Plastic Free, Mountains to Sea

Emboldened by exceeding their goal of planting 2 million trees, the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) now fixes its sights on yet another monumental challenge – cleaning 3000 km of plastic waste both high and low.

These days, one needn’t look down long before a cigarette butt, a candy bar wrapper or a PET bottle appears underfoot. And not just in urban areas. Plastic waste now blights even our most sacred places. High on the mountain tops, at our favorite crags, along the rivers and quiet lakeshores, impacting not only aesthetic appeal but also the health of local wildlife populations.

“Single use plastic and litter is not just a marine problem, it is everywhere,” explains Tanya Bascombe, General Manager of EOCA, and continues:  “Sooner or later, much rubbish ends up in headwaters that eventually lead into lakes, rivers and finally the sea.”

In fact, of the 8 million tonnes of plastic waste which enters the oceans each year, up to 80% is believed to originate from land sources. With this in mind, and alongside its usual  funding of a broad range of conservation projects around the world, EOCA has dedicated the next two years to clean up plastic waste from 3000 km of habitats – from the summits of mountains to the shores of the seas, and everything in between.

The Initiative

Following a dialogue with its members and the European outdoor industry, EOCA has now put together a shortlist of projects from around the world that seek to address such land-based plastic waste. Eligible projects have undergone a rigorous selection procedure and will raise awareness about the issues of plastic waste, educate and train people to reduce their use of it, and work with local communities to address a specific threat caused by the plastic waste.

While wind certainly can account for much of the rubbish found deep in the most remote habitats, we must admit the negligence of outdoor enthusiasts themselves also plays a role. That’s why projects must also have a link to the outdoor enthusiast and go beyond being just a cosmetic exercise – they must change attitudes and behavior, leaving a legacy once EOCA funding comes to an end.

How to get involved

As always, EOCA will hold a public vote between March 28th and April 11th where everyone can get involved in helping choose which projects to support Spring 2019. Find out more about these ambitious projects and cast your own vote here.

EOCA will also be coordinating a calendar of clean up events and activities that companies are organizing themselves, which both employees and consumers alike can get involved in.

Alongside this initiative, EOCA also aims to start a conversation to tackle the amount of every day single use plastic used by the outdoor industry.  As part of this, the association is looking to work with its members and Messe München to suggest ways that EOCA members and other attendees can reduce the amount of single use plastic generated by exhibiting at and visiting ISPO and OutDoor.

This work will complement that being done by the Single Use Plastics Project being run under the umbrella of Retail Meets Brand an initiative of the EOG, looking at single use plastics in supply chains, as well as the EOG sustainability group and its work on microfibres.


ABOUT EOCA: The European Outdoor Conservation Association is an initiative from the European outdoor industry with the objective of protecting the wild areas it cares so passionately about.

Designed to harness the incredible power of the outdoor industry and to raise money to donate to grassroots conservation groups, the European Outdoor Conservation Association is funded by membership and other fundraising activities within the outdoor industry. 100% of membership fees go to the support of projects. Membership is open to anyone that can demonstrate an involvement in the European outdoor industry.

EOCA’s website:


Photo: EOCA


Jonathan Eidse

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