“When people ask me whether I’ve come across large cetaceans or predators during my swims, my answer is that I have mainly encountered suspended plastic waste and floating rubbish. This sad fact has awakened my awareness of the need to start up the Eco-Swimming movement,” says Miquel Sunyer, co-founder of Vies Braves, an open water public network of marine itineraries located along Costa Brava in Spain.
“Virtually half the plastic ever manufactured has been made in the past 15 years. About 8 million tons of this material reach our seas and oceans every year. It’s unclear how long it will take for that plastic to completely biodegrade into its constituent molecules. Estimates range from 450 years to never.”
Sunyer defines Eco-Swimming or ecological swimming as recreational swimming or snorkeling in open bodies of water while collecting rubbish from the seabed along the swim course. “This mode of non-competitive swimming is usually done in shallow water along the coastline. Due to the physical and logistical limitations of open water swimmers – without self-contained breathing apparatus and with just a watertight buoy to carry what you find – it isn’t always possible for swimmers to pick up all the rubbish they find during a sea swim.
The philosophy behind this movement consists of doing everything in our power as individuals to make it normal to pick up any waste we find on the seabed or floating on the surface and remove it from the sea, and trying to encourage other people, including bathers, to turn this action into a daily habit.”
Sunyer envisions the underlying concept of Eco-Swimming is to inspire others, get friends involved, and encourage community leaders to tackle social and environmental problems to help society build a sustainable lifestyle. “Eco-Swimming or ecological swimming follows the same philosophy and values as Eco-Running or Plogging, founded by Samuel Huber, which consists of recreational running whilst picking up rubbish you find along the way.”
Sunyer recommends swimming with a safety buoy or net bag that allows swimmers to transport waste they find.
Additional details and Sunyer’s other recommendations are posted here.
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