Recently I was captivated by the picture below twitted by Andrew Almack Founder of plasticsforchange.org, with the tweet: “Did you know that all of the shoreline cleanups combined still only collect less than 1% of the plastic entering the #ocean each year?”
A research conducted by the University of the Aegean, between May and August 2003 at depths between 0 and 25 m, showed that the marine debris concentration on the seafloor of coastal Greek areas was higher than debris concentration estimated by other studies in the Mediterranean.
Plastic debris in the Mediterranean surface waters is dominated by millimeter-sized fragments, but showed a higher proportion of large plastic objects than that present in oceanic gyres, reflecting the closer connection with pollution sources. The accumulation of floating plastic in the Mediterranean Sea is between 1,000 and 3,000 tons.
What is the impact of plastic pollution in Greek marine ecosystems?
The two most important small-sized pelagic species in Greek waters, making up 30% of the total Greek landings and 59% of the total purse seine landings are the European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) and sardine (Sardina pilchardus). The potential habitats for all life stages of these two species is located inshore, mainly in waters shallower than 100 m depth.
Since 2009, researchers from Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation have been carrying out thorough research throughout Greece on the dispersal of microplastic fibers within ecosystems, studying their abundance on coastal sediments, fish, invertebrates and surface waters.
Some of the results from this research give an answer to my question of the scale of the problem and the answer is shocking:
Analysing more than 1000 samples from 167 beaches of the Greek coast, there was no sample that did not contain fibres of microplastics.
Further analysis in 2012 and 2013 showed that almost 100% of fish and marine invertebrates (such as sponges and sea cucumbers) examined were also found to contain miniature fibres in their stomachs.
This confirms that microplastic particles are entering the food chain through our seas.
We launched Plastikourgeio Shop & Lab at the beginning of 2017, my wife and I decided to make a contribution to reducing the large quantities of plastic that are consumed every second of every day by offering non-plastic alternatives and provide our community with a practical and creative solution to stop plastic ending in the landfills.
Our inspiration came after several years realising how much plastic waste accumulated in the most unexpected places around Greece and dedicating many hours researching and compiling the information available for Greece in this matter.
Almost one-fifth of the entire waste produced in Greece is plastic, and yet just 1% of it is recycled.
These two observations alone indicate that our current use of plastics is not sustainable. In addition, because of the durability of the polymers involved, substantial quantities of discarded end-of-life plastics are accumulating as debris in landfills and in natural habitats through the country.
At Plastikourgeio our aims are:
Recognises the significant opportunities in targeting plastic waste collection at focal points such as: coffee-shops, kiosks, supermarkets,
up-cycling plastic into design long-life products,
creating and promoting environmentally preferable procurement programs, to tackle the problem of plastic waste at the business stage,
raising awareness about plastic issues in Greece through participation campaigns and providing seminars and workshops.
R. Buckminster Fuller was an American architect, scientist, engineer, and inventor. Although he never obtained a degree in architecture, he was an architect and engineer who designed revolutionary structures. In the post war period architects started thinking of the upcoming Utopia technology during a period of rapid construction.
Fuller begun developing the idea of what he called “Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science”, in an effort to anticipate and solve humanity’s major problems by providing “more and more life support for everybody with less and less resources”.
Precious Plastic is a project developed by Dave Hakkens in the Netherlands to deal with the big problem of plastic waste. In collaboration with Dave and the Precious Plastic community, Plastikourgeio.org seeks to adapt and create the tools and initiatives needed to boost recycling in Greece.