Cleaning up the Oceans
Plastic debris on beaches and shorelines.
Many of you are familiar with this problem we are facing as environmentally-conscious and caring students. If this is not the case (which I cannot believe of course), then you encountered, or are going to encounter very soon, the plastic problem during the fieldwork week on Texel. Every day, groups returned to the accommodation with bags full of things they found on the beach. Jerry cans, fishing nets, plastic bottles, flip flops, you name it. And then to imagine that this ‘catch’ only resulted from cleaning up 500 meters of beach, which is not a lot.
Luckily, we see more initiatives popping up that want to make cleaning up the environment somewhat more fun. For example, the project “Grondstofjutten”, quite directly translated to “resource beachcombing”, gives people the opportunity to borrow a bag in which they can collect all the trash they find on the beaches. In exchange, they receive a free cup of coffee or tea, or an ice cream if you like, when handed in a full bag.
These type of projects do not only exist in the Netherlands. On Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, the organization called “The Clean Ocean Project” draws attention to the importance of clean beaches and oceans. It already started out in 2000, with organized beach cleanups and education. Nowadays, there are shops in which sustainable, plastic free items are sold and information about the oceans is provided. Also, they are currently placing boxes next to the beaches, so that people are motivated to collect and throw away the plastic they encounter when enjoying the beautiful island. The initiators of the organization try to tackle the plastic problem in two ways: they value cleaning up the beaches and stress the importance of limiting the use of plastics.
So, the next time you are spending time on one of the beaches of the planet, think of that little step extra and take the debris you find with you.