So this Saturday started with a shuffle. Myself and Crew members from GEO 6711 and NEOM headed to the top of the island of Malta, to what I would say is the prettiest beach in the country ( and the best sunset, even on sunny days they have some one hit a big gong as the sun goes down !!)
Destination was Għajn Tuffieħa Bay ( do not ask me how to pronounce that) aka RIVIERA BAY. The Grand Harbour Marina had told us there was a clean up going on and to be honest I didn't exactly know what a "Microplastic clean up" was all about so I was impressed to see a set up that looked like a challenge for immunity from the tv show Survivor. We were given the role of being SIFTERS and put in groups of three.
🏝 SIFTERS definition - a volunteer that scoops sand up into a box with a sif.
A day in the life of a Sifter:
The beach was split into rows and each team had a dedicated row each (which I thought turned the sifting into a bit of a competition that the others didn’t know they were playing - anyway we won!) The professional sifters showed us how to properly sift sand in an ordered manner to maximize our efforts. Which meant one team member scooped with a big shovel, a scoop of sand from the top layer of the beach. While the other two viscously shook the siff box to get the good sand out and then we investigated the leftovers. Between a dog poop and some coral began to emerge some tiny “dots” of plastic. It was intense archaeological work, we needed to squish the sand/clay in our fingers to find some pieces. I was shocked at the amount we did find, and that we found it straight away with the first scoop.
Where did this come from? was my first question as I held a tiny piece of plastic in my hand. One of the team replied saying that it was a 30 year old bottle that had shrunk over time… after a quick call to a friend (well a quick google search), I found she wasn’t too far from the truth… microplastics are not a specific type of plastic but fragments of broken down plastics usually originating from single use plastic items, and just because they are tiny doesn’t mean we should ignore them. These often colourful pieces are mistaken by wildlife for food and get stuck in their tummies.
We were finding bite size pieces of fishing gear, plastic bags and frisbies. I tell you what, it was a good work out. The article advertising the clean in the Malta Times made me laugh when they said that a moderate level of fitness was needed to participate… well depends on how aggressive you sifted really OR who your sifting partner was, if you were paired up with a pro sifter you had to keep up the shuffle at a solid pace!
The process didn’t stop there though, we took our basket of rubbish to the professionals who explained what was going to happen next. They put it through another sifter and then into a water bucket, the water encourages the plastic bits to float which they collect and then leave out to dry and season lightly - no, they then dispose of it appropriately.
The result - pure sand and plastic free especially from plastics that can harm the ocean and wildlife.
Do you have any stories of cleaning up the environment in your travels ? Share them with us!
Shout out to the Captain of Plan B who told me when he is paddle boarding he takes along a bag and collects any thing that shouldn't be floating in the ocean.
Our Ocean, Our Responsibility!
FIVE FAST FACTS ON MICROPLASTICS
Approximately 8 million tons of plastics enter our oceans each year!
Plastics in the ocean break into smaller and smaller pieces they do not biodegrade (Microplastics/ micro beads).
Most plastics in the ocean are less than 5 millimeters.
Microplastics and the chemicals that attach to them in the water can contaminate the food chain.
Microbeads are commonly used in toothpaste, facial cleansers, cosmetics as well as fleece and synthetic clothing shed microplastics into the water with each washing. A fleece jacket sheds about 2,000 pieces of plastic per washing. Wastewater treatment plants do not have the ability to screen these tiny pieces, meaning they end up in the discharged water. Source : www.ecopartnersinc.com
Local participants keeping Malta clean and green;
The team driving the cause in Malta is Żibel - an eNGO that is forming a constantly growing community of people, who love to see Malta sparkling clean - like the true gem that it is. Keep up to date with the next clean up by following them on facey @zibelofficial
Alongside these local companies and organisations who are continually creating activations to support cleaning up Malta and EU. Well done guys!!
About the Author: Vanessa Bockmann; Crew Privilege Boss Lady, on a mission to make sure Crew are treated like VIP's all over the world.
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Locations: One Ocean Port Vell, BARCELONA
Grand Harbour Marina, MALTA