Europe, Environment

Italian school teacher makes it her mission to clean up Europe’s beaches

Carola Farci treks around to seaside and rivers after seeing how far pollution reaches, even depositing garbage where only scuba divers go

Alvise Armellini  | 26.01.2022 - Update : 26.01.2022
Italian school teacher makes it her mission to clean up Europe’s beaches


An Italian high school teacher and scuba diving enthusiast is so passionate about the environment that she has made it her personal mission to clean up Europe’s beaches.

Carola Farci, 32, has taken a year-long sabbatical from her job in Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia, to embark on a journey that has so far taken her across Italy, Greece, Turkiye, and Bulgaria and may lead next to North Macedonia or Kosovo in the Balkans.

“I decided to do this after seeing how polluted the sea has become in past years,” she told Anadolu Agency. “Even when I scuba dive, I come across loads of filth many meters down.”

Moving around with Polly, her 3-year-old black Labrador, and her “Octopusmobile,” a Daewoo with marine decals, Farci is trying to minimize costs by couch-surfing or offering to work in return for free accommodation.

She has done babysitting, but also got her hands dirty with gritty farm work, building chicken coops or cleaning pigpens. She chooses her destinations depending on where she finds people willing to put her up.

Once she arrives, she heads for the beach and, armed with gloves and plastic bags, picks up rubbish. If she is inland, she cleans up riverbeds, “as 80 to 90% of the garbage we find at sea comes from rivers.”

Farci, who weighs what she collects with a luggage scale, has so far removed an impressive 1.3 tons of garbage. But not everything she finds is headed for the bin: anything usable and in good nick – children’s toys, crockery – she plans to donate or sell for groups working for sea conservation.

“The idea is to show that not all rubbish is rubbish,” she said.

An ally in Turkiye

Farci has been on the road since Oct. 17. She first went to Naples and the scenic Amalfi coast, crossed over to the Adriatic coast, and took a ferry to Greece, where she stayed in the Peloponnese, Corinth, Athens, Rafina, and the Cyclades islands.

In Turkiye, she started in historic Canakkale – near the site of the Battle of Gallipoli – and then headed south to Bergama, Izmir, and sun-dappled Fethiye, turned northward via Denizli, Usak, Eskisehir, and Bursa, continued to Yalova, Golcuk, and the Istanbul metropolis – which she found too chaotic – and finished up in Karaburun and Kirklareli.

As she spoke to Anadolu Agency, she was in the Black Sea city of Burgas, in neighboring Bulgaria.

Of all the places she visited, Turkiye had the biggest problem with litter on beaches and elsewhere, she reported.

But Turkiye was also the only place where she found someone who joined her in cleaning up a beach. “There was this girl who was reading a book, saw me, got up, and lent me a hand,” she recalled.

Farci has not yet decided where and when she will wrap up her campaign, saying it may happen in June or earlier. What she cares about is raising awareness of the importance of protecting the marine environment.

“Polluting the sea really means killing us all,” she pointed out.

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