by Taetske | 11:49 am
(Last Updated On: October 25, 2019)

 

Modern technology in the battle against plastic

 

Burned-land

Burned-land

 

The plastic story

I have lived in the south of Spain since 1976 and I love it here. After living in many European countries, I ended up here by coincidence and luck. My guest country has been kind to me and over the many years, not without effort I must say, I have been able to transform an abandoned farm into my little paradise.

I have followed the political ups and downs and had to adapt to new rules and regulations, which overall, have been positive to the country. I have observed that we also suffer the consequences of Global Warming/Climate Change. Winters are getting milder and the summers are getting hotter.

This is especially evident this summer (2019), as one heatwave follows the other, and it is not funny. Last year, the same as this year there are huge fires in Portugal and Spain. Often whole villages have to be evacuated and nature is destroyed.

I have observed something on my farm and this is the first time ever. I have a drip-system for the orange trees. The field is divided into 2 parts. On the field is the place where you only have to open a valve to then close the other valve and the water flows to the other part to irrigate.

As I said I have never seen this before. Big black ants, who live in the 200-year-old cypress tree, came down, climbed over some plants, and marched to the close by the place where the valves are situated. There is one spot at a connection where there is a little humidity, it does not leak so there is no need to repair. For the ants, it is sufficient as a water source and they came to drink by the hundreds. I think they must be suffering the heat.

It will only get worse with time as you can see on this YouTube video.

 

 

By the year 2100, the temperatures will be so high that nobody will be able to live in Spain or Portugal anymore. Everybody will have emigrated to the north.

My post is not going to be about the extremely hot weather but about things which are related and also about a couple of very simple solutions, which, if they were to be implemented worldwide, could make a big difference. This is a post telling you what is happening in the south of Spain.

On the Costa del Sol, with Malaga as the province capital, there are some serious environmental problems. Plastic overload, cigarette butts, and tattooed fruits and vegetables. Let’s start with plastic.

 

The alarm bell is ringing on the Costa del Sol

Plastic has invaded us in the form of textile fibers from clothing, all kind of plastic items on the beaches, plus a huge load of microplastics on the seabed of the Alboran Sea, which is part of the Meditteranean Sea. To make you understand this here come some data.

Of microplastics, 30 particles are found in 1 kilogram of sand. This equates to 500 particles in 1 m2. You can hardly see these particles as they are less than 1 millimeter in diameter.

In marine sediments, it is even worse. Between 130 and 300 particles can be found in 1 kilogram of sediment.

Sand samples have been analyzed and the sources of these microplastic particles come from plastic bottles, cellophane, and textile fibers. You might wonder about the textile fibers, but that can easily be explained. After each washing, an article of clothing loses some fibers and since almost all clothing is made from polymers such as polyester, you can see where it comes from.

Because a washing machine does not filter the fibers, these are all released to the wastewater treatment systems. In summer the wastewater treatment plants are overloaded and cannot cope with the volume as there are too many people, so part of these fibers end up in the sea. The type of fiber which is the problem is the acrylic fiber.

One important factor should not be forgotten. As those microplastics are so small and everywhere, they can be inhaled by humans and animals alike causing grave danger to their health.

Then there are the so-called macroplastics. Larger particle sizes that are visible to the naked eye but still relatively small. Their sizes are between 2.5 millimeters up to 5 millimeters in diameter, and they come from a rope, bottle caps, cotton buds, polystyrene, and many more sources.

There have been 72 clean up actions between 2013 and 2018 and 25.000 objects were collected. It all helps but we can do a lot better.

The sources of micro and macro plastics are from; tourism, 26%; maritime transport, 18%; sanitation, 8%; fishing activity, 1% with the remainder undetermined.

 

Plastic pollution on the beach

Plastic pollution on the beach

 

Reduce plastic

We need to move away from plastic bottles and cellophane. Doing that would be very positive and have an immediate impact. We can replace plastic rings holding a six-pack of beer with a more biodegradable product and let’s not forget that the plastic straws can also be replaced. All these items can cause marine life great harm. Turtles, dolphins, sea lions and seabirds might get entangled in these items.

Adult birds have been observed feeding plastics to their young. In general, animals cannot distinguish plastic from real food. Plankton consumes microplastic particles, small fish consume microplastics and the plankton, and because it is bioaccumulative, it is in the food chain. Small fish are food for bigger fish, other animals, and humans. If we do not inhale, or drink it, we will eat it. Not a pretty picture.

