The beginning of February saw dozens of #breakfreefromplastic campaigners and activists gathering in Marrakech, Morocco looking for new ways to work together change the face of the Mediterranean with their projects.
Movement members from Barcelona, to Beirut and most Mediterranean countries in between shared their common culture, love of food and traditional zero waste crafts to develop common campaigns and activities. Over the 4 days of meetings incredible stories of the campaigns were shared and the diverse range of experience in the room was put to good use building a stronger #breakfreefromplastic presence in the Mediterranean.
Since the close of the meeting we have been sharing some of these amazing people, and their work on our Instagram and Twitter accounts. Now we would like to share them with you here:
Alodia Pérez Muñoz, Friends of the Earth Spain (Amigos de la Tierra), Madrid, Spain
From Madrid, Alodia Pérez Muñoz, a Natural Resources and Waste campaigner for Friends of the Earth Spain (Amigos de la Tierra), shared her experiences of working at the city level to tackle plastic pollution. “We are working with cities to reduce their waste, primarily their plastic waste, to get a cleaner world. We are working on the beaches and in natural spaces to remove he most common litter in our world”.
Mamoun Ghallab, Zero Zbel, Morocco
A representative of the movement’s host organisation in Morocco, Mamoun Ghallab from Zero Zbel (Zero Waste Morocco) explained how their organisation have been working to reinforce the countries plastic bag ban “I am one of the co-founders of Zero Zbel which means ‘Zero Waste’ in Morocco. We raise awareness of people’s behaviour and how to reduce our waste and environmental impact. We also do advocacy work mostly about plastic pollution in the coastal areas, and how to ban plastic bags effectively.”
He went on to tell how #breakfreefromplastic had brought together organisations from across the region, to coordinate their work and share the cultural aspects which they have in common; “It has been almost a year since 20 – 30 NGO’s from across the Mediterranean came together to form the Break Free From Plastic Mediterranean group and we are coordinating all together to launch actions and campaigns to create positive change on issues which affect us all in the ‘Mare Nostrum’ as we call the Mediterranean.”
Zoran Tonic, Greenpeace Croatia
Zoran Tonic, the office director for Greenpeace Croatia, and coordinator for their work on plastics told us how “Greenpeace has been campaigning on plastic in the Mediterranean region for the past two years” He continued saying that “this year we are continuing with a special emphasis and focus on single use plastic.”
Giulia Carlini, CIEL, Switzerland
Giulia Carlini, a lawyer with CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law) said “I am an attorney for CIEL, based in Geneva. We are part of Break Free From Plastic and are looking at the entire lifecycle of plastic. We believe that the impacts of plastic arise at every single stage and especially at its production. I look specifically at the global law and policy around plastic, from the United Nations process to what can happen at the international, regional and local level that can be relevant to combat plastic pollution.” Giulia has been involved in working to combat plastic pollution in various UN conventions including the UNEA 3 meeting in Kenya in December.
Joslin and Salua, Recycle Lebanon
From Lebanon, Joslin and Salua from Recycle Lebanon shared their exciting new projects and plans for their country. Their organisation founded during Lebanon’s waste crisis presented a beacon of hope for the region with innovative solutions and a strong social base for their work. “I am Joslin Khdrey, [left in photo] founder of Recycle Lebanon, an NGO established during Lebanon’s waste crisis to regenerate the system. We take a holistic approach focusing on legislation, cleanups, education, data visualisation, open sourcing, and our most exciting project the ‘EcoSouk’ – access to circular living.”
“I am Salua Moussawel,[right in photo] from Recycle Lebanon, and I am part of the team. I am super excited to be here for Break Free From Plastic Mediterranean.”
These stories are just the beginning for the #breakfreefromplastic movement in the Mediterranean and the groups have been working together to coordinate larger and more effective actions across the region in the coming month. So stay tuned to hear more from the emergent movement across the Mediterranean sea!
THE PURE TOUR
12 February 2018.
Our oceans need fixing, and Aotearoa is ready to play its part, says environmentalist and Indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata.
A national tour of speaking engagements with global ocean plastics experts Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins from the 5 Gyres Institute and Raquelle De Vine from Algalita marine research, has so far experienced broad support for a ban on plastic bags, and further measures to reduce New Zealand’s plastic pollution.
“The global effort to save our seas from plastic pollution, is all about zero waste on land, making that local connection between how we use plastic here, and how it effects all of these things in the ocean out there” Says marine scientist Marcus Eriksen.
The PURE (Plastic Use Resistance Education) Tour includes talks and workshops in Auckland, Raglan, Ruatoria, Gisborne, Napier, Masterton, Levin and Wellington, and aims to raise awareness of ocean plastics, New Zealand’s contribution to the problem, and drive a national discussion around potential solutions. It also includes a microplastics survey along the eastern seaboard, on board Ngati Kahungunu ocean voyaging waka Te Matau a Maui.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AT THE CORE
“Indigenous involvement is pivotal to forging solutions for this problem. We are people of the ocean, and when the ocean is not well, we are not well” Says Ms Ngata “In addition to the impacts, we also have a wealth of ancestral science and principles that can contribute to the conversation – so we are very excited to have our ocean voyaging community involved in the science around understanding microplastics, and we very much view this as an extension of our opposition to oil and commitment to
Iwi Leaders also signalled their support, issuing a resolution at Waitangi to seek a national plastic bag ban from government, as well as the establishment of a national working group on plastic waste reduction, and government investment in microplastic contamination research.
PLASTICS PROBLEM ON A PAR WITH CLIMATE CHANGE
The impacts of plastic pollution upon our ecological and physical wellbeing are on a par with climate change, but our plastic waste policy responses are roughly where climate change policy was at in 1990, said Stephanie Borrelle, PhD scholar presenting at the PURE Tour launch summit in Auckland.
Toxins released into the fish as ocean plastics break down in their digestive system, enter the foodchain, creating signficant health problems from humans including infertility and cancers.
Dr Trisia Farrelly spoke to a longstanding weight of evidence suggesting any microplastics in marine environments is not a good thing – and that many scientists who are concerned about the health effects of plastic chemical ingestion have had to move beyond “hard science” facts and engage communities, lawyers and activists to solve the human health problems associated with plastics.
Marcus Eriksen agrees, adding “The science that proves these links is being utilised by activists and NGOs on the ground to create the policies we need. “
This science includes significant expeditions across all 5 oceanic gyre regions, including the South Pacific ocean, where Algalita marine research and education carried out research last year tracking a plastic garbage “smog” covering a size roughly 11 times the size of New Zealand. Raquelle DeVine was on the research vessel and personally witnessed evidence to suggest New Zealand origin waste throughout the smog. “We were miles from anywhere and were pulling up New Zealand fishery fishbins, which fish were living within”, it was quite shocking”.
CHANGE IS ACHIEVABLE AND IMMINENT
“There are so many correlations between climate change and plastics pollution” says ocean plastics expert Anna Cummins of the 5 Gyres Institute “change is absolutely possible but what I’ve learnt is that it can only happen through collaboration – its an incredibly uphill battle but if we can really hold big oil and big plastic accountable, and have this struggle led by Māori and frontline communities, with the rest of us supporting in any way we can, that’s the only way we’re going to get it done.
The PURE Tour will culminate in a march at the end of February through Wellington, to present the Greenpeace petition for a single use plastic bag ban, to parliament.
For further details on the PURE Tour, or the march, see the PURE Tour – Aotearoa, The Pacific and Plastics facebook page.
Enquiries to: Tina Ngata ph: 021482428 firstname.lastname@example.org
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