was looking forward to getting more clients on board, but then COVID-19 hit.
Once the pandemic passes, she plans on diving right back into things, and is even considering partnering with a company on getting reusable, sustainable bags to distribute to her clients.
"When we come out of COVID-19, I hope people will travel, but I also hope that going forward, people recognize that so much of this problem is human made," Marsden says. "We wouldn't do this to our own backyards, so why would we do it to the beautiful destinations we visit?"
Dianne can be reached at email@example.com.
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