This post originally appeared on VICE Canada.
When you're driving down the West Coast Highway on Vancouver Island, it's hard not to be in awe of the surrounding natural beauty. The 60-mile stretch of highway that runs from Victoria to Port Renfrew is flanked by the sprawling Pacific Ocean on one side and lush rainforest on the other. Scattered between the trees and ocean are a plethora of beaches where people hike, surf, swim, and camp. It's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
But beneath the pristine wilderness there's a global epidemic slowly infiltrating Canada's oceans and beaches: garbage.
On a typical wet-winter coastal afternoon, I drove out to Sombrio Beach, located approximately 12 miles south of Port Renfrew, a community on the west coast of Vancouver Island, to see firsthand the impact garbage is having on the ocean and beaches. I spent the afternoon with an international group called the Surfrider Foundation, which has a mandate that reads: "Dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network."