When you discover the legacy of the past and present

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With globalization and tourism in the 1980’s, the successful story of Elba as a mining island came to an end. Interestingly, these are the same reasons why plastic is a big issue in today’s world, which is why we are here. According to a WWF report from June 2018, 95 per cent of the waste in the Mediterranean Sea and on its beaches is plastic, much of which stems from tourism. Every summer the marine litter is increasing by no less than 40 per cent! In the last days we expected to find a lot of plastic, but we were shocked how much it actually was. We were able to collect a great number of different kinds of plastic, from many countries, and with a diverse past regarding its function. Today we decided to search for a place with tourism impact offside of the coast, the mines of Vallone. A day’s hike across sticks and stones, and into the past lead as back to the present. Even here, in an area without mass tourism, we were able to collect a lot of plastic: classic PET bottles, a plastic hat, sheathed cables and diverse bags, most of which were tattered to pieces. Most telling was the number of small packages containing energy shots and protein shakes left behind by the many Mountain-bikers. They come to enjoy nature and leave behind what they no longer need and that easily takes half a millennium to rot. On a stretch of about 2.8km of narrow path, we collected more than 600g of plastic that was visible to the plain eye – how much more was in the bushes we can’t tell. In summary we can say that no stretch of Elba, how beautiful it may be, is free of plastic. Our waste has reached every corner of the island.