We have just berthed for 3 nights at the absolutely beautiful Sani Marina and Resort on the Kassandra Peninsula in northern Greece. It is by far and away the most luxurious marina we have ever stayed in and the adjoining hotels, restaurants and facilities are absolutely world class. It is a remarkable development and one that is well worth visiting if you are in the area and feel like splurging on a little luxury.
As we begin preparing to leave Lady Roslyn for 6 weeks, I did feel a little as though I was the only one with silicone sealer and a spanner in my hand while everyone else was wearing Gucci & Prada.
Running northwards from the edge of the resort is beautiful Bousoulas beach, a 4 kilometre long stretch of soft white sand. It is easily the longest stretch of white sand beach I have seen in anywhere in Greece. On one side is the turquoise water of the Aegean and on the other side, the beautiful forest and Sani Wetland, which is home to over 200 species of birds, some of which are rare and endangered.
It was such a beautiful day that I decided to go for a run along the beach. Once you are past the beach bar and umbrellas which are located at the one end of the beach, there is only white sand stretching in front of you as far as the eye can see.
Because the sand at the waters edge was a bit soft in places, making the going challenging, I found myself zig-zagging back and forth across the beach, alternating between the waters edge and the low dunes, looking for firmness underfoot. That's when I began noticing plastic bottle caps dotted along my path, scattered like pebbles by Hansel, from the Brothers Grimm fairytale Hansel & Gretel.
At the far end of the beach where I stopped to catch my breath, I turned around and saw a bottle cap at my feet. I bent down to pick it up and put it in the back pocket of my running shorts and that moment was the end of my run and the beginning of my "quest".
I started picking up the caps as I walked. Within metres my pocket was full so I took off my running cap and started filling it with the caps. I looked up and knowing that the resort was 4 kilometres away, wondered how many caps I could pick up on the return leg. I thought to myself "Imagine if you end up picking up 400 caps along this beach. That will be incredible and horrendous".
Very soon my running cap and pocket were full and I had nothing else to carry all the caps in, so I took off my running shirt and tied a knot in the arms and neck to make a bag. I transferred all the plastic caps into my new "bag" and put my hat back on.
It took me over 2 hours to meander back and forth along the beach from waters edge to the dunes and the shirt "bag" kept getting fuller.
By the time I reached the umbrellas at the end of the beach, my back was breaking from bending over and my heart was aching for the planet. We humans have chosen convenience over our conscience and huge companies like Coca-Cola have placed profits before the planet.
I thought it amazingly ironic that the 500th cap that I picked up was a red Coca-Cola lid which I popped into my back pocket to remind me who needs to be held accountable for this environmental travesty.
With the world facing a diabetes epidemic it is no wonder that Coca-Cola is branching out and aggressively producing and promoting bottled water under the Dasani and other brand names. All the blue caps in the images below, which make up by far and away the majority of caps found here and in all the other trash pick-ups we do, are from bottled water and many of those are Dasani caps. Coca-Cola is the GIANT elephant in the room. If they are forced or persuaded to do something to find solutions to this mess, all the other smaller producers will also fall in line. It's no longer good enough to hide behind the mantra that it is "The consumer's responsibility to dispose of the plastic once purchased". Of course, consumers must take responsibility for their actions, but the planet can no longer stand the promotion of rampant consumerism and convenience without holding the profit makers to account.
So, how many plastic bottle caps did I pick up in the end?
Let that number sink in. One randomly chosen beautiful beach in a corner of Greece, with 1 cap lying on it for every 5 steps taken. 668 times I bent over to pick up a cap. 668 people who chose to throw away a bottle or the cap from that bottle without thinking. 668 pieces of plastic which could easily end up in a bird's stomach.
But, 668 plastic bottle caps no longer on that beach.
I do, at least, take heart from knowing that.