Here, you can see old rubbish that was dumped in the forest 50–100 years ago. That was how waste was “disposed of” in the olden days. Before the age of plastic, a lot of rubbish consisted of natural materials, which decomposed and disappeared quite quickly. It is difficult to say how long it takes for different types of waste to decompose. Plastic and cigarette butts remain in nature for a long time. Although you can’t see them, small microplastic particles can remain in nature and in the sea for hundreds of years. Rubbish in nature, especially rubbish that decomposes slowly, spoils the nature experience and can be a danger to the animals in the forest. Everyone should take responsibility for their own rubbish—all rubbish produced during an outing must be properly disposed of.
Today, we know much more about the damage that waste can cause in nature, and we have a functioning waste management system in the archipelago. On the main islands, Southwest Finland Waste Management helps residents with everyday waste issues and arranges reception sites for waste. In the outer archipelago, it is the Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association that builds and maintains waste stations, dry toilets and suction disposal facilities, and collects scrap and hazardous waste.
According to the UN’s goals for sustainable development, Agenda 2030, all countries must strive to transition to a circular economy. A circular economy can be described as a kind of cycle, a new economic model. Instead of producing, buying and throwing things away, you use and reuse everything you have produced as long as possible. The only way to create a balance with nature in terms of the rubbish trail we leave behind is to minimise consumption significantly and recycle materials as much as possible.
Can you balance like this?
Did you know? It takes 1–5 years for a cigarette butt to break down into microplastics and 20–25 years for a piece of chewing gum to decompose. The decomposition time of glass is estimated to be one million years. Organic waste, for example a banana peel, decomposes in a month.
The Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association is a nationwide environmental organisation for all boaters and others who move at sea. The association has been working for a cleaner archipelago and lake district since 1969.