I came across these colourful turtle bags in my favourite organic emporium, Fresh and Wild this week and they caught my imagination. I’d been feeling guilty about the amount of plastic bags we were using after reading an article in the Guardian about the campaign to banish them in the Devon town of Modbury.
Rebecca Hosking, a wildlife camerawoman, managed to convince the residents of her home town of Modbury to say no to plastic bags after filming a documentary about the terrible environmental impact they were having on marine life in Hawaii. These colourful string bags seemed the answer and I promptly bought one for my mother and two for me. They’re small enough to scrunch up in a pocket and looking so pretty it would hardly be a hardship to use them.
Turtles are a big issue on the Greek island of Zakynthos where we visit my sister every year, at the hotel she runs with her Greek husband Denis. Zakynthos is home to the loggerhead turtle, Caretta Caretta and their nesting sites on the beaches in the bay of Laganas are protected. Turtles and plastic bags are a lethal combination – when your rubbish finds it’s way out to sea, the turtles mistake a floating plastic bag for jelly fish, and the tasty snack they’re hoping for becomes a deadly mouthful.
On Zakynthos, there’s the Earth, Sea and Sky information centre at one of the key nesting areas on Gerakas beach, staffed by volunteers from all over Europe – I remember buying turtle postcards there and then enjoying kalamari at the traditional taverna next door, in the shade of a huge mulberry tree dripping with purple fruit.
But all’s not well in turtle-paradise and the building and development of land nearby continues as locals try to cash in on the island’s tourism. A marine park has been established, but it seems that the fishing and development continues unabated – read about one man’s campaign to save the Zakynthos turtles here.
I guess that it’s the same dilemma in the marine park of Zakynthos as in the game parks of Africa – how to persuade the locals that they have a financial as well as ecological interest in preserving these beautiful creatures.
Thanks to RobW for his photos on Flickr.com