A day at the beach is undoubtedly good for our wellbeing, and there are plenty of fabulous ones to choose from in Ibiza. But it’s important to remember that our coastal environment is also both sensitive and precious, and needs to be protected in the same way as we would our own health. Smoking at the beach is a prime example of something that is harmful on both fronts. Sadly, many smokers appear to view the sand as their personal ashtray. As well as containing microplastics, cigarette butts are also filled with toxic chemicals that leach into the sea as they degrade, killing local marine life.
Suncreams also tend to contain compounds that can cause harm to the local ecosystem. A recent study found concentrations of sunscreen chemicals accumulating in Posidonia oceanica, a key local plant responsible for absorbing large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and producing much of the oxygen that oxygenates the sea.
One of the biggest threats both to our own health and that of our environment is, of course, plastic. Once it enters the sea it breaks down into microplastic particles, which are ingested by marine animals and then enter the food chain, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Plastic ends up in the sea through a combination of littering, poor recycling practices, and by being washed down drains, such as in the cases of microfibres from washing clothes or microbeads from shower gels.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Cigarette filters are made of plastic fibres called cellulose acetate, which can take a decade to decompose. They contain harmful compounds such as arsenic, formaldehyde, ammonia, and heavy metals.
- One cigarette butt can pollute up to 500 litres of water.
- A 2010-2015 study found 4.5 million microplastic particles per km2 in San Antonio Bay.
- According to Australian scientists, we could all be ingesting up to 5 grams of microplastic particles – the equivalent of a credit card – every week.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- If you’re a smoker, place your cigarette butts in a suitable receptacle and dispose of them in a bin away from the beach.
- As disposable vapes contain a battery, they should not be recycled or placed in the grey bin but instead be disposed of in a punto limpio or deixalleria, or back at a shop that sells them.
- Choose an eco-friendly, chemical-free sunscreen brand.
- Reduce plastic: choose drinks in glass or cans, and use a refillable water bottle where possible; refuse straws; take reusable bags to the shops; buy loose instead of pre-packaged fruit and veg.
- Always clean up after yourself and take your litter away from the beach with you, and always recycle correctly.