Hideous Henderson Island
Updated: Mar 31
The uninhabited Henderson Island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 to due to its near-pristine state. In recent years, research has revealed that the island has the ‘highest density of trash’, harbouring ‘18 tonnes of plastic counting 38-million-pieces’ of debris.
The island remains uninhabited and it’s shocking to find such large quantities of debris (99.8% is estimated to be plastic) in such a remote place. The island presents a true image of the extent of the plastic rule and such an accumulation of waste on an untouched dot on the map of Oceania invites you to imagine exactly how it all got here, and not in a wanderlust-way.
The diagram below shows how currents within the South Pacific gyre pass over the Pitcairn area[*]. Unsurprisingly the above facts and figures are all true and more.
Map from Lavers et al.
When studying the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Jennifer Lavers said that “remote islands without large populations were the most effective indicator of the amount of plastic debris floating in the oceans.” She also studied Henderson Island back in 2016/2017.
When you zoom in to a specific place it becomes much more personal and you immediately feel linked to it in one way or another. So maybe the key is connecting people to their own natural environment as well as these far flung places that are equally as affected. It’s been shown that people who have access to nature are more likely to be aware of and behave in environmentally conscious ways.
We all have a responsibility in this and need to invest energy, knowledge, and spreading the message about returning our oceans to a cleaner and more healthy state that benefits us all in both the short-term and long run.