The initiative recommends using glass storage jars over plastic containers Photo: COTTONBRO/PEXELS

A Rocha and Saint Vincent’s Church tackle plastic pollution for ‘Plastic Free February’

Environmental association A Rocha and the Saint Vincent’s Anglican Chaplaincy in the Algarve are encouraging everyone to take part in their ‘Plastic Free February’ project, which aims to reduce the amount of plastic, especially single-use-plastic, that we use in our day-to-day life.

Say organisers, the goal is “not only to reduce the amount of plastic we use, but also to share both the difficulties and the solutions found to solve them”.

In other words, anyone can make their own contribution to the project by sending in a written article or a video (in Portuguese or English) to A Rocha about their experiences trying to reduce their use of plastic.

The plan is that, by the time the project is over, there will have been a successful brainstorming that resulted in real changes in the way those who took part handle their use of plastic, A Rocha’s environmental education coordinator Isabel Soares told the Resident.

“It was not that long ago that there were awareness campaigns trying to get people to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Now, that’s hardly an issue. It’s become a habit for most people. That is our goal, to make it a habit to reduce the amount of plastic we use,” she told us.

The issue of plastic pollution has become even more critical since the start of the pandemic, which has seen the use of disposable items such as gloves and masks increase significantly.

“Many times, these items end up being thrown to the ground, eventually making their way to the sea,” Soares explained, which makes projects like ‘Plastic Free February’ all the more important to remind people about the danger this poses to the environment.

As Tricia Wells from Saint Vincent’s Anglican Chaplaincy in the Algarve told us, “people need to be educated”.

“Plastic is used so widely but it is causing a massive problem. We all know we should use less, but now is the time to start doing it,” she said.

She explained that many involved in the project weighed the amount of plastic they used in January and will later compare it with the amount they use in February, a month during which they will make a conscious effort to reduce it to the bare minimum.

Meanwhile, her husband Chris Wells (congregation warden at Saint Vincent’s Church in Praia da Luz) called on younger generations to get involved, calling attention to studies that have shown there could be more plastic in the sea than fish by the year 2050.

“We need to have hundreds of thousands of people influencing government decisions. That’s the only way we’ll see change,” he told us.

Here’s a list of tips provided by A Rocha to get you started on your own ‘Plastic Free February’:

• Look carefully at labels, some personal products like body creams and gels are full of microplastics. Try to avoid them!

• Use your own cloth bag when buying your vegetables and bread. Nowadays you can buy vegetables without using a plastic bag.

• Avoid double packaging! Biscuits and cookies often come with double packaging. Avoid those!

• Try to buy a detergent that can clean windows, counters and ovens, instead of buying three different ones. Same goes for bathroom products.

• Every time you can, buy products in a glass bottle instead of a plastic one.

• Research online for other tips.

Send your articles or videos about the difficulties or solutions that you have faced or come up with whilst trying to reduce your use of plastic in day-to-day life to a Rocha.

+351 282 968 380 | portugal@arocha.org

By MICHAEL BRUXO
michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com