The European Outdoor Conservation Association (Eoca) has announced its new focus, entitled “Plastic Free: Mountain to Sea.” The organization will work with its members and the European outdoor industry to clean up plastic waste from outdoor habitats, from the summits of mountains to the shores of the seas, as well as to reduce the use of single-use plastics. These activities will be undertaken in conjunction with educating and inspiring outdoor enthusiasts to get involved in combating these issues. The headline target for Eoca's new focus is that the association and its members will collectively clear 3,000 kilometers of habitat, trail and beach of plastic waste and pollution over the next two years.
The spring 2019 round of projects funded by Eoca will support conservation charities to carry out waste clean-up projects internationally. Alongside Eoca's usual funding requirements, these projects will raise awareness of the issues related to plastic waste, train people to reduce their use of it, and work with local communities to address specific threats caused by plastic waste. Eoca will also coordinate a calendar of clean-up activities that companies are organizing themselves, and that might involve consumers as well. These events might include general beach cleans as well as clean-ups targeted at specific activities, such as mountain races, trails to climbing crags, or rivers and lakes used by paddle sports.
According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), more than 8 million tons of plastic leaks into the ocean each year, damaging marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism. This quantity is equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute, UNEP explains. Up to 80 percent of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic. Plastic pollution is also found on mountains, around crags, along and in rivers and lakes, in forests and on beaches, negatively impacting the habitat and landscape enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts.