Today two vice-presidents in the European Parliament met to talk about the Plastic Pollution. Among the ideas of how to reduce our consumer use and the initiatives already taken inside the European Parliament (Vice-President Heidi Hautala talked about quitting the bottled mineral water and switching to potable tap water), the two politicians discussed the possible ideas for reducing the plastic waste, especially the single-use plastic (plastica usa e getta) by making it truly recyclable. Vice-President Jurki Katainen cited some numbers.
Apparently, less than 30% of the 25 million tones of plastic consumed in the European Union EACH YEAR is recycled. The rest ends up in the landfill. If, as he claimed, we force producers to make plastic packaging according to the same standard, then we might be able to recycle much more of it instead of producing new material from the petrol (which only adds to the profit of oil companies). What is more, a lot depends on our personal choices as consumers. The EU cannot regulate every single aspect of our life, but we, as consumers, can put pressure on the producers, which is already happening in some countries like the UK where consumer campaigns made big chain restaurants or supermarkets rethink and change their policies about the plastic straws or plastic shoppers.
The whole video of this discussion here
The idea was developing but it still felt a bit strange to simply go to the beach one day, take out a plastic bag and fill it with the rubbish found there. I will end up being called a crazy lady, I thought. Then there was the weekend I spend in the north of Sardinia, with my dear friend Stephan. There were other guests at his home, a fantastic Norwegian couple, Hege and Arne. Among all the topics we discussed at the table, we also talked about the level of awareness regarding environmental issues in the Scandinavia.
These two came for a short holiday in Sardinia and you could see how much they adored the beauty of its nature. Two days later I saw a picture on Hege’s Instagram profile. She had just done the “5minbeachcleanup” on the Maria Pia beach in Alghero. We messaged, exchanged ideas. I started browsing the Internet in order to find more information and to my surprise, I discovered that she was not the only one, there were THOUSANDS doing this.
People from all over the world, on the shores of Alaska and the beaches of Australia, from the tropical paradise of the Bali island to the Pacific coast of Japan. From California to East Africa and the UAE. In Holland, Denmark and Germany. And closer to home, on the Mediterranean seacoast, people are participating in beach cleanups in Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Spain.
There was only one thing left. I plucked up the courage, put the bag in my pocket and went to the beach.
Un’immagine vale più di mille parole. Questa è la spiaggia del Poetto il 5 maggio 2018, dopo le forti piogge che avrebbero potuto lavare tutta la spazzatura giù per i fiumi e nel mare. Il vento del sud poi l’ha riportata indietro.
Di seguito le foto della spiaggia del Poetto scattate in diverse occasioni.
Questo è ciò che sogniamo quando pensiamo “Sardegna”. Questo è ciò che vogliamo vedere. Questo è ciò che dobbiamo preservare.
Non c’è altra Sardegna in cui possiamo trasferirci.
Non c’è pianeta B.
A picture is worth a thousand words. This is the Poetto beach on the 5 of May 2018, after the heavy rains which might have washed all the rubbish down the rivers and into the sea. The southern wind then brought it back. Below are the pictures of the Poetto beach taken on different occasions.
This is what we dream when we think “Sardinia”. This is what we want to see. This is what we need to preserve.
There is no other Sardinia we can move to one day.
There is no Planet B.
The Clean Coast Sardinia Project came into existence during one of the walks along the sea on the Poetto beach – around 11 kilometres of sand stretching between Cagliari and Quartu Sant’Elena.
I had my camera ready to take some photos of the amazing colours of the water under the sky full of clouds. I have been capturing the beauty of this island and posting the photos on Instagram and to my blogs, but on that day, in early May, I was taking pictures of the Poetto beach covered in debris. Plastic containers, crates, shoes… There was more of it than usual and I was wondering where it all had come from. That week was a week of heavy rains in Sardinia and all this rubbish must have been first carried down to the sea by the overflowing streams and rivers and then with southern winds and high waves brought back to the shore.
So it is not just what we leave on the beach that contaminates the water. The rubbish we leave in the forests, abandon next to the roads, throw into the rivers… sooner or later will end up in one place – in our seas and oceans.
That day I posted these pictures on my profile, next to the postcard-like pictures of Sardinia, angry and disillusioned. This island is a paradise. Its environment, like anywhere else in this world, needs to be respected and protected. Every year hundreds of thousands of people come to spend their holidays here, a big part of the island’s population makes a living thanks to this, we all depend on the natural resources here, on the uncontaminated fresh water, its fields and pastures, unspoilt beaches and clean seas with healthy fish and other creatures. Yet it is us, the locals and tourists, who keep polluting it.
Taking a picture and posting a comment was not enough. ‘What can I do?’ I asked myself. I was standing there, overwhelmed by a mixture of anger, sadness and helplessness, when I spotted a family of foreign tourists picking the rubbish from the beach.
‘I could do the same,’ I thought. But can one or two people picking the litter from the beach make a difference? Probably not. But if that mother with her children strolling on the Poetto beach with a bucket full of rubbish could influence me, maybe I could influence others. The idea of Clean Coast Sardinia was born on that cloudy day.