In the context of the “Alonissos Plastic Bag Free” project, representatives of Thalassa Foundation recently visited (April 2nd to 5th) the beautiful island of Alonissos in order to participate and help with the 3-day participatory actions organised by the Mediterranean SOS Network and the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (MOm).
The 3-day events started with an open discussion “Life without Plastic Bags”, where representatives of all stakeholders, i.e. municipal advisors, shopkeepers, consumers and hotel owners joined forces to present their ideas and discuss further steps to be taken. The people participating decided to form a Coordinating Committee consisting of all stakeholders’ groups and this decision is deemed of great importance as the sole purpose of the committee will be to deal with all the relevant issues, including informative and public awareness raising actions, finding of alternative solutions to plastic bags, and of course, coordinating all the necessary preparations in view of the coming summer, where tourists visiting Alonissos will be asked to follow the island’s residents best practices.
Next, came the schools. We started with the Primary School, on April 4th, where students, in groups of two grades at a time, watched and listened to the oral presentation delivered by specialized personnel of the Mediterranean SOS Network and, following that, made and hand painted their very own cotton bags, using their old t-shirts. On the next day, April 5th, it was time to engage junior and high school students. In two separate groups, students also watched and listened to the oral presentation and were then asked to work in groups to present their own ideas in the form of projects aiming at extending and deepening awareness of the local community. Their ideas were innovative, e.g. beach clean-ups, informative events for residents and tourists, thematic photo exhibitions, underwater clean-ups and they all reflected willpower and vigour. Children can and often will “show the way” to adults and are known to be a powerful lever for change.
The participatory actions were concluded during the same afternoon of April 5th, with an interactive seminar delivered to school teachers. Having familiarized themselves with the relevant educational material - they will now be able to encourage their students to work on similar group projects and in doing so, help keep the dangers of wasteful use of plastic bags vivid in their mind.