Brad Robertson

Many hands make light work

Hands up who wants to do it again..jpg

Last weekend a gang of good hearted souls travelled to Cala Mitjana to give it a spruce up. Organised by Lars Molin (who also took the photos) from Palma Yacht Crew, a 22,000 strong group on Facebook, the aim was to clear the beach of rubbish. The group were joined by Brad Robertson from Asociacion Ondine who launched the Dos Manos beach clean up program on the island last year.

Dos Manos collecting rubbish

The Two Hands Project (Dos Manos) was set up in Australia in 2010 by a non-profit organisation that tackles plastic pollution across the world ( Majorca’s Asociación Ondine worked in collaboration with them to launch in the Balearics. The Mediterranean is one of the World’s marine biodiversity hotspots, with just 0.8% of the total ocean surface but harbouring almost 10% of the world’s marine biodiversity, which is particularly affected by solid waste pollution, comprising approximately 75% of plastic. The motto of Dos Manos is  ‘Take two hands and 30 minutes to clean up your world – anytime, anywhere’. We all love to enjoy our coastlines but how often do we feel a little bit of the magic is taken away by unsightly plastic waste? As well as blighting our beaches it’s affecting our marine life and ecosystems in ways that will be impossible to reverse.

Org Assoc Ondine.jpg

Two hands (Dos Manos) embodies the spirit of the huge national/international clean up days but asks what can you do with your two hands in just thirty minutes, at a location near you, on any day of the year. Putting it simply: what you can do to care for the place(s) that are near to you or important to you, anytime that you want. They want to encourage everyone to include a 30 minute clean-up in their day to day lives. It really is easy and it’s also very satisfying to see what a difference you, your family and friends can make in such a short time with such little effort. Bring your kids, your mum, your nana and your pop and your friends. This is really about our communities banding together to make our world a better place to live in and to give our kids a greener future! Awareness and education is the key and good education is hands on experience, learning through participation and action.

Dos Manos Rubbish

86kg of pollution was collected in total from Cala Mitjana, and of that most of it was plastic. The message coming through loud and clear is please do not flush away sanitary waste, or any other plastic waste, down your toilet! One major threat to marine life is “micro plastics”. They collected close to 200 cotton buds which had made their way through the sewage systems and into the Med. If you know of anyone disposing of their cotton buds in the toilet, please explain to them, what a problem they cause to our marine life.

Single use plastic, such as drinking straws, what a waste!


But it doesn’t stop there, Brad wants to get us to change our mindsets and think about our consumption of plastics. “Our goal is to promote re-usable items such as bags, drinking bottles and so many other things we simply use once and then throw away. Have a think about your daily routine and what items you could replace with re-usable ones and stop using throw away items. Water bottles, coffee cups, plastic bags, plastic cutlery and plates, unnecessary packaging from supermarkets, the list goes on and on and on and on. Of course this is not going to happen overnight, we may be dreamers here at Asociacion Ondine but we aren’t stupid! This is a huge process of changing people’s habits; yes yours and mine and everyone else that calls Majorca home. I see it all the time in my own habits (which are definitely changing for the better) as well as during my daily life. A classic example was at a local market where I buy my veggie´s and carry them in my traditional Mallorquin super cool basket. I bought a bag of potatoes that were already in a mesh bag, the guy smiled as I gave him the money and then proceeded to put the mesh bag into a plastic bag. No gracias, I don’t need a plastic bag to carry a bag, thanks!  It’s the little things we do in our daily lives that create the world’s biggest problems, let’s change what we do!

Briefing the troops


“Dos Manos collection bags are re-usable, meaning we encourage people to carry them in the car, on their bike, in their back pack for that right moment when you are out and about and think to yourself…Man this beach is dirty, I’m going to take my Dos Manos and 30 minutes of my life to clean up our world!  Once you have collected the rubbish you can give the bag a rinse and wash and its ready for the next Dos Manos 30 minute session, easy!

“Our third goal, which is a much longer-term goal, is to find out where all this plastic pollution is coming from and attempt to stop it at the source. This is the only real solution for the massive subject of marine pollution and a solution that will take a huge amount of work from all of us! Something that will help us with this is the branding of plastic bottles and other discarded plastic pollutants, be it for company promotions or for product identity we can retrace the path the plastic pollution took and look for positive solutions with the original owners of these ugly and everlasting pollutants.

What a load of ....jpg

“Part of the project includes an audit of the rubbish collected, we encourage anyone who is participating to take the time to count and ID the pollutants collected. We have a general public easy-to-use form and a scientific form, which will be used internally at Asociacion Ondine. The data we collect will be stored in our data base in the same format as the EU requires, this way we can share with government and EU bodies to assist in the bigger picture of plastic pollution right around the Mediterranean.

“Together we can make a huge difference, but we must all be involved and all have the same goals.”

Bagging it up (2).jpg

Take Action

We can all take action now ‘ANYTIME ANYWHERE’ to reduce plastic and make our beaches sparkle for the right reasons. Tip: don’t forget to take with you heavy duty plastic bags and gloves.

