Widespread plastic pollution requires an effective response from EU regions to address ever growing environmental and health challenges. Plastic and other waste discarded by people is discharged into rivers and further into the Baltic Sea, then leaching to the coast afterwards. Most of the coastline is contaminated with plastic packaging, the degradation of which takes extremely long time. Proactive action is needed to reduce plastic waste.
Solutions include the elimination of single-use plastics and the introduction of eco-innovations, such as the promotion of biodegradable packaging. There is also a need to reduce the spread of plastic waste by changing public perceptions and attitudes towards packaging.
The campaign “My Sea” launched by the Environmental Education Foundation in 2012 is a successful example of reducing plastic waste in the coastal area. The campaign was launched to raise public awareness on the problem of marine pollutant waste. The campaign is periodically implemented in cooperation with a wide range of partners in Latvia and other countries – public administration institutions, municipalities, NGOs, as well as international institutions and research institutes. The last expedition took place in summer of 2018.
The campaign has gained recognition mainly through the annual Green Expedition, an initiative open to everyone interested, and full of educational activities addressed to a diverse public which take place along the entire 500-kilometer coastline of the Baltic Sea in Latvia. The public is further informed through the publication of the results of a campaign study on the situation of marine pollutant waste on the Latvian coast. Alongside these well-known activities, the campaign provides data analysis, advocacy and suggestions for future improvements in reducing marine pollution, in accordance with the UN Environmental Programme methodology.
The campaign aims to unite the whole Latvian society – citizens, municipalities, entrepreneurs – in a joint effort to protect the Latvian coastal area and the Baltic Sea.
The campaign addresses the Latvian public by informing coastal visitors about the sources of marine pollutant waste, especially plastics, and its impact on the fragile Baltic Sea ecosystem.
The campaign “My Sea” has been highly acclaimed nationally and internationally, receiving prestigious awards such as the Environmental Science Award (2012), the Latvian Society of Physicians Annual Health Award (2016), the Energy Globe Award Latvia (2017), and the International Baltic Sea Fund Award (2018).