Bringing the Ocean to Society
22 Jan 2018
Marine litter: stop talking, start acting!
Citizens decide to make a diffence in their local beach. And succeed.

Early January 2018. Somewhere in the Lisbon area, a group of friends is having just another coffee. Like everybody else, they discuss about things that matter. For them. It happens that this group is into waste management. One of them says:

What if we stop talking and start acting? Why don’t we organize a beach cleanup ourselves?

And so it started…

Sunday, 21 January 2018. Fonte da Telha beach, 25 km south of Lisbon. At least 300 people show up to the beach cleanup organized in a “very organic and spontaneous” way by Ambialistas, the new association meanwhile created by the group of friends for the purpose.

In a few days and using nothing more than social media, Ambialistas managed to get the support of local fishermen who lend a tractor to remove the litter gathered from the beach. Some of the local beach bars supported the initiative by offering water and tea. Straw Patrol provided the bags to collect the litter. Talk about public engagement.

And suddenly, in a 2 hour Sunday morning walk at the beach, a tiny mountain of marine litter was removed from the beach and dunes and it’s now on its way to a proper destination. The Portuguese Association For Marine Litter was also there and made sure cigarette filters and cotton buds were properly separated.

EurOcean Communication Officer Tiago Garcia took part of the initiative:

We all receive a lot from the ocean. Even when we live inland away from the sea, in the mountains or in landlocked countries. This is the least thing we can do to give back. It’s inspiring to see individual citizens truly making the difference.

The goal now is to keep on and multiply the success. If each person carries a bag to pick litter every time they go to the beach, it will have a positive effect immediately and will perhaps make others to do the same. If the media report more about these initiatives, politicians will feel that voters do care about marine litter.

And if you think marine litter is just a visual problem... maybe you should read this. And this

So… what are you going to do next Sunday?

On the governance level, the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics was adopted by the European Commission this same week and is a big step towards the transition for a more circular economy.

See the video!