“Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.” The sky was not promising anything good and I kept repeating this phrase in my head as I went to the beach of Piazzale Kennedy, near the Fiera del Mare in Genoa. I also hoped that those clouds would not have discouraged the volunteers, at least a hundred, who were expected after the social tam-tam of the previous days. I turn around a bend and have a look at the stretch of coast from above. I see a lot of black dots scattered everywhere, on a beach that is usually deserted even in summer (because of the position, at the mouth of the port).
“Okei, the volunteers are there”. I’m late, but I’m sure there’s no shortage of work. I get off the bike and in a short time I recover two gloves. Now I need a big bag. “Try there, behind that truck”, says a volunteer from Greenpeace Genova, one of the “directors” of the day with Surfrider Genova.
I go, I pass the truck and in front of my eyes I see it for the first time: a hill of rubbish of every kind, shape, weight and color. The great protagonist is the plastic with what I think – I was optimistic – hundreds of bottles, as many cans and then rubbish of all kinds. Shoes, balloons, polystyrene, scrap metal and everything that can come to your mind, chewed and returned from the sea. Around this improvised dump dozens of people arrive with black bags to empty them for the second, third, fourth time to leave immediately to look for more.
The men of Amiu, a company that deals with refuse collection in Genoa, are responsible for supervising and helping with operations. They have already arranged the trucks to take care of the transport, once differentiated what is becoming a mountain. I recover the bag and leave.
I am intercepted by a group of volunteers who are going to an area of the beach, behind the cliff, which is still not very well beaten. We are about fifteen, each with its own black bag to cram. Within 20 minutes we all emptied and stirred at least once, then a voice to the megaphone: “Boys, attention”. Andrea is one of the founders of Surfrider Genova and engine of the day.
“Guys, it’s not over. We have to start sorting and counting all the waste collected.
The “troop” is divided. About fifty people remain scattered on the beach to collect and transport. The others arm themselves with patience and immersed up to the ankles they begin to divide the glass from the plastic, the polystyrene from the paper and make a count of everything they can. Why count them, you might wonder. The gravity of the problem is such that it is no longer enough to say there is a lot, a lot or too much plastic.
We are at the point where we must say that 200 people in 5 hours on a single beach have collected 2500 plastic bottles, 579 glass bottles, 342 various scrapers, 615 cans to which are added 5000 pieces of polystyrene (not counting the shot, only the large pieces), 932 plastic packaging, 1825 bags, 1225 caps, batteries of cars and motorcycles, boilers. Not counting the thousands and thousands of cigarette butts.
Add to this 3 waste trucks filled to the brim with undifferentiated waste. And don’t think it’s just a problem in Genoa. Everything that was on the beach arrived with the waves of the sea, after being hidden for some time. The plastic does not “decompose” and the sea returns everything, including a thin Viacard, as this photo shows. The date at the bottom bears the inscription “1958”, the price is still in lire. If they are not 60 years old, they are certainly at least 20. And she’s still there, just a little bit torn up.
In the face of bad weather, more than 200 people of all ages and backgrounds got their hands dirty during the day. The presence of many children belonging to the various scout groups and not only that have not spared themselves in fatigue is striking. We hope it will be a good omen and that other cities, towns and beaches, but not only, will follow suit. The cleaning day was organized by the volunteers of Greenpeace Gruppo Locale Genova and Surfrider Genova, with the collaboration of the City of Genoa and Amiu Genova Spa, for the morning of Saturday, February 23 in the area of the mouth of Genoa.
The event was attended by volunteers from the Genoese section of the Red Cross, the associations Controvento and Zena Netta, and some scout groups from the city. The initiative aims to help clean up a public area of the city, but also to raise awareness among citizens and policy makers about the risks associated with the unregulated use of disposable plastic packaging, which remains a few minutes in our lives, to remain sometimes decades or centuries in our seas.
Finally, we invite you all: if your beach is, like so many others, full of rubbish, organize a cleaning yourself! Using the website www.oceaninitiatives.org is really easy because it explains everything (such as the necessary permissions) and you can have the material (such as banners, gloves and bags) sent to you for the activity. And if you need some tips, write us a message on Surfrider Genova’s Facebook page.
You will be in the framework of the famous project called www.oceaninitiatives.org (over 50,000 participants in 2018 in more than 1000 cleanings in Europe).
“Time to take action” is the slogan of Medplastic, the project of Giornale della Vela and Barche a Motore for the preservation of the Mediterranean. Join the MedPlastic Team Facebook group, where you can post news, projects, photo reports, videos. Then take part in the Instagram NO Plastic contest (by sending a photo to our inbox instagram – @giornaledellavela – or to the Medplastic Team group, as all the authors of the photos we show you here have done): we will reward the best testimonials at the VELAFestival 2019. In addition, if you have structured projects to propose that you think may be useful to the “cause”, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. www.medplastic.org