 

Cigarette ends stuck into the sand

Cigarette ends stuck into the sand

 

The danger of cigarette butts

I have written a post on cigarette butts, which is a huge polluter worldwide. Up till now, when going to the beach, people would put the stub in the sand and that was it. Slowly but surely people become conscious that this is not a good idea. In certain places, before stepping onto the beach, people are handed small ashtrays, so that helps.

In most of the municipalities of the Malaga province, there have been talks about making the beaches smoke free. This proposal came from the regional health authorities and is now being discussed in the meetings of the town halls.

When you know that 1 cigarette end contaminates 8 liters of water, it makes you think about what you are swimming in. The fact that a cigarette filter takes 10 years to decompose, and leaks tar, lead, and nicotine in the meantime, makes one realize this should not be thrown out into the environment.

As beaches are public places, there should be no smoking on them. The same rules should apply here, as in other public places, where smoking is strictly forbidden. People need to get used to the idea, but I am sure this new regulation will soon become the norm here. The cleaning of the beaches is paid by the local tax money, which then could be used for something else.

 

Sand-dunes of Gran Canaria

Sand-dunes of Gran Canaria

 

Smoke-free beaches in Spain

There are already 7 regions in Spain which have smoke-free beaches. There are some beaches in Galicia, Asturias, Catalonia, Murcia, the Balearic Islands, and the Canaries. In Andalucia, there is only one, up till now, in the province of Granada. On the Motril beach, smoking is no longer allowed. In case you should plan a holiday to Spain with a beach visit included you might like to read this link on the do’s, and don’ts on the beach.

 

Stop plastic wrapping of produce

Some time ago, I also wrote on the overload of plastic wrappings for fruits and vegetables. Then you have those annoying stickers, which will end up in the landfills. Items were generally wrapped in plastic simply to label them and put an identification sticker on them. All this wrapping is nonsense as nature provides most of her products with a natural wrapping, the skin or peel. There is a better method to mark the items that has been recently introduced.

 

 

There are local companies who have switched over, from using plastic to wrap their produce, to tattooing their fruits and vegetables with a laser system, which does not damage the inside and neither the skin. One company, BioAlgarrobo, has been using this technologically advanced method for over a year and is very pleased with the results.

 

Conclusion

It is obvious there is still a lot to be done to make the world a cleaner place. The best thing is to start with where you live. Do not throw your waste out, put it in the recycle bins. No more cigarette butts on your beach and even if it is still allowed to smoke there, do not dirty the sand with the cigarette ends.

Go shopping with your own bags and you could ask your supermarket when they will start to tattooing the fruits and vegetables you buy. Everything helps, let us start now.

 

Source: Newspaper SUR in English, June 7th to 13th 2019, article by Ivan Gelibter. Article on Cigarette Butts same newspaper and date, by Angel Escalera.

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

We can do quite a bit about improving our immediate environment. Perhaps you like to read the following post.

How To Improve Your Environment With Edible-Landscapes

Comments

RoDarrick

In truth, this issue of plastic overload is becoming very alarming and proper precautions needs to be done to it. Changes in the world begins with individuals, we all need to sensitize ourselves about the harms that our ignorance is turning the world into.I think the manufacturing companies too need to take a big step away from plastic production to devising alternatives. We shouldn’t displace ourselves out of ignorance. Thanks

Aug 17.2019 | 06:45 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Ramos,

    There are alternatives to plastic like for example Hemp. It is an issue of rethinking our actions. Being responsible at home and reducing the use of plastic, go shopping with your own bags, recycle, etc, it all helps.

    Did you see the Save the Planet below my photo?. I discovered bUnited at the beginning of July. This is an innovative idea and I have joined, please have a look.

    Thank you for leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 18.2019 | 06:25 am

Feochadan

I live on an island in Canada in a small fishing village with another village at the other end of this small island.  The island is dotted with beautiful coves and spectacular views.  Many sea birds and aquatic life abounds.  However, because of humans our beaches end up looking like the one in your article.  This isn’t just trash (mainly plastics) washed up from shore but from people visiting these areas and just leaving their garbage behind.  It makes me shake my head at the human race.

At the same time, we have endangered whales dying off.  Why?  Because they get tangled in fishing nets and consume a lot of plastic.  If we do not start taking this problem seriously we will see more species going extinct and our planet a much worse place to live because of it.

Aug 17.2019 | 06:54 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Feochadan,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.

