We need to start caring for our environment at an early age. Everything boils down to education. Ms. Elena Anastasiou, a kindergarten teacher in the sea-side town of Katakolo, Helia, knows this and showed "A Plastic Ocean" to her young students, organised for them to do a beach clean, and made a little video clip afterwards summarising everything they had learned.
If only everyone had such a teacher in their lives! THANK YOU!
We thank Yannis Varouhas who organised a very successful screening of the documentaries "A Plastic Ocean" and "Straws" in Argostoli. The event was open and free to all. The documentaries instigated a big discussion, led by local experts and concerned community leaders, with the public about plastic pollution, current recycling in Kefalonia, and what more can be done by citizens to confront this problem. In Mr. Varouhas' own words:
“The documentary screening, which took place at the “The Bee's Knees” bar in Argostoli last Monday, has incited great interest and mobilization of the local community about plastic pollution in the ocean. Yannis Varouhas’ presentation and Kostas Prentzas’ thought provoking speech were followed by two short documentaries ("A Plastic Ocean" and "Straws") grabbed the audience’s attention. The most valuable aspect of the evening was the subsequent open discussion; we consider this event to have been our most successful to date, as we had the opportunity to hear a lot of valuable opinions from our fellow citizens.
A pressing issue was brought to the surface, which we have repeatedly dealt with in the past: whether the Municipality of Kefalonia does indeed recycle properly. Despite the admittedly unconvincing answers that we have been publicly given by the municipal authority, our discussion revealed that there is a lot of mistrust among the citizens. We believe that all citizens should recycle, and at the same time all citizens have the right to know from the authorities how this is taking place.
It became clear to all of us that the destruction caused by marine pollution is almost irreversible. It is imperative that we stop burdening our oceans immediately so that there is enough time to eventually dispose of the plastic the oceans have been poisoned with. In the meantime, the efforts of individual citizens and collectives for voluntary cleaning during the winter months should not diminish; plastic should not find its way back into the ocean (our goal is to protect the sea, not to clean the island’s beaches just to attract tourists, as some people thought).
We have realised that our daily routines though small when considered separately, have terrifying results as a whole. That's why we have agreed amongst ourselves to ban single use plastic - plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic bottles and all disposable plastic that can be easily replaced by great and harmless alternatives! [...]
Our work on plastic pollution will not be limited to this intervention; we already have proposals from collectives that wish to repeat this intervention (in Lixouri for example) in other areas of the island. We are very optimistic and we will strive for change by joining forces with anyone who wishes to collaborate with us. Engaging everyone in society on the topic of plastic pollution is not a luxury but a necessity and obligation for us all. In the following link to our webpage you can find videos from the event as well as photos by Panagis Kavallieratos.”
It is truly wonderful to come across inspired teachers such as Ms. Mirsini Sougioultzi and Ms. Vicky Triferi who teach at the 1o Γυμνάσιο (1st Middle School) in Xanthi, northern Greece. After watching the documentary A PLASTIC OCEAN, they wanted to create a visual with her 8th grade students to better understand the current wastefulness of Greek society. To do this they used single-use plastic bags to make two Christmas trees, the first was made with 400 single-use plastic bags, which is the number of single-use plastic bags consumed per person (including children) in Greece in 2016 (as reported by IELKA), and the second Christmas tree was made using only 40 bags, which is the per person EU target for the year 2025.
A picture is worth a thousand words. We really hope the newly introduced tax on single-use plastic bags in supermarkets will dramatically reduce this wastefulness.
We would like to thank Ms Maria Sourgiadaki, a teacher at the 1st Vocational High School in Ierapetra, Crete who has shown A PLASTIC OCEAN to all her classes. After watching the documentary, some of her students decided to take action by making multi-use tote bags from old fabrics. You can see them below in action. Other students will be making a little advert explaining the harms of plastic which they will show to their entire school, and still others are busy making posters against plastic pollution.
Ms Sourgiadaki says: "The discussions after watching the documentary are very interesting, particularly the ones with the older teenagers. At first, they don't want to accept the problem. When provided with the hard facts about plastic pollution, and specific proposals for how to lead a less wasteful life, they are willing to listen and see the problem from a broader perspective, not just through their own personal experience / convenience. We, as teachers, parents and adults, need to constantly be giving the younger generation the right example. Change will happen. I don't expect my students to change their habits right away, but over time, and with constant reminders, they will".
