Thousands of people equipped with trash bags and disposable gloves joined an effort on Friday dubbed as Israel’s biggest beach clean up, hoping to not only clear the shores, but also draw policymakers’ attention to the need to better protect marine life.
Organizers estimated that between three and five tons of garbage would be collected by volunteers on Israel’s Mediterranean coast and at the Sea of Galilee throughout the course of the day.
Volunteers were not only on the beach — some were on boats and diving teams also participated in the effort.
Some eight million tons of plastic are thrown into the sea worldwide each year.
Nearly three-quarters of the trash found in Israeli waters in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea consists of bits of plastic bags and plastic containers, according to the National Marine Waste Monitoring Report for 2019, published on October 14.
The situation is expected to be worse in 2020, with the addition of disposable masks and gloves as a result of the pandemic.
Taking part in the Friday clean up were the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Environmental Protection Ministry, Life and Environment, Green Course, Zalul, EcoOcean, the scouts movement, European Union representatives, teams from a number of embassies, divers groups and local authorities.
An SPNI spokesman said the campaign sought to influence decision-makers to establish more marine reserves, ban single-use plastic at beaches and increase enforcement and against litterbugs.