  1. Take 30 minutes to collect plastic waste at a beach where you are.
  2. Take part in one of their organised beach clean ups.
  3. Organise your own beach cleanup with friends, at school or within your business.
  4. Refuse plastic: use less single use plastic in your home and workplace.

If each of us took just 30 minutes to clean up our beaches, added together that would be a lot of time and plenty of plastic that wouldn’t be entering the sea!

Share your success

Asociacion Ondine, and the Majorca Daily Bulletin want to hear of the results of your beach clean up activities and see what plastic pollution you have removed from around Majorca, so make sure you like the Facebook Pages for Asociacion Ondine and The Majorca Daily Bulletin, then please share your ideas and stories on refusing plastic and how to end plastic pollution. You can find out more by visiting: The next beach cleanup scheduled is with The Academy.

It takes a village

(L) Nick, Dr Stoma, Sebastian and Brad

(L) Nick, Dr Stoma, Sebastian and Brad

Remember the summer of 2013? It seems such a long time ago now doesn’t it? Remember those two crazy boys who sailed around the island in their little dinghy to raise money for Mediterranea and Associacion Ondine? Nick and Sebastian (only 15 and 16 years old) hopped into their sailing boat called Rocky and circumnavigated the island in eleven days. They will never forget the summer of 2013 as they raised awareness for the charities and went through a rite of passage themselves. They made their parents, families and friends very proud, and they enlisted the help of 563 people who sponsored them, supported them, and encouraged them.

What’s that saying about it taking a village to raise a child? It takes more than one person to teach a child the ways of the world. It’s the idea that this influence, the impact that individuals and groups outside of the family have on young people, for better or for worse, is a crucial part of growing up. Some people say that it only takes a family to raise a child, not a village. But there does come a point in your life when however much you love your family you need to learn from other people as well. This is one of the wonderful things about bringing a child up in Mallorca: the community around you as a parent, again for better and for worse (I can do without some people’s opinions, but then I guess they can probably do without mine, sometimes they spill out of me against my will)., is incredible.

This is one of the reasons that I find Sail Aid so moving. Two young men got in a dinghy and sailed around the island. They had to rely to some extent on their wits, and on their ability to meet (in their words) Very Nice People. Of course their families were there backing them up, driving to meet them at the end of the day to check they were okay, but there was a definite elasticizing of the apron strings as they sailed further away from their mums. However all the way on their journey they found people who wanted to help them, who wanted to give them a meal or a shower or help them with the boat, so the village, or in our case, the island was teaching them about some of the best parts of human nature.

I proudly count myself amongst the ranks of Very Nice People, as I helped them to set up their blog and Facebook page, and helped them to initially get in touch with the newspapers. And I am very happy to announce that on Thursday December 5th at 7pm the Sail Aid guys will give a talk to The Supper Club at Mood Beach. They will be selling the book that they have written about their amazing summer of 2013. Hope you can join me and them and encourage these two remarkable young people.



Click here for Sail Aid.

Click here for Mediterranea.

Click here for Ondine.


Blowing bubbles

Brad Robertson, Ondine Escape, Vicki McLeod, Family Matters Mallorca When I was a teenager I was a passionate supporter of Greenpeace, I was a strident opponent of certain political systems, and I refused to walk past butchers’ shops. And then I got older and these things, although I still cared about them, didn’t take up or couldn’t take up as much space in my mind as they had done. I am now beginning to realise that the things that we hold dear and important to us when we are children are really the things that truly mean something to us and shouldn’t be shrugged off as “teenage whimsy”.

This doesn’t explain why two years ago I accepted the opportunity to learn to dive with Brad Robertson from Ondine Escape an adventure sports company with a strong environmental focus based in Mallorca: I hate cold water and after some bad experiences in trying to learn to dive when I was younger I wasn’t so keen. However the whole experience was amazing and the finale when I was asked to get into the shark tank at the Palma Aquarium was incredible.

You can read about the whole experience on my blog



and here:

My little girl, La Gidg, went through the whole thing with me, watching enviously from the waterside, and waving back at me when I was in the shark tank. “You can learn when you are eight”, Brad told her. She didn’t forget that, and would occasionally raise the topic of whether or not her dad and I remembered that when she turned eight she would legally be allowed to dive.

Gidg turned eight this week. Incredibly she seemed to have forgotten amongst all the other birthday shizzle that she now could dive with Brad if she so wished. But Brad and I had not, and colluded to arrange a surprise meeting on the beach during her birthday picnic. Surprise, surprise he had some diving gear with him, so would Gidg like to go and blow some bubbles? Of course she did!

There aren’t that many people that I would trust with my daughter’s safety: as an eight year old she can participate in a dive up to 2 metres deep with a qualified diving instructor, but I was very happy to hand her over to Brad who had looked after me and treated me with such patience and understanding when I had learnt to dive.  I watched with a great deal of pride as she was briefed and then loaded up with gear and walked into the sea. They were gone for what felt like hours, but was probably not quite as long. When they re-emerged from the water the rest of the people on the beach got the shock of their life when some banshee started cheering and yelling at the top of her voice (sorry about that Cala Bendinat).

And so a new passion has been formed: a passion for adventure, for the environment, for challenge, and for fun.

Happy birthday chickadee, and thank you Brad for the best present we could ever have given her.