We are so thankful for teachers like these!
We are delighted to share with you more details about the screening of A Plastic Ocean that took place on December 7th at the Europe Direct Office of Komotini, in northern Greece. Sofia Papadopoulou reached out to us to organise the event. After the screening she led the audience in a discussion of what they each could do to reduce plastic pollution. Ms Papadopoulou brought a multi-use tote, a reusable bottle and a stainless steel straw to show some simple solutions for a less wasteful lifestyle. She was surprised to see that many in the audience were not aware of how widespread the plastic pollution problem is.
It is of paramount importance to educate people about the harm of plastic pollution. Very few people would knowingly, or purposefully, throw away their garbage irresponsibly if they were fully aware of the consequences. Let's continue to spread the word. It would be amazing for mainstream TV in Greece to air such documentaries such as "A Plastic Ocean" to educate people of all ages.
THANK YOU for your efforts Ms Papadopoulou!
One amazing teacher, Mr. Kostas Sigoulakis, showed A PLASTIC OCEAN to all THREE of the schools he teaches at in Mani (Gytheio, Areopoli and Krokees). A total of 8 classes ranging from 6th grade through to 12th grade saw the documentary.
The screenings were followed by long discussions about plastic pollution - every age group showed to be highly concerned. We, at Plastic Free Greece, urge that all screenings are followed by an activity that helps to reduce plastic pollution, and we make suggestions such as the adoption of a zero-waste day, a conscious re-evaluation of one's habits, an appeal to local bars / restaurants to reduce plastic waste, etc. In this particular case, the students decided to organise a series of beach clean ups on Sunday mornings. The first beach clean up took place this past Sunday, December 3rd, on Gytheio Beach. The beach unfortunately looked like many untended beaches do all over Greece - lots of washed up plastic bottles, plastic lids, plastic bags, a few glass bottles.
THANK YOU for so enthusiastically embracing this cause and making all your students feel part of the solution. Cleaning up beaches is one definite way to reduce plastic waste from entering our oceans and leading by example is the best way to transmit this message to the broader community.
When we launched our Plastic Free Greece initiative, Hara Stavrianopoulou, a civil engineer, was one of the first to say she wanted to organise a screening of A PLASTIC OCEAN at a community centre in Kalamata. To introduce the film and how relevant the topic is to their sea-side city, she and the other volunteers who helped organise the event, showed pictures of plastic that had washed up on Kalamata beach and they placed pieces of plastic trash on the seats to welcome every person in the audience. The discussion following the screening was enriched by Yana Volkova, a Ukrainian architect-activist who runs a "Trash Art" class at the centre, transforming trash into art, and Yann Louault, a French national who works in biotechnology and has studied marine plastic pollution. The other volunteers who helped organise the event are Fotini Arapi, Sophia Kostea, Evi Chronopoulou, Sophia Konstantinea and Giannis Petropoulos.
The audience, which included some teachers of local schools, resolved to organise more screenings at schools in the Kalamata area and to organise simultaneous beach cleanups to coincide with Aegean Rebreath's underwater cleanup of Kalamata Bay on December 2-3. If you are in Kalamata on those days, please join them!
The first screening of A PLASTIC OCEAN (with Greek subtitles) took place this week in Volos. 50 students aged 9 - 15 watched the 22 minute documentary with great interest. The educator and organiser of the event, Eleni Sofogianni, describes the reaction of her students and the actions they are planning to take given what they learned:
"We [the teachers] watched the documentary a few times before deciding how to introduce the topic to our students. We decided to show them pictures of animals trapped in plastic garbage. I couldn't have imagined how angry the children would become when they saw these images. We spoke about plastic garbage using the facts from the activity book you sent us. Finally, they watched the documentary. All the students, regardless of age group, were engaged throughout the screening.
We won't stop here. This is just the beginning. We decided to recycle all plastic waste at our school. We decided that this coming Saturday, November 11, will be a zero-plastic waste day and we will repeat it as often as possible. We will make posters and put them up around our school to remind us of everything we learned this week."