A grass roots collective calling themselves Oceans4Life Gran Canaria have been promoting greater education and collaboration among the general public since February to encourage more people to learn about and take responsibility for the estimated 31 kg of waste plastic per person that gets thrown away every day, far too much of it finding its way into the environment and posing serious risk to marine life and other animals.
In celebration of World Oceans Day 2018 they have organised a clean beach litter-pick event in San Agustín for Saturday afternoon (June 9th) starting at 6:00p.m.
Why go litter picking on a “Clean Beach” like San Agustín? Well, simply put, despite the awesome job done by the local town hall and municipal services keeping these beaches clean, with blue flags flying above them, it is only when all citizens come together and understand this is a collective responsibility that society will stand any chance of turning the tide when it comes to plastic waste. This first event will be a special gathering to start with one of the cleanest beaches on the south of the island.
Their goal on Saturday is to try and bring the most nationalities ever brought together for a beach clean on Gran Canaria. They hope one day to beat a world record, for the most nationalities participating in a beach clean, with the Guinness World Record standing at 61 litter-pickers, according to Julie Dass the founder of Oceans4Life Gran Canaria. Currently she says they have volunteers from 40 different countries who have all agreed to come down to San Agustín Beach tomorrow night and join in the attempt. They still need to find another 22 nationalities if they are to beat the world record.
When you consider that there are 206 distinct and sovereign nations (according to wikipedia) you can see that the task they have set themselves is quite a high bar, but in the greater scheme of things totally achievable. A message worth pondering when it comes to the question of reversing the tidal waves of plastic that keep flowing into our oceans.
“The idea was to bring people together in defense of the seas and, thinking about how to do it, we came up with the possibility of breaking this record,” says Julie Dass. “We know it’s going to be very difficult, but it’s a good formula to attract more people to clean the beach.”
In fact this initiative is just the tip of the iceberg, as Ocean4life’s very specific mission is in fact to eliminate the use of plastic straws on the island.
“We want to eradicate the problem of waste at origin and that can only be done by refusing the straw, one of the biggest pollutants of the seas, stopping them from being used” Julie says.
Oceans4Life organises a monthly beachclean that every two months has the participation of diving groups, to remove waste from the seabed around our coastlines.
They offer talks in schools, to help inform children of the effects produced by plastic straws that find their way into the sea and their members provide information cards to identify businesses where they refuse to use straws promoting various options with which to replace them.
To help fund their work Oceans4Life Gran Canaria offer alternatives including bamboo straws, metal, paper and even edible straws, which they sell to the general public and entrepreneurs in the drinks and hospitality business. “With the income we get, we finance the project and so do not depend of subsidies”, concludes Julie in a statement to the local press.
You check them out on Facebook and if you can’t make the event tomorrow, don’t worry they have regular events the next one being on June 17th in association with local environmental pioneers Surf Canarias Surf School who have been organising beach cleans for 9 year now and have even managed to gain the collaboration of the local town hall, which is one of the most difficult things to achieve when so many are afraid that a beach clean will be understood as their failure in a tourist driven economy. Of course it is only the truly forward thinking politicians who understand that collective responsibility and community action is only ever positive thing to nurture and support.