On the occasion of the World Plastic Bag Free Day (3/7), several targeted and diverse actions were organised in Alonissos, the island that banned plastic bags as of December 1st, 2015, under the "Plastic Bag Free Alonissos" project, which is implemented by the Mediterranean SOS Network and MOm/The Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal, with the collaboration of the Municipality of Alonissos and funded by Thalassa Foundation.
The aim of these actions was to further inform citizens and visitors of Alonissos on the effects of marine litter, especially of plastic bags and on the objectives and progress of the project as well as to earn feedback from the local community and tourists regarding the transition towards abolishing plastic bags.
In this context, during Saturday and Sunday afternoon (2 & 3/7) several open participatory actions were held at a central place near the port, where passers-by were directly and in a fun way invited to provide their input and evaluate the various actions of the “Plastic Bag Free” Alonissos project implemented so far and, also, express their ideas for improving the effort. Many residents and visitors from Greece and abroad showed great interest and were willing to engage in the events. According to their comments and suggestions, it was evident that there is a need to extend the abolition of plastic bags to more areas who will follow the example of Alonissos. Notably, visitors coming from foreign countries where the plastic bag has long been removed, seemed particularly pleased that the island they chose to visit embraced the initiative and the fact that it is in line with European environmental standards. Others expressed reservations about the immediate enforcement of the measure, particularly so in relation to the necessity of alternative packaging that will replace plastic carrier bags. In parallel, and in the context of the event for adults, interactive games for children including creative crafts were also organised, with the aim of teaching them more about marine litter and its impact.
During the two-day events, the local Coordinating Committee that emerged through participatory processes held at an earlier stage of the project, visited local shop-keepers and businesses of the island and distributed the respective labels/stickers that certify their support and active participation to the “Plastic Bag Free Alonissos” project.
Finally, actions included beach cleaning of the coasts of Peristera, an island in the Marine Park of Alonissos. These specific actions, carried out during both days of the weekend, were quite revealing regarding the volume of litter that can be carried to an uninhabited island by sea currents and thus, the enormous amount of pollution that can be found in our seas.