Greek environmental group All for Blue, which has been active for over a decade, has removed 32 tons of waste from the bottom of the Cyclades islands since 2018, says founder Katerina Topouzoglou.
Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Topouzoglou says that All for Blue is based on volunteer work that has been active in Greece and abroad.
“I founded this organization to make a difference in terms of the protection of the marine ecosystem,” she says.
Topouzoglou was an underwater shooting champion and free diving athlete, having a love for the sea from a very young age. For the past 10 years, through the All for Blue group, she organizes a series of actions to protect the marine ecosystem.
In the context of actions for the Circular Economy, the plastics collected from the actions of the organization, go through special processing and are transformed into structural recycled material for many uses.
Greek environmental group All for Blue also educates communities
One of the uses is the garbage bins that were built for the school classrooms in the Cyclades. An action that was warmly embraced not only by the schools, but also by the whole local community, Topouzoglou says.
Speaking about the work of the team, she says that so far they have conducted training seminars for over 55,000 students and removed more than 220 tons of waste in underwater and coastal cleaning activities.
“At All for Blue we have created 20 groups/nuclei of students in different places in Greece and abroad where they continue our activities. The largest is that of Kalymnos where it consists of students – swimmers where together with their coach they carry out systematic actions of underwater and coastal cleaning,” she says.
Topouzoglou says that “the most recent mission of our volunteers was on Kinaros where, in addition to cleaning, we transported supplies and medicines to the only resident of the island, Mrs. Rini, who is a close friend of the organization.”
Greece moves to reduce plastic use
Environmentalists in Greece hope that waste in the seas will reduce dramatically after the country banned a variety of single-use plastics in July.
Ten types of single-use plastic products are banned in Greece under the move. This list includes cutlery, plates, straws, styrofoam containers and cups, beverage stirrers, and cotton swabs, as well as all types of products that decompose into microplastics.
The aim of these bans is to reduce consumption of single-use plastic cup and food containers. The government has set out two main goals of reducing usage by 30% by the year 2024 and by 60% by the year 2026.
There is also a plan to decrease the use of plastic water bottles by 2024.
Of course, the ban does not mean that Greeks won’t have access to convenient and on-the-go cutlery and straws; instead, the ban is likely to cause companies to innovate and come up with more environmentally sound solutions.
These could take the form of paper straws and plates or even biodegradable plastic-style alternatives.