Waste management, pollution, inadequate access to sanitation services and urban migration are some of the major challenges to development in Tanzania. Due to the absence of effective waste management practices, a significant proportion of waste ends up in the environment. Beaches are commonly used as a dumping ground for household waste and as a public latrine. Plastic bags and other debris block drainage ditches and sewage systems, impair land productivity, endanger wildlife and lead to the proliferation of insects and pests that transmit diseases. 2015 saw the start of the worst cholera outbreak in Tanzania since 1978, when cholera was first identified in Tanzania. The outbreak is a result of poor sanitary facilities and a lack of safe drinking water, especially during the rainy season.

Sea Sense waste management education programmes aim to drive attitude and behavioural changes towards solid waste management and provide citizens with the necessary skills and knowledge to implement improved waste management practices. Sea Sense uses community theatre as a tool to raise awareness of the impacts of poor waste management.

School education programmes centre around the four R’s: refuse, reuse, reduce recycle. In 2013, Sea Sense collaborated with Kitomondo Secondary School in Mafia Island to build Mafia’s first recycling hub. The students are recycling flip-flops, plastic bottles and plastic bags. 

Each year on International Coastal Clean-up Day (third Saturday in September) Sea Sense links with other stakeholders to organise a community beach clean-up event. Waste is sorted, categorised and weighed and data are submitted to the Ocean Conservancy, USA who manage a global marine debris database. 

A flip-flop recycling project was established in 2013. Flip- flops that are washed up on turtle nesting beaches in Mafia and Pangani Districts are being recycled by local artisans into ‘Beach life Bracelets’ and sold in several outlets across Tanzania. The project has made a considerable difference to the lives of the artisans who earn income from every bracelet sold.