This year summer course «Our Common Baltic» held by the Coalition Clean Baltic took place in Hel, Poland. New Coalition Clean Baltic members got acquainted with the flora and fauna of the Baltic sea and each other. Course has brought together about 20 participants from Belarus, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Estonia. The participants listened to lectures of leading experts on various environmental topics , participated teambuilding exercises, watched videos about the Coalition Clean Baltic, Pharmaceutical pollution and Microplastics. They have been trained in various methodologies of environmental quality assessment. Among the main topics discussed at the Our Common Baltic (OCB) was: environmental policy and international cooperation, environmental design, aquaculture, fish and fisheries in the Baltic sea, mammals (in particular seals) of the Baltic sea, eutrophication, biogenic load on the Baltic sea, pharmaceutical pollution, microplastics and marine litter.
Microplastics has become a key topic. Participants learned to identify microplastics from water samples. Friends of the Baltic experts provide comments and consultation based on 2 years experience and results of investigations in the Gulf of Finland. Expert Elizaveta Merinova shared their experience in the research of microplastics – water sampling and analysis of the obtained results, investigations of the microplastics components in cosmetics.
It was interesting to discuss solutions for the problem of microplastics from synthetic clothes in the format of debates. The game was attended by 4 sides of issue: decision makers (Politicians), manufacturers of synthetic clothes, Environmental activists and other participants - local public that was interested in the topic. It was difficult to agree, but participants came to a consensus and decided that it is necessary to approach this issue simultaneously in different aspects. On the one hand, there is need to stimulate research in the field of alternative materials with the appropriate properties of inexpensive tissues. Also there is need to continue and deepen research in the field of microplastics for understanding this source. On the other hand it is important to motivate business that switch to natural fabrics instead of plastic. And the last and very significant aspect is education and raising public awareness about microplastics pollution among population. People can significantly impact to situation if they will make an conscious choice more environmentally friendly materials. It would be very good if role-play approaches carried out in the real life.