Tour Operators and local volunteers celebrate World Environment Day with huge 2-site Litter Pick

600kg of waste collected in just 45 minutes as 100 volunteers cover a 2km stretch of road and the sand dunes of Maspalomas

All Photos Credit: Edward Timon, The Canary News - World Environment Day Celebration 2018

World Environment Day has been celebrated around the world every year on the 5th June since 1974. It is the United Nation’s most important day for raising global awareness and encouraging the general public to do something positive that can help the planet. Every year there is a different theme, and for 2018 the theme is ‘beating plastic pollution’.

Thanks to documentaries like Blue Planet and A Plastic Ocean, we all know that plastics are causing a major problem in the world’s oceans as some 8 million tonnes of plastic enter marine environments each year causing great harm to wildlife before degrading.

Plastic is a problem, yet we are producing more and more of it. Nearly 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, half of which is destined for single-use. It is estimated that by 2021 the world’s population will use almost half a trillion plastic bottles each year and whilst tourism certainly contributes to this, there is also great scope for the industry to be part of the solution.

Photo Credit: Edward Timon, The Canary News

Whilst the key to reducing plastic pollution is to reduce it at the source, beach cleans and litter picks are still hugely valuable to removing litter from natural environments and disposing of it properly at centres that are equipped to deal with it.

This was the focus of the representatives and management teams from Thomas Cook and TUI who joined Travel Without Plastic, Oceans4Life, Clean Gran Canaria and Adiós Plástico for a huge litter pick across two sites in Maspalomas on Wednesday 6th June, covering the 2km between the Punto Limpio and Aqualand and a section of the island's famous sand dunes.

At first glance it might not seem like there is a lot of litter along the roadside, but as you pay more attention it’s clear that it’s full of plastic bottles, cans and other items that are presumably discarded from passing motorists’

100 people split into 3 teams and armed with litter pickers, gloves and a huge amount of enthusiasm set about a 'speed clean' collecting approximately 600kg of waste in just 45 minutes (not including the random shopping trolley, car tyre or enormous dog crate!)

Thanks to Nikki and Sonia at TUI, we were able to equip volunteer teams with a litter tracker so that every item picked up could be recorded, counting it all up at the end of the pick revealed a whopping 5,234 individual waste items. Breaking down the teams collected

  • 2,715 pieces of plastic

  • 1,205 pieces of paper or cardboard

  • 960 cigarette butts

  • 150 items of glass

  • 94 cans

  • 84 pieces of packaging

  • 17 personal hygiene items

  • 6 pieces of styrofoam

  • 5 full bags of organic waste

  • 3 items of fishing gear

  • A shopping trolley, a car tyre and an enormous pet carrier (we think) and a bin lid

Teams were targeted to collect specific types of waste meaning it could easily be disposed of by the lovely gentlemen of Urbaser, the company responsible for the recycling site in Maspalomas who had kindly agreed for us to descend upon them en masse at the end of the pick.

Photo Credit: Edward Timon, The Canary