Mallorca’s Plastic Problem and how to make a difference with your own Dos Manos

If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you’re lucky like me in being able to say you live on the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca. Strolls along the Bay of Alcudia, sunset drinks in Portixol and Es Trenc tanning sessions; it’s all everyday stuff for us 😉 But because of those stunning beaches Mallorca’s hardly the Med’s best kept secret!

Only last year over 9 million people flew in to soak up some rays and slurp on seaside sangria’s which is why you’ll hear anything from Danish to Dutch, and from Mancunian to Mallorquin on any of La Isla’s abundance of beaches. Our beaches are bu-sy and this gets reflected in the amount of rubbish left behind every day of which the sight alone is enough to make you shake your fist in fury! But apart from blighting our beaches it’s affecting our marine life and ecosystems in ways that will be impossible to reverse. Last year it was estimated that no less than 250 billion pieces of micro plastic are floating around the Mediterranean, turning the sea into a plastic soup ingested by fish and even plankton, the base of the whole food chain! Also according to a study recently conducted in Barcelona 70% of Balearic shearwaters, a critically endangered species, contain plastic fragments! 70!

The Balearic shearwater, a critically endangered species.  Licensed under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The Balearic shearwater, a critically endangered species.
Licensed under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

And while I’m no beach bum myself I still prefer my beaches bottle less thank you very much, which is one of the reasons I love Dos Manos, Mallorca based Asociación Ondine‘s approach to dealing with plastic pollution . ‘Take 30 minutes and two hands to clean up yOUR world anytime, anywhere’ is their slogan. And while they support the spirits of the big international clean up days Dos Manos call upon people like you and me to organise an ally (or not), pick a date and see what you can do with 2-4 hands in thirty minutes. And it’s this taking things back to grassroots what makes this project so cool as it concentrates on the things you and me can do for the places we care about anytime we want. Whether that’s picking up the crisp packets and plastic cups along Palma’s Paseo Maritimo, the chocolate wrappers and coke bottles on Cala Comtessa’s fine, soft sand or the random pieces of plastic in the port of Pollensa. And whether you do it because you’re concerned about the state of the Med, you want to protect seagulls from getting entangled in plastic six-pack rings or the sight of the abandoned remains of a picnic on your favourite stretch of sand is enough to wish you could track down the culprit and chuck him in the middle of the Pacific Trash Vortex, what you or you and a mate can do with two manos is easy.

Only a couple of minutes into the clean up!

Only a couple of minutes into the clean up!

So how does it work?

1) Get gloves, a bag / bucket together and download the Dos Manos audit sheet

2) Spend 30 min picking up as much plastic pollution as possible

3) Take a pic of you and your ‘haul’

4) Dispose of the collected rubbish correctly

5) Post your pic on the Dos Manos Facebook Page, sharing the results of your activities and letting the Dos Manos people know what plastic pollution you have removed from our beaches.

Me? I live a very fortunate 5 min from Anima beach in Palma and was curious to see how bad things are in winter. From afar the beach seemed quite clean but on closer inspection the shore was actually chocker with trash. So I set out last Saturday morning and after half an hour had collected a confused jumble that could inspire most contemporary artists to create a masterpiece! I picked up: 59 plastic bottles, 9 crisp packets, 18 plastic cups, 7 random bits of foam, half a chair, part of a trolley, an umbrella, torn police tape (?), a paint tube and a big heap of plastic bags which all together culminated in half a k of cleaned up beach.

I’m fully aware I didn’t save the planet that Saturday morning and definitely don’t deserve a big pat on the back but I did make Mallorca a teeny, weeny, tiny bit cleaner and that’s a helluva lot better than sipping cafe-con-leche’s complaining about those lousy litterers right?

And just imagine if half of all 858.313 Islanders would use their two manos for half an hour to pick up some plastic? This would result in no less than 214.000 km’s of beautifully, clean, clear beach. That’s the equivalent of all Mallorca’s 179 beaches… times 4280!

Just sayin’.. 😉

30 min and half a K of clean beach later!

30 min and half a K of clean beach later!