October 2018, by Sandra Vlašić
Seven teams and seven ideas, no there is no Snow White and the seven dwarfs, but there are seven mentors and two days of our bootcamp at Stablo znanja. They are all focused on the same challenge – how to stop the flow of plastic waste into the Adriatic? The same idea guides us all – we do not want a plastic sea nor the sea of plastic! In the end – there are six jury members and three awards for the best, a big KUDOS for everybody and my heart big as a Blue Whale!
The island Zlarin as a pilot-case for the others
The team that will help the island Zlarin to become the first example of a small island in the Adriatic without single-use plastics won the Adriatic Plastic Challenge contest. The team starts in a few months and continues what they have already started last summer, when they organised one evening event with Darko Rundek concert and brodetto-cooking contest with no single-use plastics involved in serving food and drinks. They’ve organised as well a public open-air screening of A Plastic Ocean documentary and a workshop on simple ways how we can avoid single-use plastics, which, as its name says – we use only once, for a very short period of time and we throw it away as waste, which takes hundreds of years to degrade, never entirely.
The change on Zlarin will not happen overnight and it won’t be easy, but the team is not on their own. They have support of the local municipality and local tourist association as well as they will have assistance of the organisations Terra Hub and Zona. The cash award by Volvo Car Adria will help them too, and so will the mentors from IBM-a Hrvatska, LeanStartupCroatia, Impact Hub-a Zagreb, other teams and bootcampers, members of the jury from the Swedish Embassy in Croatia, Volvo company, Ruđer Bošković Institute, the Blue World Institute, Agency 404 and Fox/National Geographic Channel. We all do want the same thing – to reduce the single-use plastics when and where it is possible. And it is possible!
Incentives for changing habits to the better – the power of points
The second-best team was Plastic Adriatic who developed a concept – an App that will work like collecting points in consumers loyalty programmes. One win points each time a consumer does not take a plastic bag. It will be possible to exchange collected points for various benefits or use them as a donation for a beach or seabed clean-up action. Or maybe to adopt a dolphin? The retailers and shops could also collect points each time they do not give-away a plastic bag and plastic packaging. Retailers would stimulate instead their customers to use bags and packaging made of non-plastic materials that can be used many times instead of throwing away and creating problems once they are not needed anymore. In that way the retailers would build a new, greener picture about themselves and show the responsibility towards people and nature.
We, the consumers, appreciate „good companies“– the more demand we create, there will be more responsible non-plastic retailers and offers and the prices of alternative non-plastic solutions will be lower. Not so long ago the „green shelf“ with natural, organic or healthier products in a big drugstore was barely one meter long. There was only one shop with the organic products in Zagreb, the prices were rather high, and we had to thought twice before we decided what to buy. And then it started… Now the „green shelfs“ are whole store departments, there are many more stores offering organic products or no-packing system of shopping, the difference in price is lower. That is how it goes. We, the consumers must demand for a change and the change will come.
The third best team was Micro2F. What is it? It is a microplastics filter. It is in a prototype stage, very early stage, but no matter microplastics is tiny, it creates huge problems and that is why this filter matters a lot. Each trial, each prototype matters, one must work out – maybe it will be this one right from our Challenge contest! You can even apply to be amongst the first testers of beta-version of the prototype.
Microplastics has been detected in more than 80% of drinking water samples. We use water to cook, we use it in growing food, our body cells content is made of more than 70% of water… You get it now? With water, microplastics enters our body, it brings with pathogens, viruses, heavy metals and has a negative impact to our health. In the eighties, a popular band VIS Idoli sang: „…I wear a plastic suit, plastic is my food, I may be plastic too…“ The song is great but it is becoming reality which scares me! I do not want to be plastic, I want to be healthy.
Guardians of the Sea set on EcoTron and went to a Green Sea Safari, waving on their way out „So long plastics “
The other four teams that haven’t won the awards have equally interesting ideas and I’m quite sure they will make them out: The EcoThron team created a unique spot for separated waste collection, advertising and cabin that is at the same time a composting toilet, which can be installed at places such as beaches, sport fields, outdoor festivals. The Guardians of the Sea has a children storybook, a fairy-tale by Kristijan Jerković with wonderful illustrations by Sara Gortan. The storybook engages children and their parents into the sea world, the plastic pollution problems and gives advice what they can do to help a little siren and an old fisherman to save the sea. They’ve already done Kontići – Guardians of the Forest storybook, a small theatre, performances and educational workshops where children and parents have fun and raise passion, love, care and knowledge about nature, our home. The team from Dubrovnik already takes tourists for a Green Sea Safari where they clean inlets of beautiful Elafiti islands, but also where they learn about natural values of Adriatic islands and get back home filled with satisfaction they have done something good. Their next step would be recycling of collected plastic waste into souvenirs and other useful items.
In the end „So long Plastics“ or Pa-Pa Plastika, as we say in Croatian. This is a project of social entrepreneurship company Brodoto that works on developing, communicating and supporting projects with high social impact. Brodoto wants to develop a new brand and to provide an alternative to single-use plastic items used on music festivals and events.
APC is a platform for collaboration – come on board and sail with us!
This was just a beginning. Adriatic Plastic Challenge has set up a platform for collaboration, plug-in, work with us on new innovative solutions and on addressing new challenges. What matters is that we do it together. The collaboration of engineers, scientists, designers, marketing gurus, writers, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, IT-geeks, media – our differences united around finding solutions to the same challenge are what matters. This is the only way to solve threats like climate change and plastics in the oceans. That is the purpose of an innovation challenge like this one.
Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse (lat.) said Pompeius more than two thousand years ago to the sailors in ancient Rome. We like what he meant – sailing is more important than life, just because sometimes only due to sailing, the life continues. Thus, we are sailing together with ideas to beat plastic pollution of the seas, so it wouldn’t happen to end up in a plastic sea where there is no much life left.