Since 1988, Chris Dews, the founder and president of ‘Ibiza Limpia’ has been cleaning up beaches and natural areas in Ibiza.
Even before arriving on the island in 1985, Chris had begun his beach cleaning activities in Northern England and had been very disturbed by garbage in the environment since a very early age, constantly asking polluters to pick up their garbage and making a personal effort to keep the places he visited clean and tidy.
The island of Ibiza has many beautiful coastal areas we all love to enjoy, but there are also hundreds of kilometers of country roads, wooded areas and other potentially beautiful natural spaces which are being constantly degraded by careless people who leave trash everywhere they go and seem to have no respect for their local environment.
Having founded the local branch of Friends Of the Earth in July 1989, and with a specific aim to help reduce the indiscriminate dumping of waste into Ibiza’s beautiful but fragile nature, Chris and many volunteers from all over the world cleaned a total of 32 beaches in the first year of activity. He finally went on to create a movement called Ibiza Limpia in 2011, dedicated to raising awareness about the island’s litter problem and persuade many others to follow his example in helping to keep Ibiza clean and beautiful.
Organising many weekly clean-up operations and joining in similar activities from other island conservation groups gave Ibiza Limpia team members the opportunity to learn a great deal about the global litter problem and how to deal with it on a local scale.
The basic idea proposed by Ibiza Limpia, is that apart from persuading others not to leave their garbage in the countryside or on beaches, they could also help to educate small local groups to keep their particular part of the island clean and therefore enjoy the results of their work.
For example, Casita Verde and friends manage to keep around 20km of country roads near the centre clean and free from unsightly garbage. This is a constant and seemingly endless job, but of course they get a huge benefit from being able to walk, ride or drive along clean roads while travelling to and from their home.
They also make a big effort to clean up any coastal areas that they habitually visit on days out, so it becomes a story of ‘Where we go, we clean’, and this has been their ‘slogan’ for a few years already.
These days, there are many different groups of active residents (as well as visitors), helping to keep our islands clean and free from garbage, but we still need to do more, as the problem is still there to deal with.
Hopefully, as consciousness begins to rise among the local population, things will improve over time and it will become a very normal sight to witness people taking more garbage from natural places than they are leaving there!
Each year since 2017, Ibiza Limpia, together with a growing number of other organisations, joins many millions of other conscious global citizens in celebrating ‘World Clean Up Day’ (https://www.worldcleanupday.org). This was originally started during 2010 in Estonia, where 50,000 people turned out to clean up the whole country in just 5 hours. Since then it has spread around the world and in 2020 involved more than 11 million people in a total of 164 countries.
Since last year, members of Ibiza Limpia are working with an innovative London based organisation called ‘Orca Sound Project’ (https://www.orcasoundproject.com), who have invented a very attractive plastic board, made from around 70 different types of plastic waste which would normally end up in landfill or be burned in an incinerator to make electricity.
The original plan for Ibiza was to make the main performance stage for the 2020 International Music Summit, due to be performed in Ibiza during May, but this was later cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.
New plans are now being discussed with the local island council to incorporate some of these boards in the entrance to Ibiza airport, together with relevant information about helping to reduce the generation of plastic waste on the island, both for visitors and returning residents.
Presently, the Ibiza Limpia project forms part of the Ibiza Fènix Social Leadership Initiative (www.ibizafenix.org - Waste Management section), and is operated by Chris Dews, Georgina Milani and Mirko Abbruzzese, who has also founded his own organisation called ‘One Planet One Life’ (www.oneplanetonelife.org/es), an NGO dedicated to the conservation of the marine environment.
Both organisations work actively with the ‘Plastic Free Ibiza’ platform (https://plasticfree.es), supported by the Ibiza Preservation Fund and which joins many other groups together in the effort to eliminate single use plastic in Ibiza and Formentera by 2023.