Greek waste and other thoughts

I watch the slight elevation that stretches in front of me. On it, like a newly awakened snake, a path winds that disappears behind the highest point to which the view extends. At the top of the hill, there is nothing but the horizon. I am sitting in a deck chair hanging between two trees in the shade of conifers, my feet are in the sand, I am sipping coffee while I look at the blue that turns from turquoise to blue ink and I think what text to write. There are so many topics running through my head. Should we write about the sea and camping on the beach, plastic recycling on the island, about the bad condition we find wherever we are or the afforestation we are preparing for the fall? Maybe a little about everything?

For the second year in a row, it is dedicated to summer vacations on a volcanic island located in northern Aegean. We fell in love with the wide landscapes interspersed with harvested expanses of wheat, sprinkled with flocks of sheep, goats, and herds of cows, with a few donkeys or horses sunbathing in the hot Mediterranean sun. Aliki Salt Lake, visited by pink flamingos in winter; the only desert in Europe; volcanic rocks on Cape Faraklo, whose shape resembles troll houses or baklava, carefully arranged in a tray; the first urban settlement from prehistory – Poliohno; long sandy beaches with an endangered species of flower that can only be found on the island, Pancratium Maritimum; Sanctuary of Caviria; Iphestia amphitheater; a unique Alexandria Muscat grape variety and specialties such as rabbit and a local paste called Flomari; excellent goat cheese; a paradise for kite- surf enthusiasts in Keros Bay; villages that seem as if no one lives in them, but so picturesque; Fakos Peninsula, a habitat of wilderness and dusty paved roads leading to hidden beaches, where only those with a lack of comfort in their veins can reach… Limnos.

As we explored a map of the island last year and searched for a location to spend our pioneering month of camping in complete wilderness, we opted for the only beach on the island with enough natural shade. It turned out that THAT beach is one of the most beautiful on the island, in every sense. It is completely isolated from any civilization, in the very north-west of the island. The longest day, the most beautiful sunsets, the darkest night, and the brightest Milky Way or Moon. We don’t have electricity, we only get water for drinking. Washing, bathing, washing dishes, it all ends with ecological means and saltwater. In a word, a challenge.

Camping on the beach, we gained inspiration and an occasion to get rid of the clutches of everyday life and think, and most importantly, act. This year, to our great regret, we manage to visit it for only two weeks. But let’s not complain, that’s something too.

We came, set up camp, and, like last year, every day, after the morning swim, we go for a walk along the coast. Although we would like the most to walk on shallow water and enjoy the touch of wet sand between our fingers, that is not possible. We don’t feel good just because of one thing, and that is plastic.

There are two bars on the beach. A large part of the offer is subordinated to disposable plastic. We did not notice that anyone cared much about the consequences of the pollution. However, in a conversation with the owners, we found that they have no alternative because everything that is more environmentally friendly is inaccessible on the island itself and at the same time much more expensive when delivered from the mainland. If we start from the power supply, which is not brought to most of the beaches on the island and which is supplied with the help of oil generators (solar panels are very expensive, and the lease of the beach is renewed every three years through a tender); through water that is also not brought to most beaches and which is supplied with the help of canisters that are delivered by truck and in plastic balloons, to the removal of garbage that they take care of themselves and do not select it for recycling (this is done at the landfill in the recycling center), we conclude that we should not only blame the owners of the restaurant, but also the system itself, which, as in Serbia, obviously does not work in Greece either (here, we do not know what is worse).

And what about end-user responsibility with wild dumps that sprout like mushrooms (yes, yes, and in Greece, and a lot of them), with countless cigarette butts, straws, plastic bottle caps, wet wipes, and various plastic debris that remain buried deep in the sand? And then that unavoidable segment that has been criticized a lot, but there is no one to deal with it – fishing? Ropes, nets, floats, hooks, and everything else that goes along with fishing. Gives a headache. We even tried to motivate the owners of beach bars to do a beach cleaning action, in two places, on two different sides of the island. They were not in the mood to talk about it. It was a signal to us that no one cares about cultivating the natural good that belongs to everyone and for which we will, very soon, pay taxes.

What we as a family do is clean up. And so, every day on our walks on the beach or a tour, we pick up as much as we can fit in the bag we took or found. It takes the most time to collect small plastic parts that have disintegrated over time. Pieces of plastic that float out of the sand with a stronger Meltemi (east wind that blows on Limnos and for which it is also known to kitesurfers). All that plastic will never go away. It will decompose into microplastic and be sown on water and land, but it will never disappear. How many of us are aware of that? We have also noticed that we are becoming more and more nervous because of what remains here, uncleaned and forgotten.

But what to do… Life inevitably goes on, with or without plastic. We certainly can’t solve that issue in 100 years. But what we can do is have a positive attitude. That is why we have launched another initiative in a series that should raise awareness about preserving the natural habitat of all living beings. Namely, before going on vacation, we sent a letter to the Secretariat for Environmental Protection of the City of Belgrade intending to help us organize an action of cleaning and afforestation of one part of Umka in the fall. We received an answer from JP Srbijašume, where they told us with great pleasure that they would be happy to help us implement that intention. Thus, a few citizens will make this Planet, in another flash, a better place to live.

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