Litter that accumulates in the marine environment is recognized as a global environmental problem with numerous adverse effects. Despite Greece having more than 16,000 km of coastline, studies on litter composition and sources on its beaches are scarce and fragmentary. Therefore, this study aimed to quantify beach-stranded litter by type of material (plastic, glass, paper, aluminum, other metals, building materials, rope) on 80 Greek beaches, and to explore the relationships between different litter materials and marine- and land-based sources. Field work and data collection were accomplished with the participation of 10,938 and 15,748 volunteers in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and were integrated in the nationwide campaign of voluntary beach clean-ups: “Clean up the Med.” The participation of thousands of volunteers of different ages and social backgrounds in the data collection process not only led to the realization of a national level survey, but also played a significant role in raising public awareness on marine environmental issues, and in promoting a sense of responsibility in protecting marine resources. Plastic was the most abundant litter material found on the surveyed beaches (43–51%), followed by paper (13–18%) and aluminum (7–12%). Onshore and nearshore recreational activities, such as bathing and recreational boating, appeared to be the most dominant litter sources, as they affect the majority (56) of the surveyed beaches, suggesting that environmental education and awareness could reduce the beach-litter pollution problem. Navigation seemed to be the dominant source of marine-based litter, affecting more than half (46) of the surveyed beaches.

You do not currently have access to this content.