Don't leave the watermelon rind on the beach

Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Portugal, Costa del Sol, Levante. With the relaxation of mobility restrictions and the summer that is already looming, beach destinations are once again among the favorite options for a getaway. He who has not left already has a friend who has and has told him about it. This partial return of tourism once again endangers the cleanliness of the sandy areas, which were rested during the strictest phases of confinement. Whatever our destination, massive beaches, dreamy coves or rocky coasts, it is convenient not to lose the land gained and enjoy leaving the minimum environmental footprint: just last year, about 4,800 kilos of waste were extracted from Spanish coasts and seas, according to the Libera project. Below, six bathers narrate their beach experiences and explain how they dealt with the different waste they generated.

Álex Rodríguez, a 33-year-old computer engineer, has traveled half the world in recent years. A great vacation plan strategist, water sports expert and a hound of airline deals, this Madrilenian raves about one of his latest destinations, the Blue Lagoon beach on the west coast of Cyprus, where he traveled the mix of adventure and tranquility that the place offered.

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“About nine in the morning we left the car in the parking lot located in Baños de Afrodita and walked for an hour and a quarter along the coast until we reached the beach. It’s a good route ”, he narrates. “Afterwards, there are small areas of sand that are difficult to access down a small cliff. That’s where I put my towel! ”.

In matters of civics, Rodríguez has everything under control. Apart from the towel and the snorkel goggles, he brought to the beach a container with cut watermelon, a banana, a sandwich, a CamelBak canteen with cold water and a glass jar of dried fruit. “I just had to take care of the banana peel [que tiene que tirarse al cubo de basura orgánica] and the sandwich wrapper, which by the way was a paper envelope [al contenedor azul] I reused the croissant from the day before, so I don’t use aluminum foil ”, he says.

Álex Rodríguez shows his canteen on one of his trips.

In the most remote beaches, such as the Blue Lagoon, it is difficult to find selective containers. At most there is a single bin for all waste. “As I do in the mountains, I always take the garbage to put it in the corresponding bins that are normally found in the city,” he continues. Veteran, gives a recommendation: “In these beach places there are usually exposed containers, that is, with the lid open. Make sure your trash doesn’t fly off later and end up in the sea. “

Rodríguez is saddened by the proliferation of beach trash. He has come across cans, straws, masks, and even toys. The podium of most frequent abandoned objects is shared by plastic pieces larger than 2.5 centimeters and cigarette butts, according to data from the Libera project, which on June 12 will hold a great national raid to remove waste that others ignored. . The Madrilenian is not one of those who swallows the myth that organic remains fertilize nature. The peeled watermelon was brought from home, without rind. “Just because it’s biodegradable doesn’t mean you can throw it away anywhere. Not only does it take a long time to decompose, but if we all did the same, the paradisiacal beaches would become a pile of accumulated shells. I call him bio-unpleasant”, Sentence.

With non-existent urban footprints around it and carved into the rock, La Rijana beach, an old anchorage and naval refuge, is located near the municipality of Gualchos, just an hour’s drive from Granada. Belén Díaz and her partner, doctors in their thirties, chose her to celebrate the end of the residency and disconnect from the city. “It is a small cove, made of rocks and it seemed to us that there would be fewer people,” they detail. “And it has vegetation. We found a tree that provides shade to read. If you don’t die of heat ”.

Sunset on the beach of La Rijana (Granada).
Sunset on the beach of La Rijana (Granada).JORGE FUENTES QUERO / Getty Images / iStockphoto

You have to travel about 200 meters from the car park on the N-340, the road that connects Almería and Malaga, to step on this peaceful sandy area, at least in this unusual May. “But access is easy,” reassures the couple. Álvarez declares herself very used to recycling. It belongs to that 83.5% of citizens who claim to separate all or almost all their waste on a daily basis, according to a study by the IPSOS consultancy for Ecoembes. They brought “the mythical” to La Rijana: books, cream, a bottle of water, a pot of potatoes and, for lunch, pastries, a kind of empanada of Moroccan origin. “We know that the plastic bottle and the bottle go yellow. We had no doubts ”, they affirm. But they missed more containers: they had to throw away the wrappers of the pastries [que deberían ir, si no están muy manchados, al cubo azul] to the only container on the beach, which served as normal garbage. “The rest, pot and bottle, we take home and recycle”, they finish.

During a week-long vacation, Álvaro Martín, a 32-year-old industrial engineer, traveled to Formentera with his partner and visited Ses Illetes beach, one of the most emblematic on the Balearic island and a cult stop for influencers. Remember its 450 meters of white sand as if they were a dream. “We found a very careful landscape. I would highlight the cleanliness of the waters and the environment. In addition, there were not many people due to the pandemic, “he says.

Photograph of the Balearic beach of Ses Illetes, belonging to the natural park of Las Salinas de Ibiza and Formentera.
Photograph of the Balearic beach of Ses Illetes, belonging to the natural park of Las Salinas de Ibiza and Formentera.Juergen Sack / Getty Images

Martín was looking for tranquility and exquisite sands. In Ses Illetes he ended up spending the whole day: he brought some cans of beer, bottles of water and a cooler to cool the liquids. To eat, some pasta salads in disposable aluminum containers [cuyo destino es el cubo amarillo] that you bought in a supermarket. “When traveling by plane you cannot carry so many things,” he argues with overwhelming logic. He put in a bag that brought each waste of the day. On this occasion, the beach was well equipped. “I had different bins and as soon as we ate we took the separate garbage there. Everything was well indicated ”, he recalls. Despite his faultless behavior, Martín criticizes himself on the field. “I don’t care where to dispose of the waste, but I’m not one of those who thinks about the environment all the time. From 0 to 10 I am a 7 ”.

To the south of the island of Gran Canaria is the Maspalomas beach, an enclave surrounded by hotel complexes and one of the most important tourist centers of the archipelago in the pre-ndemic world. To Juana Sánchez, 32 years old and an engineer in an aeronautical company, this gigantic sandy area seemed like a logistically simple destination to rest for a week. “I wanted peace of mind. With the pandemic, I didn’t want to expose myself a lot, “he says. “An antigen test was enough for me to travel and also a friend lived there.”

The Maspalomas dunes, a natural reserve of about 400 hectares located in the municipality of San Bartolomé (Las Palmas).
The Maspalomas dunes, a natural reserve of about 400 hectares located in the municipality of San Bartolomé (Las Palmas).getty images

During his stay on the island, Sánchez passed through the well-known dunes of Maspalomas and did not come across too many tourists. “I would recommend it because at this time it was more deserted and cleaner. Although I saw some things thrown away, yes, “he says. His garbage production was minimalist: just a few cigarette butts, a few beer cans, a few bags of potatoes and aluminum foil. Although she makes an effort, she admits to being dubious when it comes to recycling. “My eternal dilemma. Cans and glass yes, but then with potato bags and aluminum foil [ambos van en el cubo amarillo] I always have doubts ”, he analyzes. “Of course, the butts I take home.”

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