36 tonnes of litter removed from Hornstrandir

25.06.2020 - 15:41
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 Mynd: Halla Ólafsdóttir - RÚV
The annual litter picking expedition to the uninhabited Hornstrandir nature reserve in the Westfjords ended on Tuesday. Gauti Geirsson, one of the organisers of the clean-up, says volunteers picked up 2.6 tonnes of rubbish this year. They have removed 36 tonnes from the coast since 2014.

Driftwood replaced with plastic

"The currents behave in a way that seens to wash a lot of rubbish up onto Hornstrandir. Since antiquity, there has been a lot of driftwood, but now it's plastic arriving," Gauti told Rás 2 radio. Groups of roughly 20 volunteers go to Hornstrandir to clean the shoreline each summer. Space is the limiting factor, Gauti says, and more would like to take part than are invited each year.

Oil cans, mustart packaging, and conveyor belts

Gauti says the shoreline is typically littered with waste from land and also from sea, in the form of fishing equipment, nets, buoys, and ropes that have not necessarily been thrown away on purpose. He says the saddest thing is finding items that should never end up in the sea; such as oil cans and conveyor belts.

One tonne was picked up in Hornvík this year in the first visit to the area in five years. Then, volunteers collected two tonnes of litter.

"It could be that we are cleaning the top of the iceberg," Gauti explained, saying that a lot of litter can be buried and then re-exposed by changing weather and tides. "Though we are also seeing new rubbish, unfortunately. So the feeling that there is a lot less is tinged because there is nevertheless mustard pots and all sorts of other packaging and strange things that we are seeing."

A coastguard patrol ship will later transport the rubbish for safe disposal in Ísafjörður, and Gauti says the coastguard's participation is essential for the annual beach clean to be possible.

Everyone can help

"We carry on and we want to encourage people to pick up litter too. You don't need to do it on this scale," Gauti says, adding that individuals can make a difference by being careful about what they buy, how they dispose of waste, and by picking up litter in their own neighbourhoods.

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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