A visit to where the Vathkias River flows into the sea – and the massive litter of plastic bags – prompted pupils from Limassol’s Neapolis Gymnasium to carry out a survey about the severity of the problem.
The project was carried out within the framework of the programme “Young journalists for the Environment”.
It included interviews with officials and led to the sad conclusion that the public is so used to seeing plastic bags everywhere, it is practically immune to the problem.
In Cyprus, some 665,000 plastic bags are used daily – one of the highest consumptions worldwide, while there are inadequate measures in place to manage the plastic mountain.
Pupils wrote that the beauty of the river is lost in a pile of plastic bags of all kinds and colours. “There are nylon bags in the bushes, in the trees, on the pebbles, even on the beach.”
They noted that nylon bags “dominate our daily lives, poisons every living organism and destroys the environment”.
The pupils also looked at the production, use and management of nylon bags. “We may need only one minute to produce a bag, but four whole centuries are needed for it to disappear from the environment which means that not a single plastic bag has disappeared yet.”
They also note that nylon bags lead to the death of thousands of fish, birds and mammals.
Of concern also is the fact that even bags advertised as eco-friendly are an invisible threat, according to Cyprus University of Technology lecturer and former Environment Commission Charalambos Theopemptou.
One of the questions raised was whether consumers were ready to accept changes so as to stem excessive use.
The survey showed that 56% said that if they had to pay for bags, they avoid doing so and instead bring them from home.
Supermarkets in Limassol appeared ready to charge for the bags, the pupils found.
“The state should press ahead immediately with the enactment of legislation and the imposition of appropriate controls,” the pupils demanded.
“A reduction is the use of plastic bags must become a way of life for each and everyone of us, and above all a sign of respect and responsibility for the environment and future generations.”