‘May the road leave its mark on you. Not you in it ‘ motivates pilgrims

by Lorraine Williamson
pilgrims routes clean up

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – ‘May the road leave its mark on you. Not you in it’ is the motto, motivating thousands of pilgrims to keep the famous route to Santiago de Compostela free of waste. 

Thanks to this awareness campaign, Camino de Santiago pilgrims have removed 186 tons of waste from their route this summer. According to environmental organisation Ecoembes, these eco-pilgrims deposited that waste in 142,000 bags in 358 eco-collection points between June and September. 

Also read: The context of a major clean-up campaign on Camino de Santiago 

This concerns 52,381 kilos of plastic containers, cans, or bags that were deposited in the yellow containers. And also 133.1555 kilos of paper and cardboard in the blue containers. 

Fewer waste bins due to covid 

Fewer eco-places were available in 2021 than in previous years. Many remained closed due to Covid-19. Nevertheless, the ratio of the collected kilograms per waste location increased by 0.4%. 

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Raising awareness of waste recycling 

To make it easier for eco-pilgrims, Ecoembes distributed a total of 142,000 reusable bags made from recycled PET. “We want future generations to continue to enjoy a Camino de Santiago that is waste-free and committed to recycling. For this reason, we continue to work to raise awareness about waste. It should be clear to every user of the pilgrimage route that the only footprint they leave behind along the way may be their own footprints,” said Carolina Martín, responsible for the Camino del-Reciclaje project in Ecoembes. 

Satisfaction with results 

The environmental project has been rolled out over the different stages of the French route, the Northern route, the Portuguese route, the English route, and the Primitive route. The autonomous regions of Galicia, Castilla León, Asturias, La Rioja and Navarra are also participating in the initiative. “We are extremely pleased with the results of this edition. They are a clear reflection of the commitment of the pilgrims and eco-lodges to care for the environment despite the harsh current context caused by the COVID-19 crisis,” added Martín ready. 

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Of the 358 eco-lodges, 173 were in Galicia, 53 in Asturias, 78 in Castilla y León, 34 in Navarra and 20 in La Rioja. The initiative started in 2015 and since then these waste points have been equipped with 2 to 4 yellow and blue containers with a QR code with information for pilgrims with questions about their waste. 

The 186 tonnes of waste collected are added to Ecoembes’ other waste collection data. In 2020, 1,490,283 tons of waste came from the yellow and blue containers. This prevented the release of 1.67 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. It also saved 20.29 million cubic metres of water and 6.37 million megawatt-hours of energy. 

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