Going to the beach, watching the waves ebb and flow, and just looking out to the horizon makes almost everyone feel great. The beach is a perfect place to relax and just be.
Unfortunately every beach on the planet meanwhile has a big problem: all kinds of plastic rubbish not only put a damper on people’s pleasure, it is also a great threat. Depending on the current, rubbish from other parts of the world wash ashore – and sometimes far away from where it first arrived in lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans. Sometimes the rubbish has been carried by the wind, and yes, sadly it also gets carelessly “left” behind at the beach by the very people that came there to enjoy its beauty in the first place!
Here in the Lentas area, local residents organize regular rubbish clean-up events – and in the past few years, had local events on the “Let’s Do it Greec” nation-wide clean-up day held each spring. Many visitors to the area who are here at the time also take part. In the Lentas area, it is thanks to volunteers getting involved and being engaged that the local beaches are relatively clean.
On the clean-up days, many volunteers pick-up and properly dispose of rubbish. The volunteers walk along the roadsides, riverbeds, and beaches and “free” the landscape here from rubbish that someone else didn’t take care of properly. In addition to the “usual” every-day rubbish like plastic bags and bottles, aluminum cans, and cigarette butts, there are also many items found that have a lot to do with things related to tourism. These include sun-screen containers, swim masks and glasses, umbrellas, tent poles (and entire tents), etc.
The good news is that we can all do our part to keep the beaches and surrounding landscape clean, rubbish free, and beautiful. If you’d like to help, here are a few simple things you can do!
- Please always take everything you bring to the beach with you when you leave. Even if your beach umbrella or tent you purchased here won’t fit into your luggage, please just don’t leave it at the beach – even if your good intention is, “Somebody else can use this!” Maybe they can – and that would be great! However, first ask around and find another person who says, “Yes! I’ll take that, thanks!” If you do not find such a person who agrees to take over your things in person, then please dispose of it properly in the rubbish or recycling bins (depending on the material.)
Since summer 2019, there are signs on the beach in Ditikos sponsored by the local association of volunteer firefighters and environmental protection of Asterousia. These are friendly reminders about how important it is for campers (and other beach visitors) not to leave their belongings at the beach. A photo is at the bottom of this article.
- For those who smoke, always collect the ends of your cigarettes, etc. and take them with you for proper disposal in a rest rubbish bin. This is because cigarette and cigar ends are not a pretty sight, but more importantly, their filters contain microplastic (and rest nicotine, etc.) that gets consumed by sea creatures. The filters are not biologically decomposable, they just fall apart after many, many years and during this process they release rest tobacco and microplastic into the water.
If you want to help actively and help show how much you care about protecting our seas and other waterways:
- Take a few minutes to collect plastic waste from the beach, take it with you when you go, and dispose of it in rubbish or recycling containers! (Note for the recycling containers, the rubbish has to be fairly clean!)
For this rubbish collection activity, there is a global movement on Instagram from people all over the world who have the same mission: freeing our seas and oceans from plastic rubbish. People who participate take five minutes out of each of their vacation days and pick up rubbish from the beach or area they are visiting. Those who like can post a photo about what they have collected with the tag: #5minutebeachcleanup. Consider giving it a try – you would be amazed at what you can collect in just five minutes!
Every piece of plastic – no matter how tiny – that does not end up in the sea will not become microplastic, will not harm and even kill sea life, and also not be a dangerous contaminate that gets consumed by fish, birds, sea turtles or other creatures – including people.
Finally, whenever you can, try and avoid “paying” for plastic – especially “single use” ones. This includes things like saying no to plastic straws, coffee-to-gos in “one-time-only” plastic glasses, plastic shopping bags, fruits and veggies pre-packed in plastic, and the like. Thank you!