Leave the beach clean: don’t trash the ocean!
The height of the tourist season is when the schemes everywhere across Europe against coastal pollution come into their own. It’s beachcombing in a different way, remembering to systematically “bag it and bin it”!
Cleaning up holidaymakers’ acts in Europe
30,000 tonnes of litter are collected and sorted in France each year thanks to the "Clean Holidays" campaign! A pretty good achievement for the 2.6 million rubbish bags installed in natural sites...but a poor result looking at the thousands of tonnes left lying on the ground. Who’s to blame?
If the organizers’ figures are anything to go by, smokers are the worst polluters, with 41% of cigarette ends, followed by “grazers” whose discarded packaging and containers account for 30%, a fair part of it plastic...The other third is classed as miscellaneous litter.
Nearly half of this rubbish ends up in coastal waters and rivers, adding to the 540-odd million tonnes already bobbing around the oceans. While France is not the hardest hit in Europe, its status as a premier world tourist destination and the length of its coastline mean it needs to step up its efforts.
This is why "Clean Holiday" means to play a leading role in the "Clean Europe Network" set up by twenty voluntary organizations in March 2012.
"Nothing overboard, everything back to port!"
This year, “Clean Holidays” is launching a new campaign - "Sort it, sailor" - aimed at pleasure boaters using the 25 sea and river ports on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. The aim is to stop dumping waste in rivers and at sea and encourage selective sorting by amateur sailors whether at sea or on rivers. 40 000 tote bags for recyclable waste and rubbish bags for the rest will be distributed to recreational boaters to help them sort and bring all their waste back to port.
All-out action in the wake of "Marinelitter solutions"
The gyres where plastic waste accumulates are enough to show that this is a global problem calling for global solutions. Knowing this, fifty global plastics industry players came together in Hawaii in March 2011 to sign up to a "Joint Declaration" with specific targets to stem the flow of marine debris.
The first stocktaking in Miami, the following year, found over a hundred projects launched across the world through the Marine Litter Solutions network.
Young people and holidaymakers are the target groups of the clean-up Europe’s coasts campaign, as well as the "Clean Holidays" campaign that has been keeping a watchful eye on all of France’s natural sites for 40 years. But diehard “sea dogs” also owe a debt to the efforts of thousands of volunteers from Mediterranean countries who go out each year tidying up their beaches as part of the "Clean-up the Med" operation.
Spain’s Ecomar Foundation and Cicloplast plastics recycling association are tapping into the enthusiasm of budding seafarers who sign up for the themed workshops run by their sailing clubs. Part of the scheme is the annual publication of a new Cuaderno de Bitácora, the bible of the up-and-coming green sailor.
Ocean Initiatives, designer surfing
In the French seaside resort of Biarritz, in 1990, a handful of surfers hanging out with the triple world champion Tom Curren, decided to do something about protecting the ocean, coastlines...and waves! Their inspiration, the Surfrider Foundation established six years previously in Malibu, was a proven mix of high-tech and ecology. The Californian way of life would ensure their success. With help from surfing celebs like Joël de Rosnay or Bixente Lizarazu, the Basque coast Surfriders developed a network of volunteers who could energise thousands of supporters for coastal conservation operations. The NGO’s flagship event, Ocean Initiatives has been promoting environmental awareness schemes combined with hands-on actions to clean up beaches, embankments and the seabed every year for 18 years. For the first half of 2013, they had already racked up some 1,200 completed or ongoing operations. What better way to spend those summer hols?!
Stop nurdle loss – make a mermaid smile
While most of the plastics that end up in the sea are unwelcome consumer waste, about one-tenth have never seen a supermarket trolley. Nurdles, also known as "mermaids' tears", are tiny plastic pellets that escape into the environment from plastics manufacturing. Their nuisance value lies less in the volume than their unpredictable behaviour and spread, especially in marine environments!
Mingling with the flow of marine debris, they enter easily into the food chain because they are small and look like food...They eventually accumulate in the stomachs of predators like seabirds, causing malnutrition and, ultimately, death by starvation.
Believing that keeping these pellets out of natural environments is a job for the industry, plastics industry associations have launched an international programme, Operation Clean Sweep, to get every segment of the value chain to implement a method designed to prevent pellet loss into the aquatic system.
The programme has been running for several years in North America and Britain; it was launched in France in September 2012 and is set to be rolled out to other European countries.