Raising Public Awareness about Plastic Debris at Sea

Press release appeared in Cyprus Mail, Friday 12th Oct., 2017.

Capturing children’s attention and imagination are key to educating the next generation of citizens. Currently, Cyprus generates among the highest per capita municipal waste among EU countries. Plastics make-up a large proportion of this waste hence sensitizing the youth about the fate of plastics is vital to lowering waste. A large amount of plastic debris unfortunately eventually finds its way to the sea.

Motivated by this need to alert the general public of the undesirable consequences of floating and immersed plastic, the Marine & Carbon Lab recently participated at the Researcher’s Night on Friday Sept. 29th, 2017. The event, organized by the Research Promotion Foundation, took place at the Cyprus State Fair at Nicosia. Displaying actual plastic debris recovered from Cypriot sea waters the “The Fate of Plastics at Sea” booth garnered much attention from attendees.

To help primary and secondary school pupils appreciate the problem of plastic debris, various items collected from the sea were presented at the booth. These comprised a rope, plastic bottles, plastic cups, and rusty metallic objects with attached marine organisms such as clams among else. Besides trash exhibits, with the screening of various videos the audience got a glimpse of the issue of plastic debris at sea and its detrimental effects to marine life and humans. Visitors were surprised to learn about the durability of plastic debris as well as their toxic nature. A poster featuring a surfer drifting in dirty waters littered with plastic debris also caught much attention.

The booth staffed by PhD student Ms Kyriaki Kylili and Dr Constatinos Hadjstassou, faculty member at the University of Nicosia, presented some of the efforts currently underway as part of the PLASTICMED research project to address the issue of plastics in the Mediterranean Sea. Following a competition, the “Fate of Plastics at Sea” booth was voted as the second most popular of the exhibition among 56 teams. With the help of the public, academic and EU efforts can hopefully make a real dent on plastics at sea while safeguarding marine life and tourism. More info about our research efforts can be found at: www.carbonlab.eu

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