The Clean Up Iceland campaign officially launched yesterday with the beaching of a plastic sea monster.
The Icelandic Environment Association is behind the ocean clean-up campaign, called Hreinsum Ísland in Icelandic, which aims to raise awareness of the danger of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
The campaign was formally launched on the beach near Sjálandsskóli school in Garðabær, in the capital region. To mark the occasion, some of the school’s pupils paddled out in sea kayaks to retrieve and land a plastic ‘monster’—a poetic visual representation of the global problem.
Sjálandsskóli students have become known for publicizing the fight against ocean plastic and regularly clean the beach near their school, RÚV reported.
“Many maintain that Iceland is the purest country in the world. The air really is clean and the water is good but, despite that, every Icelander uses an average of 40 kilograms of plastic packaging every year,” an Environment Association statement says. “Yearly, 300 million tons of plastic are manufactured in the world (that’s 300 million elephants!). Only a small amount of this is recycled or re-used and the majority of it is either buried in the earth in landfill or ends in the sea. In Iceland, people used to say ‘lengi tekur sjórinn við’ (a saying intimating that the sea has a near-endless capacity to take whatever humans throw into it) but now it is even thought there could be more plastic than fish in the sea in 2050!”
While it is true that a smaller, pre-industrial society probably could throw its waste into the sea without repercussions, things have changed a lot.
Visitors to the Hreinsum Ísland website (Icelandic only) are encouraged to organize or take part in costal clean-ups, as well as commit to reduce their plastic consumption.