The Galapagos Islands, one of the most emblematic natural places on the planet, recognized for its biodiversity of unique wildlife, and for conservation efforts, unfortunately, suffer the same plastic curse as many other pristine natural sites.
Read on to learn about the Galapagos plastic problem; how it is affecting Galapagos wildlife; what the Galapagos authorities and Happy Gringo are doing to fix it; and how you can help.
HAPPY TRAVELS EQUALS NO PLASTIC
WHY DID WE DECIDE TO CREATE OUR OWN CAMPAIGN?
Since May 2018 the local Galapagos Council has phased out the use of plastic bottles, single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, and containers. This is a wonderful first step in creating a plastic-free Galapagos, but many travelers are still not aware that these restrictions are in place.
Happy Gringo’s idea for the campaign #HappyTravelsNoPlastic was born to support the ecological movement at the Galapagos Islands. It is also a way in which tourists can easily get involved, to recognize the issue, and ensure that their trip supports Galapagos conservation.
In order to conserve the delicate Galapagos habitat, and protect the emblematic animals of the islands, we must first begin to raise awareness.
WHAT IS THE #HappyTravelsNoPlastic CAMPAIGN?
Plastic bottles are a big problem, as tourists buy multiple small water bottles each day, and often they are not discarded responsibly.
Did you know that, by making use of a single refillable bottle for just one year, you alone can reduce the production of 1,460 plastic bottles! Just imagine the difference if all travelers followed this example.
So, Happy Gringo decided to create a reusable water bottle as a free gift to every client who books one of our Galapagos Land Tours. All Galapagos Hotels have water refill stations, so now tourists can conveniently, and easily, support the Galapagos No Plastics campaign each time they get thirsty.
To make the bottles stylish and attractive, we used several iconic animals in our unique designs – a Sea Turtle, a Blue-footed Booby, and a Frigate Bird. Each of these beautiful animals is adversely affected by plastic waste, so the designs themselves serve as a reminder and motivation to reuse the bottles.
The bottles are metallic, so they keep your water cool and fresh under the hot Galapagos sun. Plus, it is a great souvenir that you can take back home, explain and demonstrate the campaign to your friends, and also the animals that live in the Galapagos Islands.
HOW CAN YOU HELP US TO SPREAD THE WORD?
It´s time to make a difference! Join our campaign today.
Here are two easy ways that YOU can help:
- If you already have one of our bottles: Take a photo of your bottle in a Galapagos landscape, and upload it to your social media networks with the hashtag #HappyTravelsNoPlastic, to help us create awareness of the campaign.
- Otherwise just sharing this blog post, or using the same hashtag on social media will help us to spread the word.
GALAPAGOS CONSERVATION: THE EFFECTS OF PLASTIC IN THE ECOSYSTEM
Just in case anybody needs more motivation, here are some statistics about the scope of the Galapagos plastic problem…
A remarkable 22 tons of waste was collected from the beaches of Galapagos during cleaning days last year, of which more than 90% was plastic. In fact, there was no single place in the Galapagos that was free of plastic, macro and microplastic were found on 13 islands and at 30 different field sites, both in the sea and on the beaches.
This volume of plastic that ends up in the ocean is alarming, and the consequences on marine life are becoming increasingly evident. Sea lions tangled in fishing nets, sea turtles that confuse plastic bags with jellyfish, bird nests made with plastic fibers, or fish that eat microplastics.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds, and 100% of sea turtle species. At the time, at least 18 species have been recorded in the Galapagos, as either being entangled by or having ingested plastic.
OUR GALAPAGOS ANIMAL FRIENDS ARE SUFFERING – THEY NEED OUR HELP
Charles – The Green Sea Turtle
I live in the Galapagos Islands. I am friends with most of the animals in the ocean. I have been noticing that many people are littering the beaches. The tide drags the plastics and takes them to the deepest part of the sea. Sometimes my marine friends play with these plastics, it may seem funny but soon after they start feeling bad. Especially my younger offspring who think it’s food.
Arlo – The Blue Footed Boobie
I live in North Seymour Island – Galapagos. I build my nest near the beaches, and I have noticed that lately, my blue feet have turned a dark color. I have noticed that this happens when I walk through the plastic entangled in the plants near the ocean. People come to see me because of the color of my feet, so I don’t want to lose that.
Lily – The Great Frigate
I live on the island of San Cristobal – Galapagos. For years I’ve seen how humans have been deteriorating my island with garbage. My Friends, the other frigates, sometimes confuse the plastics with food, and soon after they become sick. I don’t want to lose more friends.
If you would like more information about supporting our campaign, please write to [email protected]