The first results of the “Small Actions – Big Crimes”, an initiative organised for the first time in Greece by Aegean Rebreath with the support of British American Tobacco Hellas, in collaboration with the Municipality of Rafina, the Rafina Port Authority and the Sustainable Environment Committee of the Municipality of Rafina – Pikermi, are already encouraging. The initiative aims to collect data on the disposal of cigarette butts in the marine environment, highlight good practices, develop evidence-based proposals, raise public awareness and, eventually, change consumer behavior in favor of sustainable practices.
Important steps have been taken, even from the first two months of its implementation, making us optimistic about the cooperation and involvement of all local actors in this rather complex project.
The beginning of the program in July was marked by an art installation in the central square of Rafina depicting a real “crime scene” in which an exact copy of a giant cigarette butt was placed next to its marine environment victims, such as fish and sea turtles. The installation aimed at raising public awareness for the protection of the environment.
Satellite mapping of contaminated areas
In order to map the areas highly littered with cigarette butts measurements were performed through advanced satellite systems and algorithms. Specifically, in the measurements carried out during October, 19.938 cigarette butts were identified in the area of the port and the beaches of Rafina, while for November, 12.309 cigarette butts were identified in the same areas.
Collection of cigarette butts through clean-up activity
In October 2021 a coastal clean-up activity was carried out to collect cigarette butts on the main beach and the stream of Rafina. The findings of the clean-up supplemented and confirmed the data obtained by the satellite mapping.
Installation of special bins and signage
To prevent reckless dumping of cigarette butts in the environment, special bins were placed in 20 central points of Rafina, in the port and on beaches, as well as special signage informing the public about the negative effects of cigarette butts on the marine environment.
Various activities pertaining in the “Small Actions – Big Crimes” initiative are still on, aiming to raise awareness that marine pollution starts from the land and that prevention is an important step in the right direction.