BY GLOBAL PROGRAM COORDINATOR BLAKE HIGHT
This month our team in India has been finalising the preparations for the Plastic Free for the Sea campaign and working with our local partners to provide them with additional income for creating sustainable products. The Plastic Free for the Sea campaign will target plastic straws, cutlery, soft wrapping and plates, replacing them with sustainable alternatives that are compostable and locally produced. We have discussed our project with the Kerala Tourism Department and Ecoservice, the people who are responsible for the cleaning of the Kovalam beachfront, and they are supportive of our ideas and excited to work with us on the project.
As part of the Plastic Free for the Sea initiative (and our wider project goals in general) we have begun our beach surveys and cleanups along Kovalam's beaches, with the assistance of Ecoservice employees. This has been difficult up until now due to the erratic behaviour of the ocean from the monsoon season. We were able to run a few surveys in between the chaotic weather, however we are now hopeful that we can proceed with them on a regular basis. This is important if we want to take a scientific approach to the surveys and gather data to help with our future projects. We will also be able to share our data with the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MD-MAP), who map the types, quantities and location of marine debris worldwide.
So far the beaches have been quiet due to the monsoon season and recent floods which have kept tourists away. But it is now getting busier, which means more waste will be discarded on the beaches. Given this, we are anxious to start reducing the amount of plastic used on the beaches. Through the implementation of a new collection system that works for the community, as well as our education and training programs, our Plastic Free for the Sea program will create ocean leaders who can work with the community to finally turn the tide on plastic pollution.
Watch this space!