    So sorry to hear that where you live the beach is also polluted with plastic. It is a worldwide problem. Here in Spain as there is a lot of tourism the beaches are cleaned every evening. Still, plastic is everywhere. Recently, off the coast not far away from Malaga a 9 tonnes mountain of wet wipes was discovered and a big cleaning action was started. 

    Under my photo on the right-hand side, you see Save the Planet. You might care to click and see if this resonates with you too.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 18.2019 | 06:18 am

Carol5162

Global warming is real, and it is happening. It is shocking that the heatwave will be felt in the near future. A few countries have put a ban on plastics in the hope of reducing after effects.

Thank you for the comprehensive breakdown of plastics and their sources. It is sad to imagine that most if not all these plastic pollution is caused by humans. If we all used common sense especially in disposing, then we would be a little safer. It is really sad that animals and birds feed on plastics thinking it is food.

This article is very insightful.

Aug 29.2019 | 06:44 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Carol,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.

    Yes, it is sad that all the problems we have in our world are caused by humans. So much has been destroyed in such a short time that one wonders where the future generations will live.

    Please have a look at the green widget under my photo, it might resonate with you.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 30.2019 | 01:20 pm

Henderson

This is a very real post you have written here. Plastic overload is an issue that we need to look into seriously. I have seen quite a number of times people throw cigarette butts in the sand in beaches and the issue with fruit wrapped in plastic.

We really need to be wary of our environment mostly because of the next generation coming up. We are not helping matters and we also need to educate others. You have also added some very nice tips too. Thanks for the educative and enlightening post.

Aug 29.2019 | 06:48 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Henderson,

    Thank you for your comment. Nice to see you again.

    A lot of things are wrong in our world and that really is not necessary. Human greed is the main culprit and after that plain ignorance. It is high time we wake up before it is too late.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 30.2019 | 01:27 pm

Ray

What an interesting post. I can relate to so much of it. I was a produce manager of a large retail company for many years and am well aware of all the wrapping and pricing policies. You’re right. It’s not a pretty picture and things can be done better.

This is the first I have heard about tattooing produce items as I don’t believe this is being done anywhere in Canada yet. What an excellent idea. Also, much of the plastic wrapping that was once used is already being reduced and more products are being sold in their natural state. For example, apples sold in plastic bags have become apples sold individually.

The country will soon be outlawing plastic straws and plastic bags used to pack groceries. The current grocery store plastic bags end up in the landfill and the new bags can be added to vegetable and fruit compost bins as they are biodegradable.

Interesting that I have come across your post today as just yesterday my city passed a bylaw that makes it illegal to throw a cigarette but on the street or sidewalk. The fines range for $250 to $750 dollars. The highest fine is reserved for those who butt out their cigarettes on any of the city pathways reserved for walkers, runners, and bikers.

I truly believe that the world is finally waking up to the dangers of plastic pollution. I sincerely hope it’s not too late to save our planet for future generations.

Aug 29.2019 | 06:55 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Ray,

    Thank you for stopping by and your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.

    Great idea to give a hefty fine for those who throw cigarette buts on the street. I live in an extremely clean village in the south of Spain. Here that type of fine does not exist. We do have one for dog owners, they need a doggy bag, not the one of the restaurant. Lately, dog owners also need a bottle of water to “flush”, I think that is a good idea.

    Recently I wrote another post on plastic telling about the export business of shipping your waste overseas, very strange things are happening in our world for sure. It is good that the internet exists, the news gets around the globe so fast sometimes I cannot keep up with it. At least people are hearing about things which is good, but action needs to be taken. Please have a look at the green widget under my photo, it might resonate with you.

    Did you hear about that other happening? In Greenland there was a farewell ceremony with plaque included saying goodbye to the first glacier. Definitely something needs to happen like a Global wakeup.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 30.2019 | 01:53 pm

Alejandra

I’ve moved to Canada 8 years ago and this is the first year I noticed how warm Summer was!

Week after week, temperatures reached over 30 C with no rain at all, it’s the first time I saw the town houses lawn turning first yellow then brown.

As you say in your article the use of plastic has grown into big proportions to make a huge problem around the world, no matter where you live you can see some problems everywhere.

The use of plastic bags during years has made a problem, today many people are changing their habits to carry a “green bag” everywhere, but not all the people are into it.

I visited Mexico this past Spring and one day I had to go to the store, the owner told me people get mad when they are told they won’t get anymore a plastic bag 🙁

Here in Quebec, no matter where you go, you don’t get a plastic bag anymore, and people is OK with it.

