LIN Confessions - Ana Lui talks about her LIN journey
A year ago Love Ibiza Now came to life out of our mutual frustration with seeing more and more plastic trash and degradation of Ibiza. Everywhere I went I started to notice micro plastics and rubbish, in the woods while walking my dogs, on every single beach and during our hikes around the island. It was the first time I have seen so much pollution in Ibiza during winter time. Normally summers get messy with so many millions of visitors but each winter the island seemed to be recovering well until about 2 years ago... Once I started to notice plastic bags, straws, q-tips everywhere, I started to look closely at the amounts of single-use bags at each shop and fruit market on the island. Every place was drowning in plastic bags, packaging, waste, straws and styrofoam boxes... and I started to notice people taking produce bags for one item, one apple one bag, one onion one bag... it was very frustrating.
I also noticed how easily we say the words “I love Ibiza”.
Holidaymakers, expats, business owner’s, young families raising their kids on the island kept saying oh I love Ibiza... But this LOVE wasn’t visible through the choices and actions we were making on a daily basis.
LIN had to start somewhere so we have chosen to focus on plastics and promoting recycling on the island, especially for the businesses (restaurants, hotels, bars) based on a beach, close to the sea, businesses that were having an impact on the coastline and its wildlife with the waste they created. We wanted to get everyone together and promote new habits and actions, easy to follow step-by-step guidelines for each venue, each rental villa and for every single island visitor.
I have dreamt of #plasticfreeibiza and I believed it was possible to take quick actions towards sustainable island living. I have to admit in the past twelve months I have researched, investigated, interrogated :) the Consell, Ayuntamientos, NGOs, visited recycling plants/ sorting units and asked millions of uncomfortable questions. I have cried, laughed, thought I found solutions, lost hope, gave up and picked myself up again several times a week... it’s been a real rollercoaster for everyone involved and I want to thank everyone who supported us from the beginning.
Working full time and running two businesses meant I could only focus on LIN on my days off and between me, Hjordis, Sarah and Gemma we have been juggling every spare second we had getting LIN off the ground and out to the people. LIN is a certified non-profit organisation. We wanted to become a platform connecting all Ibiza based organisations and invite local businesses and individuals (residents and visitors) to get involved.
Back in December 2017 we have organised Bake Sale & Christmas Raffle at Aubergine.
Thanks to our lovely sponsors we had amazing prizes to giveaway and thanks to our talented bakers and friendly restauranteurs we had tons of cakes to sell.
We managed to raise 1789,17€ and decided to invest this money into raising awareness for #plasticfreeibiza with our t-shirts, cotton shopping totes and flyers.
We also wanted to look into plastic free fruit and veg produce bags.
I contacted a company called Sphere España after doing a lot of research on biodegradable and compostable products. After hundreds of emails and phone calls we decided to invest some money into buying compostable veggie produce bags, together with our investor Frutos Secos Ibiza, which we wanted to donate and introduce to every single fruit and vegetable shop (local Fruiterias) in Ibiza in order to eliminate the clear hard plastic fruit / veg bags. The order took 6 months to arrive in Ibiza and in this 6 months we have been actively participating in beach cleans, no straw events, meetings and talks with other organisations.
We have also found out that bioplastics and biodegradable products are NOT what they seem to be. Bioplastics need very specific conditions to break down (lots of oxygen and very high temperatures) otherwise they remain intact They actually act exactly the same as plastic. They won’t break down in landfill (because there is no oxygen in landfill) and they won’t break down in marine environments either. They actually need an industrial composting unit (which doesn’t yet exist in Ibiza). What’s worse is if they end up in yellow plastic recycling they will contaminate the recycling process for normal plastic.
A lot of suppliers simply omitted the facts and marketed products that are not only unsustainable but also unusable in Ibiza.
Here is a short video for those who want to find out the truth about biodegradable products...
Please watch they are very very short :)
Unfortunately there is no way around it.
This news took us back to square one and we wondered if there is any hope at all...
We have also found out that some of the businesses we have looked up to for support and help were not even actively recycling... and some of the businesses were relying only on biodegradable plastic, using it as if it would disappear overnight. Unfortunately they have been misled by the genius marketing that biodegradable companies created.
Because all the biodegradable laws and compostable laws are very new in Spain and still not 100% tested or approved there was a lot of contradicting information coming for multiple sources.
A glimpse of hope came after discovering that the compostable bags we have ordered from Sphere are actually the only ones that the government will be promoting as a substitute to single use plastics from 2020...
I’m writing this because I feel we are all feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information, constantly changing law, contradicting news, diversities at each Ayuntamientos and for me for sure the language barrier. Even though I speak fluent Spanish some of the technical words are not clear to me and I get lost in translation. Not to mention Catalan :)
Despite the past year being so challenging we are never going to stop aiming for a more sustainable future for Ibiza and all the Balearic islands. Even if sometimes it feels absolutely pointless to clean a beach especially when you come back the next day and it’s covered in plastic again, mostly micro plastics coming from the sea, and even if sometimes it feels insane going door-to-door talking to managers, bartenders, waiters and the owners about plastic straws, recycling and ways of reducing packaging or waste.
From time to time people tell me to go away, or tell me they are not interested, sometimes they tell me it’s waste of my time because we are all doomed and we are all going to die anyway so what’s the point... but sometimes I get inspired by meeting someone who’s heart hurts as much as mine. We talk about eco cleaning products, water filtration systems and ice machines for their business, dreaming together about living on a plastic free island.
Even though we haven’t actually accomplished anything life changing yet I want to believe that we have created a growing community of likeminded people who truly love ibiza.
I want to believe that we have inspired some people to think more consciously and make right decisions for their homes, their businesses, their kids...
And as insignificant as cleaning a beach, or saying no to straw may seem it is still the perfect way to start an open conversation about the future, about plastics, about our choice and waste management...
I believe that once you become aware of something it is truly impossible to go back to becoming clueless...
Awareness is the first step towards a change...
Let’s never stop dreaming!
Thank you for supporting us!
xoxo Ana Lui