Why don’t we change, fix these bad things? And they decided to make a small contribution to save the planet…
It was Lefteris Arapakis’ first trip on a fishing boat, and he didn’t expect the net to pull him in. In the net, Lefteris not only caught pufferfish, grouper, and red herring, but also something else: a bright red can of Coca-Cola.
change your mind with a fishing net
Lefteris was still staring at the can, even after the other fisherman had taken the can from him and thrown it back into the sea. Arapakis recalls the person saying, “It’s not something we get paid for.”
Every day, thousands of fishermen aboard fishing boats in the Mediterranean pull countless old bottles, plastic wrap, flip-flops and other debris out of the water in their nets. And with each day that passes, those fishermen keep only what can bring them profit, the rest being thrown directly into the sea.
Seeing this horrifying sight, Arappakis, a Greek man, decided to convince the fishing industry that the disposal of plastic waste was definitely a matter as well.
In 2016, the young man founded a non-profit organization with a mission to clean up the ocean and educate about fishing, called Anelia—a Greek word-play reminiscent of sustainable fishing. One day when the boat returned from a mission to collect plastic waste, Arapakis couldn’t hide his excitement when he saw that the “trophies” were two large garbage bags full of plastic.
“If we don’t get to work, these things are going to be floating in the Mediterranean forever,” Arapakis said.
Whenever a fisherman brings trash ashore, Lefteris collects, recycles, and pays for it. Six years after organizing the operation, they have contracted more than half of Greece’s large fishing fleet, which includes hundreds of boats, to collect plastic waste every time they venture out to sea. And since then, the young man gradually had a desire to expand his project globally.
Arapakis’ family has been fishing for five generations. His father always hoped that he could continue the family tradition by giving him a part-time job in the summer washing boats and selling fish in the market. But Arapakis understands that he doesn’t want to spend his life swimming in a boat just to pull in fish, he wants to get plastic bottles and boxes out of the water, even though it may sound a bit strange to some. People.
In the beginning, it was not easy to persuade the fishermen to join Arapakis’ meaningful work, which required a lot of time and effort from the young man to meet them face-to-face in different places. Those who don’t always feel connected to environmental activists believe that those who want to rebuild a green planet are simply trying to take away their livelihood.
“Initially the fishermen made fun of us. They said we were not rag pickers,” Arapakis said. To gain their trust, he often begins by saying, “Maybe everyone knows my family. We fish in Piraeus.”
Since the size of the fishing industry in Greece is not very large, it is not difficult for him to recognize the prestige of his family. Usually, in order to gain the fishermen’s trust, Arapakis would have to join them in eating and drinking ouzo, Greece’s famous herbal wine, and then he chose to speak to them slowly.
In addition, each time he arrives at a new port, he also has to find a way to persuade the authorities to allow storage of plastic items that are no longer fit for use, and new routes to the facilities. have to find out. recycling facility.
return the blue to the ocean
After Arapakis expands his project across Greece and partly into Italy, the young man hopes to collect around 200 tonnes of plastic waste – enough to fill a football field. Gradually what he did attracted public attention. The United Nations Environment Program has awarded her the title of Young Earth Champion in 2020 – the highest environmental honor for people under the age of 30.
Now, Anelia, the organization founded by Arapakis, pays fishing crews a monthly sum for the plastic they collect — between $30 and $90 per crew member, depending on the amount of plastic waste. They bring Funding comes from the foundations that support the organization – mainly Greek groups, as well as international donors like Ocean Conservancy, Nestlé and Pfizer… People can recycle that waste material to make everything from backpacks and shoes.
Responding to The Washington Post, Lefteris said he plans to open his operations in other locations: Kenya is his closest destination, followed by Italy and the Republic of Cyprus. Another place they are eyeing is Egypt, where the Nile River carries large amounts of plastic waste directly into the Mediterranean Sea.
In Kenya and elsewhere, the Arapakis program has the potential to have a powerful impact, paying fishermen more than they catch fish so that they aim to collect plastic from the ocean. This will help restore fish numbers and each fisherman will bring back more plastic waste.
Arapakis understands that his efforts to clean up the ocean are small in the face of environmental issues and climate change, but at least this is still a way to bring back the ocean’s inherent purity.
But Arapakis also knew that despite Anelia’s efforts, this would not be enough to clear the Mediterranean. “Cleaning up the trash in the ocean is not the way to fix the problem, we need a change from the root, not just a solution to the top.” So Anelia has implemented several activities to raise awareness among fishermen, such as encouraging them to recycle old fishing nets instead of throwing them into the sea.
“I can’t change climate change entirely, but I can change the thoughts of my father and some of the people who worked with him on my plastic collection. Then we did. We spread our activities to other fishing communities in Greece. Will expand.” It is followed by Italy and the Mediterranean region,” shared the environmental activist.
Next time: You and I Contribute to Reducing Global Warming
As a cyclist, he was also embarrassed when he realized that he was consuming too much energy which was not conducive to protecting this green planet.
(Tagstotranslate) protect the planet