I can’t deny it, going single-use-plastic free is tough. It’s hard enough in a household but at events or in companies and schools, or on board boats, sourcing sustainable alternatives in our plastic-obsessed society takes a huge amount of time and energy.
So … that’s the down side, but, thankfully, there are people on our awesome island who look upon a few problems as a challenge. They recognise that our need to cleanse our land and oceans of plastic is so intense that they are prepared to go the extra mile. These few are the pioneers, the guys that will make it easier for the rest of us to save our planet, the ones who start the snowball rolling and, as such, they deserve our heartfelt thanks and our recognition.
During the past month there have been a number of these legends doing their utmost to show us that plastic-free is worth fighting for.
Ariel Eder of Seeds Smart Events named his company because he was inspired to plant more trees and seedlings by the Australian drive to mix urban events with sustainable living improvements. Here on the island he saw the work that we were doing at Asociación Ondine which led him to embrace the idea that local events should go plastic free.
When organising Vins amb Art – the great wine tasting, music and art event in Playa de Muro – he told all participants that if they brought in single-use-plastic, they shouldn’t be there.
“It’s incredibly challenging,” Ariel admitted before the start of the two night bonanza. “Just the staffing logistics of getting filtered drinking water into glass carafes on all the tables, and refilling them all night, is much harder than just doling out a load of bottled water, but this has to become the norm.
“I’m also really worried about the food trucks,” he confided, “they’ve all been told ‘no bottled soft drinks, no cling film, no plastic plates or cutlery’ but I only need one of them to not get with the programme … after all they are not being paid to come, it’s out of the kindness of their hearts that they are supporting the event.
“Everybody seems to have been collaborating really well. I know that the vegan wraps will be wrapped in paper, the flyers are on recycled paper, but it is a change in mind-set for everyone and sometimes mistakes are made.”
These worries were echoed by the Calvia Rotary Club who were also trying to go single-use-plastic free for the first time on their annual charity walk.
“This year it’s a juggling act,” organiser Janet Siegl said on the run down to the big event. “We are being completely strict about water because we have managed to get The Rocket on site to fill everybody’s reusable water bottles for free and there is more water refill stations available along the route.
“Most people are in agreement with making the event single-use-plastic free, but we expect 500 to one thousand people to come and walk for our charities, many of whom will be from the local schools. If a child is giving up their Saturday to walk 10 kilometres for charity you have to at least provide bocadillos and biscuits to keep their blood sugar up, but most biscuits arrive plastic wrapped inside the boxes! With several hundred children to feed it’s hard to know what to do. I hope that by next year we will have everything in place to make the event completely single-use-plastic free.”
However, taking plastic water bottles out of any event is a great step forward, especially considering the fact that 1.5 million plastic bottles are thrown away every single day in the Balearics.
The Cleanwave organisation have made it far easier for organisers to avoid using plastic bottles. Their mobile “Rocket” now offers free drinking water at many events around the archipelago. Their example and know-how is leading more business every day to sign up to become part of the Cleanwave network.
“Water is life. It has to be free,” Philipp Baier, the brains behind Cleanwave, said. The organisation helps bars, gyms, restaurants and an array of other businesses open to the public, to fit filters to one of their normal taps so that it provides perfect drinking water.
“The final cost is one or two cents per litre,” Phillip explained. “This pays for the installation and an annual filter change. The business can then display that it is part of the Cleanwave refill network and is able to sell the Cleanwave stainless steel bottles should it wish to.” The Association is already talking to tourism giants and local authorities on the islands to try and get free water for tourists and residents alike throughout the archipelago.
Palma College is another of the trail blazers. Students and staff there are not only making every effort to go single-use-plastic free within the school, but are conducting an in-depth audit of all plastics coming into the College in their quest to become the first single-use-plastic free school. Recognising the importance of everyone working together to solve our plastic problems, they will be sharing the knowledge gleaned from their audit with Asociación Ondine so that we can help them and other schools and businesses to find better alternatives more easily.
To all of the guys mentioned above, and to every person who refuses single-use plastic in anything from nappies to ear-buds, cling film and bags to bottles – you are the heroes. You can make manufacturers change their practices. You can set the snowball rolling. You are all Legends. Thank you.
Photos: The Cleanwave “Rocket” & Students with their reusable water bottles at Palma College