BE THE CHANGE - PROTECT OUR PLANET

The Theo and Liesel Bechtold Foundation is located in Southern Germany. We support international research projects to save the world's oceans and protect the environment. 

Vision

 With our charitable foundation we contribute to save the world's oceans and preserving biodiversity. 


Values

Stay together for our planet! We are responsible for the continued existence of biodiversity and the protection of nature.

Projects

We support selected educational projects and research projects to avoid marine plastic and save the world's oceans. Are you on board? 

 

Manaia

Mediterranean Cleanup Mission 

Protect Our Seas

We're carrying out marine research at sea as well as providing talks at conferences, universities and much more, to achieve a better understanding of our oceans.

Current situation and first steps

With Marine debris becoming an increasing issue worldwide, the Mediterranean Sea is not an exception: The density of plastic in the Mediterranean is similar to that within the 5 gyres in the world's oceans, making the entire Mediterranean Sea the sixth gyre. Within this project's framework, we aim to better understand local communities on small islands towards recycling and the impact of unsustainable trash disposal. We want to encourage a respectful approach from the boating community towards marine literacy and identify anchorages with appropriate recycling facilities for boaters. Within the first season, the main goal will be to evaluate the current status, understand what really happens with trash in the Aegean islands of Greece, and learn where the hotspots of pollution are for more targeted work in the coming seasons. 

Proposed activities for the season 2024 and after

• Regular beach cleanups in collaboration with local schools/clubs/organisations/cruisers
• Screenings of educational short films showcasing the topic of ocean plastics in anchorages and harbours
• Interviews and up front conversations with local hotels, majors and stakeholders to better understand the current state of trash accumulations and disposal
• Outreach to the “Blue Flag” network and organise collaborative events with Marinas/beach bars/harbours and other seaside locations
• Quantification of all collected debris (at sea, on beaches as well as under water) for later analysis to better understand and communicate the input of plastics into the ecosystem.
• After the sailing season evaluate collected data and prepare proposals for local
stakeholders based on the findings
• Establish an online accessible map for boaters to know where they can sustainably dispose of garbage and where trash will simply be burned/buried

Outcome

Within the first season establishing contacts is the first big step, getting local stakeholders and decision makers involved and clearly communicating the current situation. With recurring workshops we aim to reach about 20 - 50 people in each weekly event, adding up to a minimum of 400 people involved in cleanup efforts throughout the season.
In addition workshops will be held with local clubs and schools laying the groundwork for better understanding of the importance of a healthy environment for everyone. With the collected data by the end of the season we will have hard data to back up the current state of pollution and have a better starting point to push for action within the local communities. We would like to thank the team of “Bechtold Stiftung” for supporting this project in the pilot
phase and make the work possible.

Activities report for April
Organizational updates:
We have officially started the season with a presentation on the 17th of April. A short summary of the most important things that have happened is below.
Alexia joined the Crew aboard Waya Waya in the middle of April and is now on board organizing events and outreach directly from the boat while also preparing Material and information for upcoming events of the season.
Upcoming confirmed activities:
Underwater clean up in Legraina. Communication with the dive centers in Athens in order to pick the most suitable bay for underwater cleanups. 2 dive centers will be participating in the clean-up bringing with them scuba diving students interested in the event. The dive will be followed by short presentations related to the topic. While sailing through Sounio, Paralia Pasalimani would be the most probable location where the presentations and a beach clean up followed by a gathering are gonna happen. That will be in collaboration with the organization Posidonia. The president and professor at the Imperial University Petros Nihoyannopoulos will also be giving a presentation. Live meeting with the employees in the municipality of Skyros and discussions about the
approach of the island towards sustainability and reusable forms of energy as well as “The Skyros Project” a project run by the mayor in combination with the University of West Attica. During the meeting plans were made with Mayor Kyriakos Antonopoulos and the leader of
Skyros Project, Konstandina Skanavi. Events are being organized for the first weekend of June in the islands of Skyros.
Completed outreach objectives:
Before our departure from Sicily, a presentation was given on the 17th of April. The presentation was targeted at sailors who aim to visit Greece in the upcoming months but warmly included everyone interested in the boating community of the Marina di Cala del Sole
Licata. Many of the sailors are aiming for the Greek islands in the coming months so part of the presentation was targeting the issues and how they could help. The boats aiming for Greece are already aware of our schedule and the route that we will be following. The hope is to have them involved in cleanups throughout the season, but also for them to organize
cleanup events during their voyages.
Proposed activities in planning/discussion:
We are trying to organize a series of events with a variety of organizations on Skiathos
1. Athilitikos Sillogos skiathou (Competitive team of Skiathos island)
2. Cultural association ‘the Skiathos’ (community work of Skiathos island)
3. Nautical Club of Skiathos (Sailing Club of Skiathos)
4. Municipality of Skiathos
- We research out to iSea (Greek NGO) to set up a collaboration
- We got in touch with “Eco-Cruising Greece” to work together on a sustainable cruising guide
Outreach material:
Brochures for the cleanups were made and are attached below. The first one is meant to be used when the event is organized in order to inform the readers. The second is aiming to be
a friendly reminder with the date and the time to the expected participants.
In addition, we also prepared spreadsheets to evaluate what kind of debris is found in what areas (specifically beaches, but also underwater) to be able to better evaluate where the pollution is coming from.Unser Projekt


FOUNDING. The Theo and Liesel Bechtold Foundation is a non-profit foundation that is managed and organized exclusively by the family council. Our foundation was founded in memory of our father Theo Bechtold (1935 - 2020), who was close to nature and animals throughout his life. 

PURPOSE. After the unexpected death of our father Theo Bechtold in 2020, the family decided to hand over the inherited assets to the Theo and Liesel Bechtold Foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to save the world's oceans, in particular to avoid marine plastic. 

BECHTOLD FAMILY. We are more than a foundation. Bechtold Fensterfabrik GmbH has been part of the Bechtold family since 1966. Bechtold Solar-Technik GmbH was founded in 2004. As one of the most important businesses in the region, we bear responsibility for people and the environment! 

PROJECTS. The total assets of our foundation can generate amounts each year that benefit environmental projects. We are happy to support institutions, universities, schools and working groups in educational projects and research projects. Feel free to read about our current project: https://projectmanaia.at/

THINK OCEAN

"What we know is a drop. What we don't know is an ocean."

Isaac Newton (1643–1727) 

Plastic in the ocean

Plastic waste is flooding our oceans. It's now more important than ever to reduce our plastic footprint worldwide.

Twenty eighteen was the year of the plastic straw. News segments, think pieces, hot takes, and social media posts declared plastic straws public enemy number one. The story had everything: a kid on a mission against the corporate world, a gut-wrenching video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose, an easy-to-understand and ubiquitous problem. We also had a clear resolution requiring hardly any sacrifice: To save the environment, we just had to stop using plastic straws.

Cutting back or even banning single-use straws would certainly help keep them out of our oceans. But would it be enough?

“Wouldn’t that be nice,” says Erin Simon, WWF’s director of sustainability research and development, half laughing, half sighing. Simon is a materials scientist who has worked with some of the world’s biggest corporations to find planet-friendly packaging solutions. And as it turns out, the issue of plastic overrunning our environment is a bit more complicated than straws.


The problem of plastic in nature, particularly in our oceans, is a global crisis. Every minute, about a dump-truck load of plastic goes into the oceans, sullying beaches, hurting wildlife, and contaminating our food supply.
“It's reached this public-awareness tipping point,” says Sheila Bonini, senior vice president of private sector engagement at WWF. “Sometimes an issue can go on for a long time and nothing happens; then, suddenly, boom! The world wakes up, and we have the opportunity to drive change.”
Yet eliminating all plastic from our lives is neither feasible nor desirable. Plastic has a lot of benefits, environmental and otherwise: It keeps our food fresh so we waste less; it’s sterile; it’s durable. And, once we’re done with it, it can be turned into something new. So how can we keep these benefits while keeping plastic out of nature?
“The problem is that as a population we have continued to innovate and create new ways to use plastic—to the point that we are dependent on plastic in our everyday lives,” says Simon. Of all the plastic ever made, half was made in the past 15 years. But we don’t know what to do with all this plastic once we’re finished with it. “Today science tells us that the majority of plastic waste ending up in oceans is coming from land, specifically due to limited or nonexistent waste management,” says Simon. “You can make something 100% recyclable, but if you don’t have a recycling facility, it just ends up as trash.”
In the US, even though we collect almost 100% of the most common type of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET (your standard soda bottle), only about 30% is recycled. It gets tossed in the trash, it gets contaminated, or there aren’t recycling systems to handle it. The situation is worse in developing nations, where the global economy has brought a flood of plastic into places without adequate waste management. Best-case scenario: Whatever plastic isn’t recycled goes to a landfill. Worst case: It gets dumped into nature.
 

 Turning off the tap 

When it comes to our oceans, “I think the first response everyone has to seeing plastic waste is that it doesn’t belong there, so let’s just get rid of it,” says Simon. But while cleaning up the oceans is critical, she says, it’s not the first step. When the sink is flooding, you don’t start with the mop; you start by turning off the tap.
Stopping the flow of plastic means fixing a broken and fragmented system. There are opportunities at every point in the plastic life cycle: We can make plastic from renewable resources, manufacture goods that are recyclable and require less plastic, consume less, and make sure as much plastic is recycled as possible. We also need to ensure solutions don’t negatively impact the environment in other ways. Everybody has a role here: companies, the waste management industry, governments, and consumers.
 

 Branded garbage 

© Eduardo Leal
Companies with household names are helping to lead the charge. Because they rely on their reputations, Bonini says, they’ve already got skin in the game: “One company executive said to us, ‘I don’t want to be the producer of branded garbage.’”
Companies have control over how they package products, how raw materials for plastic are sourced, and how products are packaged for delivery—and they can even shift consumer behavior. But today, companies aren’t equipped with a road map of how to fix the broken system. WWF has created an “activation hub,” called ReSource: Plastic, to close that “how” gap.
ReSource helps companies who have already made ambitious plastic waste reduction commitments turn their aspirations into meaningful, measurable actions. It starts by partnering with a company to identify which changes will make the biggest cuts in the company’s plastics footprint and to establish a tracking system to measure progress. Next, it helps the company implement those changes, providing expert advice along with a suite of tools and step-by-step guidance (including the publication No Plastic in Nature: A Practical Guide for Business Engagement). And because nothing multiplies impact like collaboration, ReSource: Plastic connects companies, stakeholders, and governments so they can share discoveries and investments.
This approach includes developing new technologies to recycle materials we never thought could be recycled, like diapers. Through strategic and innovative collaborations, some companies are also actively engaging other sectors, including waste management. For example Procter & Gamble is forming partnerships to advance the infrastructure needed to recycle a full range of materials, with hopes of accelerating further investment in scalable technologies.
Jack McAneny, director of sustainability at P&G, says the power of cross-value chain collaboration is key. “We want to share new technology around recycling and recovery, since we are not a recycler at heart,” he says. “We benefit from more scale; it helps us achieve our vision.”
Scale is definitely key. One company’s efforts are great, but 100 of the world’s biggest companies together could prevent roughly 10 million metric tons of plastic waste. And if they fully engaged their sectors and supply chains, that number could triple.
 

 Dealing with the trash 

Globally, policies regulating waste disposal and recycling vary wildly—where they exist at all.
“Unfortunately there are a lot of countries where waste management is really not developed,” Bonini confirms, “and that’s going to require investment.” Thankfully, that investment is starting to flow, she says, particularly to Southeast Asia, where waste management has not kept pace with consumption.
The waste management piece of the puzzle is critical but tricky. In many places, if a waste management company makes more money sending plastic to a landfill than to a recycling center, Simon says, it’s going to a landfill. “And so all of that upstream investment to make the materials as recyclable and as high quality as possible is for naught.”
“There are some waste management companies that are starting to look at their role in the broader recycling system,” says Simon. “But we need more companies to get on board with investments and action.”
 

 Beyond bans 

One thing governments can do is nudge sectors that might be dragging their feet. It may not be as easy as banning straws, but passing legislation around waste disposal can have enormous impact. Governments can also help by streamlining and standardizing recycling rules.
In turn, consumers need to participate in the solution. Giving up plastic straws is a great start, but there’s so much more plastic that we consume. “We are asking every actor in the plastic life cycle to rethink how they’re using plastic and how they’re managing it when they’re done with it,” says Simon. “I would make that same ask of a consumer.” (See sidebar below.)
 

 Plastic-free nature 

WWF has set the audacious goal of No Plastic in Nature by 2030. “Today science tells us that a 50% reduction is possible,” says Simon. “As a conservation organization seeing the urgency and direct impacts on our ecosystems, we know that’s just not enough. I think we have to be ambitious, because the problem is so big.”
The world is poised to act on plastics, and WWF—with its global presence, holistic approach, and proven track record on issues much more contentious than this one—has a critical part to play. Working alongside other groups, like Ocean Conservancy and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, WWF is helping herd the cats, aligning everyone toward concrete action.
Meeting this goal will mean bringing together stakeholders with different priorities, goals, and points of view, says Simon. It’s a monumental task. But, she says, there’s one huge advantage. “We all agree wholeheartedly: Plastic doesn’t belong in nature, and we need to stop it from ending up there.”

(https://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/fall-2019/articles/plastic-in-the-ocean)

Scholarships. Are you studying at a European university and have a research project on the subject of the world's oceans, environmental protection or sustainability for your final thesis?How can we help you? 

Ideas. As an institution or research group, are you promoting innovations to prevent plastic waste? Great!We gladly support you!



Through children's eyes. Does your kindergarten or educational institution have creative ideas on how our oceans and animals can be saved? Let's get started! We look forward to the diverse contributions of the little researchers! 

Education. Your students would like to exchange ideas about environmental protection, plastic waste or sustainability in project work? Or would you like to take part in a student competition with your class?Together we will develop the right project for your school!