Djerba and plastic pollution
Photo by Anis1969
Fourth largest consumer in the world!
Fourth world consumer of plastic products, Tunisia consumes each year, nearly one billion plastic bags. About 90% of them are light bags, often used only once.
Plastic pollution in Tunisia
Lightweight plastic waste is particularly susceptible to becoming marine litter because it is considered by consumers to be single-use. Nevertheless, using a highly persistent material for a single-use disposable item not only has environmental or economic impacts, but also affects human health. They are easily blown down the drain, into waterways, and eventually into the sea. Discarded bags can be particularly harmful in the marine environment, where animals can perish after becoming entangled or mistaking them for food. Over time, each bag dissolves into thousands of plastic particles that can also become toxic pollutants, potentially harming the organisms that ingest them and ultimately entering the food chain.
With its sixty islands and islets visible in the coastal landscape, Tunisia is a victim of plastic, also the third country in Africa in terms of environmental pollution. The phenomenon of plastic pollution is indeed staggering, and in light of this observation, we will address the case of Djerba.
Djerba and the plastic
Djerba as a clean and green destination?
Djerba is one of Tunisia’s best touristic destinations. Our small island is characterized by its exotic beauty, rich history, and wide selection of hotels and resorts. It has been recognized as one of the cleanest ecological areas in Tunisia before becoming popular as a tourist destination. This is due to the fact that there are no large industries such as cement or chemical plants and it retains its agricultural roots with many farms.
One of the most important industries in Djerba is tourism, yet it is also its worst enemy. It has grown steadily over the years, resulting in an exponential increase in the amount of trash and debris left by tourists and locals on Djerba’s pristine beaches, which were once the cleanest in Tunisia. They are a source of visual pollution because of their easily visible presence:
- It spoils the beautiful landscapes that our beautiful island offers us
- It prevents the evacuation of rainwater
- The pollution of groundwater and soil already weakened by the arid nature of the region
The main threat is the microparticles that will infect the entire food chain.
Djerba is characterized by seasonal mass tourism which represents a threat to the environment in terms of plastic consumption.
According to the municipality of Houmet souk and Midoun, Djerba has generated until September 30, 2022, a total of 15629.78 T of waste, including 3751.0752 T of plastic waste or 24% of the total.
When we consider these statistics, we see that the situation is becoming worrisome over the years, so we need to think about solutions that will help us overcome this problem before it’s too late.
The ban on single-use plastic will create exciting opportunities for Djerbians to produce a variety of products. It will not only improve the quality of life of the inhabitants but will also bring peace to this historically peaceful destination.
The government’s decision to ban plastic in Djerba came into action on Monday 1 August 2022. However, there are many things to do before the announcement of this ban.
One of the best ways to reduce plastic use is to find alternatives for your everyday plastic items. Here are some handcrafted options for common plastic items:
- Plastic bags can be replaced by cloth/cotton bags, baskets, mats, or paper bags
- Plastic bottles and containers can be replaced by glass, aluminum, or stainless steel bottles and containers.
- Plastic straws can be switched to metal or paper straws. You can also create your own with a paper towel tube and a rubber band.
Nevertheless, it must be taken into consideration that most alternatives are more expensive than traditional plastic. This is the strength of fossil plastic: its low price in an oil-addled world.
The fact of the matter is that this is not a problem that Djerba can solve on its own – but we must all unite and work together to make this change happen.
In addition to being a natural paradise, let’s make our island a global inspiration!