We need to make changes, but must of all we need to get re-educated to carry always with us a “green bag” everywhere and also a portable bottle for the water.

As you were sharing the story about ants walking a long way to drink water, made me think on them, on all the animals, they are all having hard times because of us.

We all need a long way to go and do the right thing to save our planet!

Aug 29.2019 | 06:58 pm

    Taetske

    Hola Alejandra, nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.

    Yes, this summer was a hot summer. As I live 8 km inland from the coast it was ok here but inland, in the North of Spain and many other European countries had heatwave after heatwave. It will not take long then the whole of the South of Europe will need to emigrate to the North. I wonder if all those people will fit.

    I was talking to a Spanish woman some days ago and she told me that little children at the age of 3 years are taught the basics of ” green” living. They recycle etc. I think that is brilliant to teach them at a young age. They are the ones who will raise families in 20 to 25 years. I hope that by that time our planet is still intact but I wonder.

    We always go shopping with our own bags. Plastic bags are disappearing and if you have to pay. Animals are suffering worldwide because of plastic pollution. Now we have all those huge wildfires, so sad.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 30.2019 | 02:13 pm

Austin Grady

Thank you for sharing this information. What I appreciate most is your call to action for making some changes. It’s easy to think “They ought to do something about this” but it’s an entirely different story for us to take responsible action ourselves. Here in California, we are pretty good about bringing our own bags to the supermarket. But we are terrible about over-wrapping everything in plastic. 

I think a campaign to ask our supermarkets when they will start to tattooing the fruits and vegetables we buy will get a quick response. I’m thinking if we mention BioAlgarrobo as a tattoo source and the positive response they can expect from their customers, things would change, You have shared urgent information and great suggestions about how we can make a difference! 

Aug 29.2019 | 06:59 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Austin,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.

    We are responsible for our planet, we should protect our environment as future generations would also like to raise their families here. It does not look good at the moment.

    Did you see the green widget under my photo? there you will find bUnited, it might resonate with you.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 31.2019 | 01:37 pm

Chloe

This is a topic not to be overlooked. The issue of dropping our left overs around the place is turning the earth at large into a big waste bin. Prior to the time where plastic companies would get a better result rather than plastic, I would love the recycling companies to be very active as well. One person is making a wring move, the other should find a solution before we all get it right eventually. Thanks for this wonderful post.

Aug 29.2019 | 07:07 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Chloe,

    I was surprised to hear in my village in the south of Spain that little children at the age of 3 years old are told the basics about conserving the environment. These young children will inherit the planet with all the problems the grown-ups are causing.

    Thank you for leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget

    Aug 31.2019 | 01:45 pm

Tim

In Australia, most of the country has a lightweight plastic bag ban, I’m not sure about other states but in Western Australia it is illegal for supermarkets and shop owners to distribute those bags. It could be a pain sometimes, I still forget to bring my own bags for groceries and have to pay 15 cents for a new reusable bag, but I guess environment is so much more important than 15 cents.

We are still using plastic stickers on fruits and veges so I think the laser tattoo idea is really smart. Not sure if that will increase the cost of products though.

Aug 29.2019 | 07:08 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Tim,

    Thank you for your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.

    Plastic is everywhere. I recently read it is even in salt which is harvested. I have written quite a few posts on plastic for both my websites. On the Costa del Sol, just off the coast of the town of Nerja a big mountain, 9 tonnes, of wet wipes was discovered in the sea. The government had to get a ship from the North of Spain to come to clean up this ecological disaster.

    Did you see the green widget under my photo? Please have a look, it might resonate with you.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 31.2019 | 01:57 pm

grea8J

Good job that is going on there in Spain. As more people get educated on these issues, I believe we can make a gradual change, for example, textile industries need to make a change of perspective by making long-lasting clothing from organic fabric instead of using polymer that we only have to use for a few months and get discarded as they end up littering everywhere causing environmental pollution.

Aug 29.2019 | 07:14 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Grea,

    Of course, it would be good if we would get away from acrylic clothes but if we do there will be another problem. Actually there is another problem already. Cotton production, like for our jeans, is a big water waste and the dyes are polluting the waters. I wrote a post about that, here is the link.https://motherearthstreasures.com/why-fashion-has-a-negative-impact-on-the-environment

    The best thing would be to use Hemp. There are many things wrong in our world and it is time we do something about it. Did you see the green widget under my photo? Please have a look, an innovative idea to help the planet and people.

    Thank you for your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 31.2019 | 02:39 pm

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