Ready to change? Beat plastic pollution!

The EU Delegation to Montenegro, with the support of the EU Info Centre, is continuing the campaign for a cleaner environment. Through the award-winning eco-campaign “Be a Champion. Throw Litter in the Right Place”, the EUD has raised the awareness of the general population about the harmful effect of plastic waste on nature, especially in the areas of the national parks.

This time the focus is on single-use plastic, which we will fight through the campaign “Ready to Change? Beat Plastic Pollution!” The goal is to reduce the usage of single-use plastic and to switch to smarter solutions. The campaign will remind the public how much single-use plastic damages health and the environment, and will introduce more sustainable solutions. In order to show that we will not leave everything at mere words, the campaign started with clean-up activities on the Montenegrin coast.

Clean-up activities

The EU Delegation in Montenegro joined two global clean-up activities: “Let’s Do It, Montenegro” and “International Coastal Clean-up”, as part of an effort to combat plastic pollution and reduce single-use plastics.

Together with the ambassadors of EU member states and volunteers, the EUD representatives cleaned up Virpazar, a small, historical settlement, situated on Lake Skadar.

The volunteers and ambassadors cleaned up the lake shore, forest pathways, including the hill road leading to the 16th-century Besac Fortress, which was reconstructed with help from EU funds. “Let’s Do It, Montenegro” is part of the global “Let’s Do It” movement and is the largest organised clean-up activity organised in the country. This year 10,000 volunteers joined forces to clean up 47 tons of illegal waste all over the country.

The cleaning continued at the seaside. On Saturday, the staff of the EU Delegation, together with “Morsko Dobro”, the state agency that manages the coast, and the volunteers of the NGO “Zero Waste Montenegro” cleaned up Buljarica Beach in Budva Municipality. This was the second time that Montenegro joined in with this global activity, this time with the help of the EU Delegation, and as part of the #EUBeachCleanupDay movement. More than a hundred volunteers collected illegal waste from one of the most beautiful Montenegrin beaches and then sorted it appropriately, paying special attention to single-use plastics. The waste will be analysed and then sent for recycling

FACTS ABOUT PLASTIC POLUTION

  • Around 95% of marine litter ends up at the bottom of our ocean, causing damage to the seabed, fauna and flora. Only 5% is washed ashore. This means that when cleaning up beaches, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

  • In the EU, 80-85% of beach litter is made up of plastics. The non-plastic part (15-20%) is often inert (e.g. construction materials) or biodegradable (e.g. paper, wood) and therefore has a lower environmental impact.

  • Around 50% of the plastic beach litter in the EU is from single-use plastics. Click to see the top 10 items in beach litter. A global comparison shows a diverse list, but most items from the EU’s Top 10 are included, particularly plastic bags, cutlery, wet wipes, food containers (sometimes referred to as Styrofoam or polystyrene), straws and cups.

  • Globally 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is discarded into the ocean every year. About half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from fishing nets.

  • UN Environment has estimated the total natural capital cost to marine ecosystems of plastic littering damage at USD 13 billion per year.

  • In 2010 every EU citizen used an estimated 198 plastic carrier bags. Scientists claim that polythene bags take over 1,000 years to decompose.

  • The estimated size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a plastic, floating island of trash, ranges upwards from 700,000 square kilometres, which is bigger than France. It is estimated that the patch is made up of 80,000 metric tons of plastic, with 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. 

10 easy ways to reduce your plastic waste today

Although there are water treatment plants and recycling facilities, the most effective way to preserve the environment is, in fact, to not create waste, or at least to reduce the amount of waste that we make. Modern life has made us used to easier, cheaper and more available solutions, but in the end, some of them cost us a lot, and their replacements are actually not that complicated. Disposable plastic can be the first and easy choice, but it is certainly not the smarter and better option. Read these 10 easy solutions on how to reduce the use of disposable plastic, selected by treehugger.com.

According to one estimate, somewhere between five billion and one trillion plastic bags are used each year around the world. Although provided free to shoppers, these bags have a high environmental cost and are one of the most ubiquitous forms of litter. Bringing your own plastic bag when you go shopping is simple but good environmental advice – such good advice that some governments have implemented policies to encourage more people to do it.

Unless there’s some kind of contamination crisis, plastic water bottles are an easy target in reducing waste. Instead, keep a refillable bottle handy.

Speaking of refillable things, bringing your own travel mug for coffee to-go is another way to reduce your plastic footprint. Disposable coffee cups might look like paper but they’re usually lined with polyethylene, a type of plastic resin. In theory these materials can be recycled, but most places lack the infrastructure to do so. Then there are lids, stirrers and coffee vendors that still use polystyrene foam cups—which can all be avoided by bringing your own mug.

Generally speaking, it’s easier to recycle cardboard than plastic, plus paper products tend to biodegrade more easily. So, when you have the choice, pick pasta in a box instead of pasta in a bag or detergent in a box instead of a bottle.

Whether for home use or when you’re ordering a drink at a bar or restaurant, plastic straws are often a single-use item that’s just not necessary.

Much of the plastic that’s polluting the oceans is microplastics, tiny chunks that are next to impossible to filter out. These plastics can come from bigger items breaking down, but they are also commonly added to consumer products like face wash and toothpaste. These little beads are intended to be exfoliators, but many wastewater treatment facilities are unable to filter them out. There are many biodegradable alternatives, so avoid items with “polypropylene” or “polyethylene” on the ingredients list or consider making your own.

Instead of tossing a plastic razor into the rubbish every month, consider switching to a razor that lets your replace just the blade or even using a cutthroat razor.

If you have a young baby, you know how many nappies can end up in the litter every day. To reduce waste, use cloth nappies that you can easily wash.

For many households, the majority of plastic waste is generated in the kitchen. So one of the best ways to reduce the packaging waste madness is to bring your own bags and containers and stock up on bulk foods.

Use matches instead of disposable lighters. Many of these end up in the stomachs of dolphins and seabirds.

Giveaways on social networks

In order to raise awareness about the harmful effects of single-use plastics on social networks, the EU Info Centre organised a series of giveaways. Hundreds of social media users spread the good word by sharing videos about single-use plastic and sustainable replacements, and the luckiest ones received prizes, which were actual sustainable solutions, such as reusable bags and bottles. Stay tuned, because more giveaways are coming!