Voluntouring Adventure in Korea
Written by Alessandro Nigro
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing our generation and it’s impacting every corner in the world; that’s not limited to Korea. On our most recent adventure, we went out to Malipo Beach in Taean, Korea, to learn more about the particular harm that microplastics pose to the environment and ourselves.
Travel, for us, means more than just seeing a new place. It’s also about how you can leave a positive impact on the place you visit. This is why we decided to implement our first “voluntour,” which is combining volunteering with a tour, and aims to combine travel with change that is good, and our Mallipo Beach bound bus was filled with anticipation and curiosity for our first Voluntour. As Saturday was World Clean-Up Day, we decided to take advantage and help clean up one of Korea’s most beautiful beaches. We first arrived at Mallipo Beach and went to a museum for a tour that helped teach us the dangers of pollution and microplastic.
In the museum, we learned that microplastics are small, otherwise unidentifiable and broken-down pieces of plastic that blend into the ecosystem due to their small size. They pose a threat to us all, as animals will consume them, and then become the food we eat. We do not yet know the long term effects of this on the human body, but we can see it has been linked to DNA damage and inflammation. We also learned about the massive and tragic oil spill which occurred in 2007 and affected the entire east coast of Korea and tragically ruined the livelihoods of the Korean fishermen who used to thrive on tourism and ecology in the area, and had their incomes stripped by this accident. This spurred all of us on our tour to be called to action and do what we can to help the local residents of Mallipo.
After this eye-opening visit, Adventure Korea made an effort to investigate microplastics on the beach and see for our own eyes the effects of pollution and how it impacts the climate around us with specially made kits that helped us look for microplastics by sifting through the sand through a gradual filtering process. It was incredible to see how easily we were able to find a huge amount of microplastic, as pictured below.
Shortly after, we enjoyed a delicious Korean feast for lunch and then came back to do a beach clean up of larger items. Some of the items we found included bottle caps, forgotten toys, cigarettes, and pieces of plastic bottles.
Following this, we decided to reward our hard work with some fun. We engaged in some stand up paddle boarding, and challenged ourselves to an activity that was new for many of us. We had an instructor who showed us the ropes of stand up paddle boarding and had a blast making new memories in Korea, doing something for the first time; the epitome of memorable travel!
As always, we finished the day feeling like we had made the most of our adventure in Korea, and made an impact on our very first Voluntour! At the end we were awarded certificates from the government for our effort in helping clean up the coast of Korea!