Plastic-free Ibiza and Formentera is a movement that saw the light in 2018, promoted by the Foundation for the Conservation of Ibiza and Formentera. It brings together more than 20 non-profit local organisations and its mission is to conserve and preserve the environment of the island of Ibiza, focusing on the serious problems posed by plastic pollution.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your training and how you reached the project.
When I look back, I realise that now I could never do anything else. When I was in high school, my school was chosen to do a 3-year pilot course about environmental education. This experience that left a mark on me for the rest of my life. When I was a teenager, I signed my first Greenpeace petition against French nuclear tests and started to support them as a partner. When I finished my degree at the University of Athens, I felt that something was missing. Hence, I decided to continue my postgraduate studies and I did a Master in the Environment, Development and International Policy at the University of Sussex in England. When I completed my education, I started to look for work in environmental organisations in London, and as luck, the universe, or whatever would have it, I ended up in Greenpeace’s London offices. I had different jobs here: I started out as a volunteer and activist, then as a campaign assistant and campaign manager in Athens. Finally, I was appointed international and European coordinator of Greenpeace International in Amsterdam. I must say that Greenpeace has been like a big school for my life in all regards. When life took me to Ibiza 9 years ago, I immediately wanted to get to know more about the local NGOs and offer my experience as an environmental consultant. The first project I participated in was the campaign against oil exploration in 2013 by the Alianza Mar Blava. Last year, when I found out that the Foundation for the Conservation of Ibiza and Formentera was looking for someone to coordinate the anti-plastic movement, I did not hesitate to offer my time for this marvellous project.
Who else is behind this project?
There are two coordinators, Mikel Gabarain and myself, in Ibiza and Formentera, and we have had the good fortune to be able to count on the experience and the expertise of several NGOs and volunteers on both of these islands to implement the campaigns. Every day we see how the issue of plastic pollution affects many people who want to become involved in one way or another.
How do you work and what are your ongoing projects?
From the outset, the Foundation for the Conservation of Ibiza and Formentera held numerous meetings that helped to create and consolidate the group of organisations that now make up the Ibiza and Formentera Plastic-Free movement. We continue to hold plenary meetings every month and have also created small task forces in different areas. We always strive to take unanimous or consensus-based decisions.
Our work is based on 2 underpinning axes: awareness-raising and the participation of the general public, working with companies that dispose of single-use plastics. Public [AB1] awareness-raising is conducted by means of different events. For example, we have organised screenings of documentaries about plastic pollution in the islands of our members (Cleanwave and GENGob Ibiza), beach-cleaning, informative events in supermarkets and participation at public and private events and fiestas, helping them to dispose of plastic.
This May we launched our new Plastic-free Certification for Companies campaign with the “Have you got your star?” slogan, inviting all the leading HORECA companies in Ibiza and Formentera to join and co-create plastic-free islands by 2023. To get the certificate, companies must fulfil 2 commitments: stop using at least 3 disposable plastic products in the first year and come up with a time-line scheduling the reduction and elimination of disposable plastics by them over a 5-year time-frame (2023). This certification will be reviewed every year. The certificate, which involves a simpler process for implementation in this first year, rates the companies that make the move towards a plastic-free future in 3 categories: 1 star: eliminate 3 disposable plastic articles. 2 stars: eliminate 50% of their disposable plastic articles. 3 stars: eliminate 100% of their disposable plastic articles.
The initial response from the business community in Ibiza and Formentera, was very positive. In the course of the first month, more than 80 companies in Ibiza and Formentera responded to our initiative, rising to the challenge of beginning to eliminate and reduce disposable plastics in order to protect the island’s environment. We regard this first year as a pilot project. We want to accompany these companies in order to enable them to operate without disposable plastics and help them to identify all the possible challenges they may encounter when making this change. Together, we can seek out the best solutions and alternatives to reduce our plastic footprint to maintain the idyllic natural beauty of Ibiza. We have seen that the business fabric has been very predisposed and awareness has been heightened Many companies have taken on a commitment to stop using disposable plastic beyond the obligations of the new waste law of the Balearic Government, thus initiating a major process of change.
Something to read: No More Plastic. What you can do to make a difference, by Martin Dorey.
An image, memory or sensation that you relate to the Balearics: dreaming and flying, gazing at the sea from different cliffs in Ibiza, such as las Puertas de Cielo, Es Cubells, the tower of Savinar opposite the islets of Es Vedrà.
A marine species: the Dolphin
A reference organisation or person: Greenpeace.
A beach: S’Illot des Renclí.
A phrase that defines you: “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world”. Joel A. Barker.
Optimistic, realistic or pessimistic? Always optimistic. To create a better world for our children and our planet, we must believe that change is possible.