Marko Capek x Nelipot
Surfer, diver, skipper, mountaineer and climber by heart and an electronic engineer by education who has been working for 10 years on United Nations Development Program (UNDP) projects in Croatia.
1. Tell us about yourself – who are you?
My name is Marko Capek, I am 34 years old and have been involved in environmental protection for over ten years. I am an electronic engineer by education and have worked for ten years on United Nations Development Program (UNDP) projects in Croatia, the Balkans and today, for example, in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. These are mostly renewable energy projects. I am also a surfer, diver, skipper, mountaineer and climber because I like to explore and stay in nature. In last ten years, I have been travelling the countries of South and Central America, North Africa, Central and Southeast Asia mainly for surfing and diving. And when you see the changes caused by plastic, such as having to remove all plastic in your tropical paradise before you can take a Facebook photo; when dead dolphins are washed ashore and you are diving among trash and encounter whirlpools of microplastics in the Adriatic, that is when you change. It was then that I realized that this was one of the biggest ecological problems on the planet and that the situation was a real concern.
2. Why are you interested in the problem of plastics?
I am interested in exploring myself and everything around me. The ocean is a large and powerful organism and a world of its own. In the Galapagos Islands, I had the opportunity to dive with dolphins, seals, whales, rays, mantas, large sharks and many other inhabitants of the sea. When you see how powerful and beautiful that is, how deep family bonds go, for example of dolphins and whales, when seals swim through air bubbles and when they play with you and they want to take your fins off, then you realize that we are all one, we all want to play, we all feel and love. After an experience like this, it is difficult to throw garbage into the sea.
3. Your purpose – mission – goal
Think about it, we are the only organism in the world that packs its garbage into bags that stay in the nature for 1000 years. So when we dump our garbage (one bag a week), it will remain somewhere in the soil or in the sea for 900 years. We are also the only species in the world to dump garbage on another species and destroy its home. This way, we have excluded ourselves and fell out of harmony with other organisms and therefore cannot call this place home. We don’t love it, we’re slowly destroying it. And that’s what we did with the ocean. Are you aware that 75% of oxygen comes from the smallest organisms that live in the sea but are currently dying at an alarming rate. When a single plastic bag enters the ocean,it can stay there for up to 1000 years, harming large numbers of dolphins and whales. Have you ever seen a mother whale carrying her young calf, who died of poison in his mother’s breast milk (and this is now a common occurrence all over the world) for years, because she cannot deal with the grief of loss. And we continue to dump trash and chemicals into the sea. My mission is that of every human being on this planet: to care for yourself and nature, to raise awareness, to live in the moment and to take care of our home, the environment that is our home, and to live in harmony with everything that surrounds us.
4. Which plastics are a YES vs. which plastics are a NO?
I don’t buy plastic. I do not buy anything that contains plastic or plastic packaging. There are places and situations where I will buy something plastic, I make sure, however, that I’m buying plastic no. 2 and 4 (HDPE and LPDE), which is easier to recycle than, for example, plastics of type no. 1 (PET) and 6 (PS) which I never buy. At the end of the month, me and my girlfriend will collect one handful of plastic waste, whereas an average person will use up to four bags of plastic.
5. How do you live “plastic-free”?
For starters, I have many bags made of canvas and old plastic bags that I reuse. This means that when you come to the market to buy some salad or cheese, you can give the seller your plastic bags. When I get home and the plastic bag is wet or dirty, I wash it with water and soap and hang it on the balcony to dry. A plastic bag will last for 1000 years, so why should I throw it away? I never take plastic bags in the store, not even paper bags for bread with a little plastic opening. I buy fruits and vegetables without a bag and stick the label on one tomato, regardless of the amount I buy. Each store offers products that do not come in plastic packaging; of the ten types of rice, one is certainly packaged in paper, for example. I make my own cosmetics, dishwashing detergents, deodorant, toothpaste, creams and the like. If you are not ready to do that, there are many good ECO detergents and washing agents on the market that are biodegradable, eco-friendly and available in 100% recycled plastic packaging (it is plastic, but you do not contribute to the creation of new plastic). I have many glass containers and I can buy anything in bulk. The pickle jar is great for everything, even for a graveyard candle. We live in the EU, drinking water is everywhere, so why would anyone buy a drink in a plastic bottle? Take a bottle, fill it and carry it with you. I use coconut soap and an agave wood brush to wash the dishes. You have certainly noticed that the dishwashing sponge is slowly getting smaller. This is because of small particles of microplastics that go into the water and then the sea and thus become a problem. There are places in the world where no new fish have grown, because small fish eat microplastics and die; this is quite alarming. I only take “to go” coffee and “take away” food in paper, without plastic. My garbage bags are decomposable and are being sold by all well-stocked shops and drugstores.
6. One wise tip for our readers 🙂
If you are aware of the problem of plastic pollution, arm yourself with patience and try to remind yourself in advance that you do not need a plastic bag and that you do not need a straw your drink and so on. Educate yourself, educate others. Don’t think that the problem will be solved if the whole world starts recycling. No, it won’t. Unfortunately, we produce and use too much to process it properly. We need to reduce our plastic footprint. Don’t be angry at people who don’t understand it yet, but be prepared to share information with them when they are ready. Consciousness has its evolution and follows its course. 🙂 Enjoy life.
Marko, thank you!