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Sustainability Matters – September 2020

As World Clean Up Day approaches on 19 September, IbizaPreservation explains what it entails and how you can get involved.

Look up “Ibiza beaches” online and you'll find a seemingly endless succession of images of crystalline waters lapping gently against empty and pristine white sands. And, for a small island, we are indeed lucky to boast a vast array of beautiful long playas and picturesque little coves. However, regular visitors to these shores will know that reality is often a far cry from these picture-postcard-perfect shots.


Particularly at the height of the season, it's nigh-on impossible to hit the sand in Ibiza without coming across numerous cigarette butts, as well as other litter such as bottle tops, plastic cups, crisp packets, ice cream wrappers etc. Take to the water, and you'll likely encounter yet more detritus. Unfortunately, disposable masks have now been added to the long list of discarded items that clog up our coastline and, to make matters worse, this year the Balearic regional government has suspended its usual shore-cleaning service,

There are still municipal beach-cleaning services to deal with the worst of the mess, but it's far from enough. The responsible among us are already doing our bit to improve the situation, not just by taking away our own rubbish but by collecting other people's too. It's not an uncommon sight these days to see visitors plucking cigarette butts out of the sand or pulling plastic bags out of the sea.

Photo courtesy of Jon Izeta for IbizaPreservation

World Clean Up Day 2020

We applaud all those who do this and encourage all our readers to make it a part of their regular beachgoing ritual. And what better time to start than this coming Saturday 19 September 2020, which just happens to be World Clean Up Day?

For those who may not have heard of it, World Clean Up Day is an initiative that was born in Estonia back in 2008. What started with 50,000 people collecting rubbish in this tiny Baltic state has now become a worldwide movement uniting some 18 million people across more than 150 countries.

Plastic Free Ibiza and Formentera, a movement we at IbizaPreservation helped to create, has participated in this September event since 2018, rallying groups to join organised cleans all over the islands, whether at beaches, in the sea itself or at locations inland. This year, due to the restrictions necessitated by Covid-19, we are doing things a little differently and asking people to undertake their own, individual actions, ensuring of course that they comply with all the current safety measures.

Photo courtesy of Giada Forneris for Plastic Free Ibiza

How to participate

  • Choose a local area to clean. It doesn't have to be a beach – it could be a park, somewhere out in the countryside or even the street outside your house
  • Ask a couple of friends or family members to join you (always in groups of less than 10 with social distancing as necessary)
  • Wear masks to comply with the regulations and (reusable) gloves to protect your hands
  • Take several containers with you – rubbish sacks or, ideally, buckets – so that you can sort the litter you collect as you go
  • There are four categories of waste: ordinary waste (this includes cigarette butts, fishing wire, pieces of cloth, wood and microplastics); plastic and other containers (e.g. tins & Tetrapaks); glass; and paper or cardboard.
  • If you find large or potentially toxic items (e.g. asbestos), take a picture of it and a note of where you found it and contact your local town hall either by phone or via the Línea Verde app so that they can come and dispose of it.
  • Once you have finished, count and make a note of the number of containers you have filled and their size (eg three 10-litre buckets or two 30-litre rubbish sacks), along with a summary of the main types of litter found. Send the info to globalchangeibiza [at] gmail.com so the organisers can keep track of how much waste was collected overall.
  • Take a photo and post it on social media, tagging @plasticfreeibiza or @plasticfreeformentera and using the hashtags #worldcleanupday and #letsdoitibiza or #letsdoitformentera
  • Dispose of the rubbish at your local waste and recycling point: plastic and other containers go in the yellow bin, glass in the green bin, paper and cardboard in the blue bin, and all other rubbish in the grey bin

Finally, go home and give yourself a big pat on the back!

Cleaning our surroundings just one day a year clearly isn't going to solve the issue, which is why we need to tackle the root causes. Plastic Free Ibiza and Formentera is working hard to reduce the islands' waste problem by engaging with local businesses and other institutions, encouraging them to introduce reusable alternatives and move towards zero waste practices.

But events like World Clean Up Day are fundamental to making us all more aware of the waste we generate in our daily lives and where it goes once we've finished with it. By changing our attitudes and starting to adopt more sustainable consumption habits, we can ensure that every day is World Clean Up Day.

You can find out more about IbizaPreservation and donate towards their work by going to its website. You can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Check out Ibiza Spotlight's recommended eco-friendly businesses whilst you are here and help to support a greener, cleaner Ibiza and Formentera.

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