Malta Independent

The cost of ignorance

A whole nation was devastated seeing the dead leatherbac­k turtle being lifted from the sea in Gozo.


Camilla Appelgren is an Environmen­talist

Everyone raised their voice out of concern, claiming they’ve had enough. The littering was highlighte­d as the main issue and voices saying that we as a nation had failed, very true.

Something was left out though, the full reason why this turtle died. Littering is not the only reason why plastic ends up in the sea. Bad waste collection procedures with leakage from trucks, landfills with plastics flying around and the overproduc­tion and use of single use plastic are the other areas of concern in Malta and worldwide.

Why do we always think that it’s enough that we recycle more and make sure to not litter, and that small items don’t count? Well, in Malta we have a severe lack of understand­ing that one small item being incorrectl­y disposed of will make part of a bigger issue if all do the same. The saying “It’s just one” has to be scrapped, not tomorrow but now. It is never “just one”.

So what happened just a couple of days after the dead leatherbac­k turtle was lifted from the sea and also after I highlighte­d the massive amount of invisible small pieces of plastic floating just below surface? Two councils in Malta throw a feast with plastic confetti going straight into the sea and also releasing balloons. Long gone are the images of the dead turtle. Totally forgotten is the image of the plastic soup in the sea. Our sea, the sea our children will rely on for survival going forward when we are no longer here to protect them. Have we gone totally mad?

No words can describe how upset I felt this morning seeing the news of the plastic litter and balloons going straight for the sea. More so, my anger increased seeing the response from one of the councils claiming it is all under control since the contractor will clean it up during early morning hours. No one replied to my request if the mentioned contractor had scuba gear to clean up the sea as well. Do you know why I didn’t get a reply to that question? Because no one is actually cleaning up the sea. What we don’t see, doesn’t exist, as easy as that right? It didn’t make it better hearing from a Mayor that, “I do not know if you ever clean your home. Even if it is closed, dust will come in,” and at the same time claiming 100% understand­ing of the issue.

We had the same issue in Gzira council some time ago, the same day the mayor took a strong stand against it in a statement claiming he would make sure plastic confetti was never used again. He also sent extra staff of his own to clean up and recover as much plastic from the sea as they possibly could. I would like to officially thank the Mayor of Gzira, Mr Conrad Borg Manché for that action and stand taking.

Before summer I, as the founder of Malta Clean Up, sent a document to the Local Council Associatio­n regarding my wish for them to take a pledge to actively work with me in raising awareness about the harm of balloon releases. I asked them to take a stand against the releases and presented all the harm the balloons do, biodegrada­ble or not. I got to know that some councils actually aren’t willing to sign this. My question is why? How can we, at a time of endless awareness, not understand the harm of this action? How can we as a community on one hand cry for the marine life being executed due to our fun time and then not want to take action and solve it? It is time for us to stop this wave of ignorance.

I challenge all councils to sign the pledge regarding taking a stand against balloon releases. I also wish for the government of Malta urgently ban the plastic confetti to be used during feasts. Use paper! The law is clear, littering is forbidden and the few cases where events are allowed to litter, they have to assign a contractor to clean it up for the environmen­t not to suffer the consequenc­es. Does the one approving these events not look at what material will be used for the confetti and take into considerat­ion to chance of it flying into the sea? If that is the case, we have a very serious issue that needs to be addressed today.

This is no joke, there is no “mhux xorta” and no “live and let live”. We are trying to live, but with a dying sea it is indeed getting harder and harder to survive. We are biting the hand that feeds us.

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 ??  ?? The Malta Independen­t Tuesday 21 August 2018
The Malta Independen­t Tuesday 21 August 2018

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