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The Seas: sewers against their will

The need to raise awareness regarding waste pollution that reaches Italian beaches by being thrown in toilets, is the centre of the campaign #NoRifiutinelWC embarked on by the environmental organisation Legambiente.


mares agua B ecolog basura alcantarilla contami pixabaySilvia Martínez


At a minimum, 10% of the waste found by the organisation’s activists was flushed away in toilets and 9% of this waste is made up of cotton buds used to clean ears.

The same happens with blister packs, plugs, compressions, dressings, toilet deodorizers and contact lens cases.

To these bad practices is added the fact reported by Legambiente in their report Mare Monstrum 2016, that 25% of sewage water in Italy ends up in the seas, lakes, and rivers without the necessary purification. The environmental organisation calls attention to the importance of acting in response to this degradation of the seas and calls for people to do everything necessary to be responsible  so that the toilet does not become the garbage bin into which all types of rubbish are thrown.

With this in mind, Legambiente is developing, in conjunction with Ogilvy Change, a world leader in web communication with more than 500 offices in 126 countries, scientific studies of behaviour, and cognitive and social psychology and is undertaking campaigns to improve public conduct.

mares agua ecolog pixabayIn their campaign #NoRifiutinelWC (No rubbish in the WC), the environmental group maintains that the problem of marine litter is reaching alarming proportions, and each year 8 million tons of waste end up in the world’s seas and oceans.

It is known that between 80 and 90% of so-called marine waste is plastic, which remains in the environment for hundreds of years, accumulating toxic substances and being ingested by marine life.  There are various options to reverse this trend that affects marine biodiversity, from buying products with less packaging to the more elementary conduct of utilizing designated garbage bins.

In line with this aim, the organisation is proposing that the Italian parliament legislate in favour of prohibiting – as was done with plastic bags – the production and commercialisation of these cotton bud sticks made of plastic, the same measure adopted by France for 2020 as well as calling for the mandatory information on product packaging to be more precise.

People shouldn’t let themselves be fooled by labels with the term ‘biodegradable’ or ‘flushable’, for which there is no good reason when using the rubbish bin doesn’t cost anything,”  maintains Legambient.

mares agua ecolog pixabay 1The launch of the tag #NoRifiutinelWC resulted from the trip of the Goleta Verde, the venerable boat belonging to the environmental organisation, which for 30 years has been going to see every summer to analyse the water quality, report on contamination and the inefficient and inadequate treatment of sewage water.

Marine waste in the Mediterranean is the big problem.  According to the research undertaken by Legambiente in New York, last June, around 500 tons of plastic is floating in the Mediterranean.

The study points to the fact that it is a zone of major biodiversity and at the same time one of six regions with the highest accumulation of floating waste, especially in the area between Italy, Spain and France, with evident risks for the environment, health and the economy.

“The Mediterranean Sea finds itself facing a severe threat from waste, which registers concentrations at the highest levels globally” according to Stefano Ciafani, general manager of Legambiente. He appealed to these countries to work together to reduce the problem by investigation and prevention.

mares agua ecolog pescado contami pixabayIn addition, the study proposes drastic measures such as the prohibition of the most contaminating products like non-biodegradable plastic bags, which Italy, France and Morocco have already implemented.

The alerts announced by the United Nations Environment Programme about the Mare Monstrum, which the Romans called Mare Nostrum, were corroborated by Legambiente with their initiative “Clean up the Mediterranean”.

That project was considered the organisation’s biggest initiative, with volunteers coordinated all along the coasts, and whose findings were presented at the World Environment Day this past 5 July. The experience included, among other actions, a scientific monitoring of the waste between 2014 and 2017 on 105 beaches in Italy, Algeria, Croatia, France, Greece, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.

Eighty-two percent of the waste found was plastic and 64% disposable material, while it was verified that 54% of beach pollution is due to inadequate urban waste management and the limited degree of prevention.

Legambiente maintains that to resolve the problem of marine waste: “the key word is cooperation, between countries, institutions, non-governmental organisations, research, economic organisations and productive actors.

mares agua ecolog botella mensaje pixabayThe waste contaminates and harms the marine ecosystem, and at the same time is ingested by fish which people eat, generating a circle of severe damage to human health.

The oceans, with more than 20,000 known species, many of which are edible, represent a significant source of protein for  2,600 million people. (PL)

Photos: Pixabay  –  (Translated by Inez Cifuentes)

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