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 While during the Summer months our beaches are busy accommodating a variety of activities, OUTLOOK takes a closer look at how beach management through the Blue Flag International standards are contributing to improving the quality and safeguarded of our beaches.

The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to over 3300 beaches and marinas in 39 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean. It is an international award given to beaches, harbours and marinas that achieve a number strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education, environmental management and safety. 
Malta started participating in this Blue Flag Programme back in 2006 and today has two beaches,  St George’s Bay in St Julian’s and Bugibba Bay,  awarded the Blue Flag Status while three other beaches achieved the Beach of Quality Award. These include Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha and Għadira Bay in Mellieħa.
The Blue Flag Programme works towards the sustainable development at beaches. The programme ensures that 32 quality standard criteria are met including that the local authority/beach operator establish a beach management committee, facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach, an adequate number of toilet facilities must be provided, access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled. The beach must also fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements and have an adequate number of lifeguards and lifesaving equipment available at the beach. First aid equipment must be available on the beach and wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place.

How should we protect our beaches?
Like anything fun in life, having a relaxing day at the beach requires some sort of  preparation and responsibility.  Each individual should be responsible on what to take with him at the beach . This preparation is fundamental both for green living purposes as well as for our health. The major concern of beaches is waste. Litter on beach surfaces is an easy preventable problem. The public who frequents the beach is the main generator of this form of pollution. Keeping our beaches clean will result in keeping waste out of our waterways, as well as preventing dangerous and unhealthy elements to deposit and settle in our sand beaches.
Tips for healthier beaches!
1. Do not carry disposable plastic and glass bottles
Plastic is a very hazardous material on the environment as it does not degrade or decompose easily. However, instead of disposable plastic, one should use the reusable ones. Glass bottles are another harmful hazard which can easily break and settle in the sand. Instead of glass, one should use stainless-steel bottles!

2. Be responsible - Preseve your environment
Take an empty bag for your garbage and deposit it preferably in or next to the nearest bin.