The Other Side of Paradise

Filmmaker Alison Teal was in the process of literally exposing herself to a national TV audience when she found new inspiration: exposing the serious and complex trash-pollution issues affecting the Maldives, and turning plastic garbage into something useful.

Teal’s photo shoot of the landfill called “Trash Island” and other islands in the Maldives are head-turning in their contrast to the usual postcard-perfect photos associated with the archipelago. Seeing her walk amid mountains of empty water bottles and other trash with her surfboard, it’s almost apocalyptic.

"Trash Island" is Thilafushi, a manmade island.

Teal told Yahoo Travel that she doesn’t consider herself an activist, and that the inspiration behind her photo shoot and upcoming film about the Maldives wasn’t typical. After she’d created a series of lighthearted travel adventure films called“Alison’s Adventures,” the Discovery Channel cast her in the docudrama “Naked and Afraid.” In each episode, a man and woman who have never met must spend 21 days wearing no clothes surviving in the wilderness.

Teal’s 2013 episode was shot on a tiny island in the Maldives, and when she wasn’t battling sunburn and dehydration in the intense heat, she was moved by the disturbing amount of plastic bottles she found washing ashore.

A walk through burning waste on Thilafushi.

“When we left, we made a raft out of plastic bottles to get away, and I said I’m going to come back and try to do something about bringing awareness to this,” Teal told Yahoo Travel.

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