Feet in the sand, body blocker and direct to the deck chair to take advantage of the sun. Meanwhile, I take a glass of ice cold soda because the temperature is burning and I light a “puchito” to relax fully. Ice cream seller passes, and how to resist? I leave the glass and the cigarette on the sand, while I take the wrapping out of the stick and put it under the chair.
Total, then I get up and throw everything to the line.
That thought is repeated in many of those who, year after year, summer on the Argentine coast. But that “after” never comes, the waste is forgotten or the wind takes it away. The excuses are thousands and the problems that are generated, even more.
Only two examples: according to
Mundo Marino Foundation
, 97% of the turtles rescued from the sea have plastics on their body and 80% of the waste found on the beaches of Buenos Aires are of that material.
As the number of people on the beaches grows, the amount of garbage also increases.
Currently, Argentina is among the 30 countries that waste more waste in the sea. According to the latest Marine Coastal Garbage Census 2019 conducted by the
Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina and other coastal NGOs,
the types of pollutants most found on the beaches were cigarette butts (27%); the fragments (20%), wrappers (8.1%) and bags (6.2%) of plastics; telgopor (8.6%), bottles and other containers (6.9%) and caps (6.2%). Of the most polluting residue, which are cigarette butts, 16,325 units were found. An alarming fact if it is considered that each of them can contaminate between eight and 10 liters of salt water and up to 50 liters if it is fresh water.
Each cigarette butt can contaminate between eight and 10 liters of salt water and up to 50 liters if it is fresh water.
Faced with this problem, a solution arises that, for the most part,
It is proposed by the locals but also invites tourists to participate: beach cleaning. It is a concrete action that teaches by example and brings together thousands of volunteers with a common cause. Isabel Múñoz (37), founder and coordinator of
Green Angels; Facundo Flores (37), member of
Remadores Playas Limpias and Gustavo Huici (63), executive director of
Surfrider Foundation Argentina, are some of the locals who fight pollution on the beaches every year.
“We were 10 vegan friends who organized picnics at sea and we could not enjoy a mate because we saw diapers, bags and even bottles floating in the waves,” recalls Múñoz, who 15 years ago moved from Avellaneda to Mar del Plata. As a result of the anguish that caused them to see so many residues in La Feliz, they founded in 2017 the NGO Ángeles Verdes, which militates in favor of sustainability and veganism. Each summer they organize at least three cleanings per month and participate in four vegan festivals.
“When they see us cleaning the beach, people instantly get up from their chairs and join. Children are the ones who receive us and cooperate,” says Múñoz. Although he acknowledges that there is a greater awareness, he believes that there is more and more garbage on the beaches: “If we continue like this, the forecasts will be fulfilled and by 2050 there will end up being more plastic than fish in the sea,” says the activist.
We could not enjoy a mate because we saw diapers, bags and even bottles floating in the waves.
Something similar happened to Facundo Flores:
When he joined surfing with his friends on the beaches of the northern area of Mar del Plata, he felt that he was “swimming over garbage.” Then, in 2016 they were grouped in the organization “Paddles Clean Beaches” from where they encourage cleanliness and encourage public policies regarding the beaches and their environment. “For us it is the patio of the house, we need it to be clean,” says Flores. The volunteer explains that although from the organization they add to cleanings almost every day, they prefer to attack the problem “thoroughly”:
they are in permanent contact with those responsible for the rain systems, they demand for the installation of more trash cans on the beaches, for a signaling that warns when it is harmful to bathe in the sea and ask for a greater control of the waste transport company of the coastal city.
For us it is the house patio, we need it to be clean.
Gustavo Huici, executive director of Surfrider Foundation Argentina, also grew up with the surfboard in hand and feels that he experienced the increase in consumerism (and therefore, of garbage) in the first person. “Before we were few who were on the beaches and saw how everything was changing. Maybe we found a glass of soda thrown on the sand, but today the plastic is everywhere,” he says.
Since its creation in 2002, Surfrider has focused on the preservation of “surf waves”, water quality, rain tributaries and beach cleaning. To these last ones, he affirms that more and more people join because he realizes that he must take responsibility for “his square meter of sand”. “There was an improvement in participation and in education. Usually when we start to pick up the waste people get positively turned on,” he concludes.
Under the motto:
“Local problems, global solutions”, these three foundations are part of
Environmental Coastal Forum, a group of organizations and socio-environmental movements that meet and work to promote and disseminate ideas, actions, presences, activities and tasks for coastal biodiversity.
“We realized that we were a lot and we got together to empower the cause,” Flores summarizes.
From collection to recycling
What is the destination of all the garbage collected on the beaches? Do you have any useful use? In Pinamar, thanks to an agreement with the municipality, the “Recycling Consciousness” cooperative receives all the waste and is responsible for classifying them into 24 different categories to give them a second life, through the recycling and construction of plastic wooden boards and production of ecoblocks of telgopor, polyethylene and rubble pavers and stepped sheets made of tetra brick aluminum. Carlos Méndez, executive director of the cooperative, explains:
“Once we make the classification we refer them to other companies or factories that ensure that the discarded object has sustainable traceability and is economically viable”.
Waste is provided to Recycling Awareness through the Municipality of Pinamar. The Secretary of Landscape and Environment, Samanta Anguiano, states that the beaches of Pinamar are cleaned every day with mechanical machines “barber” that
“They clean and classify garbage without raising natural resources.” Anguiano also says that the beaches “have improved exponentially” since the “coastal remediation” process. Another of the milestones that promoted sustainable development in Pinamar were the prohibition of the use of straws and delimited spaces for smokers on the beaches,
both driven by different NGOs last year.
(tagsToTranslate) Beach cleaning: how to join the sustainable movement of the Argentine coast – LA NACION
Publicado en el diario La Nación