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''Trash travels: from our hands to the sea, around the globe, and through time''

This is the title of the Report released by the US-based Ocean Conservancy containing the results of
the 2009 International Coastal Cleanup campaign. The report of this activity, which HELMEPA
coordinates every year in Greece, provides the only global snapshot of the marine litter problem.

In total, 500,000 volunteers in 108 countries around the world collected 3.4 million kg of litter from
23,861 km of beaches as well as lake and river shores. It is worth noting that:

• 60% of litter items collected during voluntary cleanups were non-reusable, such as plastic
bottles and cups.
• 336 marine animals, including 138 birds, were found trapped in marine litter, mainly fishing line
and nets. 120 of these were still alive and were released by the volunteers.
• Half a million plates, forks, knives and spoons - enough to provide a complete set of
dinnerware to over 100,000 people, were disposed of on beaches.
• Volunteers found 58,881 bottles of oil/lube, which is the amount that would be used to change
the oil in nearly 12,000 mid-sized cars.

Oceans play an important role for the health of the entire planet - including ours. Irrespective of how
close to the coast we live, we are all connected to the oceans and every thing we need is connected
to them - from the air we breathe to the food we consume.

Marine litter is one of the most widespread pollution problems, with plastics constituting three
quarters of total litter items floating on the ocean surface and travelling long distances over many
years. Even when these break down to smaller particles, plastics in the marine environment have
impacts on ecosystems, wildlife and coastal economies. The increase of litter in the oceans
worldwide constitutes a worrying trend: beaches are covered with cigarette ends, sea turtles mistake
plastic bags for food while fish and other marine species get entangled and die in discarded fishing
gear.

It is time to stop using our seas as garbage dumps, to change our mentality and readjust our relation
with the seas and the entire planet. Let’s start systematically recycling and throwing our litter only in
waste bins.

We may become part of the solution to this problem by participating in voluntary coastal cleanups,
informing people around us and help towards the awakening of the local community in which we
belong.

This year, the International Coastal Cleanup Day is on Saturday 25 September and HELMEPA in
cooperation with Ocean Conservancy will coordinate for yet another year this initiative in Greece,
mobilizing volunteers, children and adults, throughout the country. But we don't have to wait till
September to show our sensitization. Let's start from now with the motto: "no plastics, no
garbage in our seas and on the beaches!!"