Mission Possible: Fighting Plastic Pollution at Sea – Together
“In a world of rampant plastic pollution…“
Okay, we won’t get that dark on you but given MedSailors’ passion for the sea and sailing, the topic of eco-consciousness and plastic pollution around the world is more important than ever to talk about and tackle together. Especially the impact on our oceans.
Heaps of numbers and statistics are thrown around daily about pollution around the globe, but the issue of plastic pollution truly hits home when you come face to face with just how serious of a problem it is.
This year our teams were hit with the reality as they came face to face with the amount of rubbish floating in some of our destinations as the 2018 sailing season kicked off.
Seeing the extent of the pollution problem first-hand inspired many of the crew around MedSailors routes to put their heads together on and brainstorm ways of tackling this issue while sailing these beautiful destinations.
And better, how to clean up our seas together with you, the guests.
The best part was the shared enthusiasm of many of you, yes you all who sailed with us in 2018, to kick into gear and try to do our part to tackle the plastic pollution in the sea.
How exactly were MedSailors crew and guests tackling the plastic problem at sea?
Of course one of the last things you want when swimming in a breathtaking turquoise bay is to come out of the water with rubbish on your body…
That’s when the #MedSailorsBeachClean was born. Weekly, numerous groups of MedSailors crews and guests started hitting beaches around the Mediterranean on route to scour beaches and bays and grab as much rubbish as they could.
Some beaches that were nearly ankle deep in plastic bottles within weeks were beautiful and clean again. Just like we all imagine sailing in these paradise destinations would be like.
Though the amount of rubbish in certain bays could seem daunting and depressing, it was clear after a couple of weeks that a difference was being made. Beaches we had come across littered with bottles, caps, and straws were clearing up again.
As beach cleanups became more regular, so did the growing urge with guests and crew to do more about the issue, exchanging ideas on how to become more eco-friendly at sea and abroad.
More initiatives grew from this initial spark of an idea. Besides the weekly beach cleanups groups were doing, friendly competitions formed between skippers and guests on who could scoop the most rubbish out of the sea while sailing to the next destination.
But hey, when the seas are cleaner, we are all winners!
FLOATIE RECYCLING PROGRAM
We know how amazing it is to be relaxing under the hot sun, shades on and a cold drink in hand, with your worries floating away on that inflatable unicorn. But it’s also a very large amount of plastic being brought into the countries and getting left behind.
One initiative we trialled this year on our Greece Saronic route was the floatie recycling program, and we are happy to announce it was an enormous success! Guests were encouraged not to bring new floaties with them or purchase new ones as MedSailors staff were reusing floaties from weeks prior to raise money for a marine conservation cause. This led to eliminating hundreds of new plastic inflatables from either being brought into the country or purchased there.
By the end of the season after trialling this for a few months, the team in Greece raised over €1,300 for charity simply by reusing the floaties that we already had instead of them being binned at the end of each week.
The non-profit organization Archipelagos, the Institute of Marine Conservation in Greece, was chosen by our MedSailors Greece team to donate this money raised because of their extensive work in research, conservation, and defence of marine life and long-running work in cleaning up the Greek seas and the Mediterranean since 1998. Also, they are currently creating the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary to rehabilitate injured dolphins, monk seals, and turtles.
Check out their amazing work here!
BAGS OF ETHICS
One of the biggest culprits of the plastic issues at sea are the single-use products like shopping bags. In countries like Croatia, we saw large marinas banning plastic bags in shops, but many of the small marinas and towns we visit hadn’t adopted this policy.
Even before the MedSailors 2018 season kicked off, the desire to grow into a more sustainability-conscious company led to our partnership with Bags of Ethics for the production of our guest tote bags. To encourage guests to use less plastic bags while sailing during the summer for all of those schnacks shops, these eco-friendly and bio-degradable bags were handed out in with the goal of reducing our plastic consumption as a whole.
Bags of Ethics being made with eco-friendly dyes and fabrics while being produced in ethical factories made it a perfect fit for MedSailors.
TIPS TO BE MORE ECO-FRIENDLY AT SEA:
- Bringing Eco-Friendly Toiletries
- Grabbing a recycled floatie at check-in instead of bringing one
- Bring a reusable water bottle to refill
- Say no to straws at bars and restaurants
- Ask for no plastic lid or straw with iced coffees
- Bring your own coffee cup, maybe one of those nifty collapsable ones
- Use your MedSailors tote for shopping and ditch the plastic bags
- Take part in a MedSailors beach cleanup on route
- Try to recycle whenever possible while sailing
- Choose cone over the cup for all those gelatos you’ll eat
- Calculate carbon footprint and give a little to offset travel emissions at ClimateCare
WE’RE IN IT TOGETHER
Simple changes made rippling effects and it is very clear just how passionate crew and guests were about cleaning up our seas, and keeping them clean. Ideas that were shared grew to impactful initiatives on the different routes — ideas that have pushed MedSailors to rethink the experience for future MedSailors sailing holidays as a whole and how to reduce our footprint.
As we move toward our MedSailors 2019 season, we will continue to strive to grow into a more eco-conscious company, building off of the amazing initiatives we saw from MedSailors teams and guests all around the Med and improving our own sustainability of our sailing holidays with your help.
A BIG THANK YOU
From all of us at MedSailors, we want to give a big thank you to all of those who shared ideas and joined in on the different initiatives across our routes. From the beach and sea cleans, to the recycling programs, fundraising, and everything in between — your combined effort made a clear difference. With all of the great ideas that sprouted up throughout the 2018 season with crew and guests, we can look to our 2019 MedSailors season to continue to lessen our impact at sea and be more proactive about the cleaning up our planet.