The Straw Patrol was born in the Algarve. It is an environmental awareness campaign, which aims to draw attention to the marine debris issue, particularly disposable plastics like plastic straws. The campaign has begun raising awareness by speaking in schools, and doing beach cleanup interventions. We contacted the mentor of the project, Marine Biologist Carla Lourenço, to learn a little more about this initiative aimed to protect our endangered oceans.
“The Straw Patrol arose from the need not only to reach out to people about the science and information on marine litter, but also to show that we can all make a difference, to set an example and leave the planet cleaner”, explained Carla Lourenço, who is now finishing her PhD in Marine Biology at the University of Rhodes, South Africa.
The project seed was a video that emerged in August 2015 and that went viral on the social networks. The video showed the rescue of sea turtle in Costa Rica by a team of marine biologists. It turned out later that this turtle had a plastic straw attached to one nostril. “A straw that probably was used during 10 minutes and ended up in the ocean, endangering not only the life of this turtle but many other organisms. After watching the video I thought it was time to do something, and I began to investigate more and at the end of January 2016 Straw Patrol was created”, said Marine Biologist Carla Lourenço.
The video that was the origin of Straw Patrol
The Straw Patrol’s main objectives are to inform and educate, with the expectation to change mentalities, explaining the problems associated with marine litter and excessive use of disposable plastic. The campaign has three main guidelines: environmental awareness in schools; dissemination of information on social networks (particularly in Facebook’s Straw Patrol page, HERE) and direct action with comercial establishments, inviting entrepreneurs to give up distributing plastic straws, or do so only when requested by customers.
Establishments that join the initiative will be identified by Straw Patrol as establishments that are changing the world and will be advertised as such on social media.
The Straw Patrol made the first school intervention in mid February at the ‘Colégio Nossa Senhora da Graça’, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Alentejo. Distributed by several classes, the message reached 130 students at that school. In March, Straw Patrol held a second lecture at the ‘Pinheiro Rosa’ Secondary School, in Faro. The campaign goes to any school that is interested and will transmite essential information to children and for the preservation and future of our planet.
Straw Patrol is not just words, it has organized various beach cleaning initiatives, such as the clean up of Faro Island Beach, in collaboration with students from the University of Algarve, which had a participation of 45-50 people. In early April, the Straw Patrol will be cleaning the Armona Island during the week of the Ria Formosa. It also aims to organize beach cleaning on a monthly basis.
Carla Lourenço, Marine Biologist, is the coordinator of all the Straw Patrol activities, conducting school lectures, as well as researching and preparing all multimedia content to be shared on the Internet.
The campaign has the support of Carla Lourenço’s research group BIONEPT heads, Katy Nicastro and Gerardo Zardi; and two Marine Biology Master’s students at the University of Algarve, Rita Rodrigues and Filipe Parreira, who produce videos and pamphlets. Lia Laporta also a PhD student, will get Straw Patrol to Costa de Caparica. The campaign is well underway and is preparing clean up interventions and spreading environmental awareness. Join them.