Most of us, if not all of us, have seen disturbing images of ocean life being devastated and destroyed by plastic rings, bottles and other pieces of litter. It seems obvious that plastic and other pieces of trash can harm oceans and its inhabitants. However, new research shows that trash on the beach also takes a toll on the human psychology.
Over the years, nature and nature-walks have been useful tools to help the human psyche. A study done by Kayleigh Wyles of Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom has tested the effects that trash and litter have on the human mind. According to Wyles, ‘restorative’ is defined as the sense of helping unburden the brain by relieving stress and re-energizing the person. Overall, it helps us feel positive (Mooney,2015).
Ms. Wyles conducted three separate studies where researchers showed individuals photographic images of beaches and other oceanic environments. Each individual was asked to rate the image as being restorative or not. When no litter was present, the subjects rated the images as very restorative. However, when litter and trash was added, the scene had strong negative impacts on the initial assessment (Mooney,2015). Since the Wyles study, subsequent studies showed that even small amounts of litter can have an impact. Researchers have varied the amount of trash seen in the images to as little as 7%. Often the participants say they are disturbed by the liter and it interferes with the pleasantness of the image (Mooney,2015).
So next time you’re walking along the beach and see some trash, pick it up and throw it into a trashcan or recycle bin. If you don’t do it for the marine life, do it for yourself; after all it’s only your psyche.
If you would like to read more about this study visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/07/08/why-clean-beaches-are-so-important-if-you-want-a-relaxing-vacation/
Mooney, C. (2015, July 8). Ocean trash isn't just bad for the environment – it’s bad for your state of mind. Retrieved July 9, 2015.