A piece by Mike Lay about his experience on the French Coast. All photography by Jack Johns
Beaches are places of openness and of acceptance. They accept humanity in all its beautiful sizes and colours. They accept wildlife and vegetation, they accept the seasons without blinking an eye. They accept the ocean with the widest arms of all.
With this acceptance comes a lot of joy... but also a lot of trash. Early summer this year in Hossegor, France saw an unusual amount of rainfall. While being a welcome drink to the sprawling pine forests of the region it flushed a monumental amount of debris from the rivers into the sea. This combined with the strong onshore winds that accompanied the rain meant a filthy chaos covered the beaches of south west France for many miles. Entire trees were marooned on the beach as far as the eye could see, they were the dramatic almost apocalyptic consequence of the rain, but upon closer inspection the darker side of the deluge became obvious. The once golden sand and azure water was clogged with pieces of plastic, from tiny to football sized pieces it was everywhere. Jellyfish like carrier bags bobbed through the lineup and a possible seal turned out to be a tub of paint. It is a sad thing to see the once gloriously blank canvas of the beach painted in such an unnatural, unmistakably human shade and hopefully our habits can quickly change to lessen our impact, even a small amount, on the environment that we love so much.