TYRE/SIDON, Lebanon: One of the country’s largest-ever national beach cleanup campaigns took place Sunday morning in multiple locations across Lebanon, with both state officials and local volunteers participating.
The Environment Ministry launched the nationwide “Save Our Face” campaign last week, saying the initiative would aim “to save the face, and convey a cleaner image, of Lebanon.” A source from the ministry told The Daily the campaign covered over 120 locations and 7,000 volunteers participated.
Lebanon is a large contributor to plastic waste in the Mediterranean, which is estimated to have 1,000-3,000 tons of plastic floating on its surface, according to a 2015 study by students at Spain’s University of Cadiz who sampled 28 sites around the sea. However, because of a dearth of local research, no nationwide figures exist for Lebanon’s contribution to the pollution.
In Tyre, Mayor Hasan Dabouq told reporters during the cleanup that the municipality “was continuing to give Tyre’s beach priority,” given its geographic and touristic value. But some participants found themselves lifting large tires off shores littered with glass and plastic bags.
In Sidon, more than 450 volunteers and activists assisted the Army and the Red Cross in the cleanup from the early morning hours.
“This is a wedding for us,” Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati said, speaking with reporters at the Sidon shore. “We wanted to send a unified message to the Lebanese people, telling them that as one heart, we can do something good for our country.”
“Everything good that we do to our country lifts our spirit and that of the expats,” Jreissati added.
In the north, Tripoli’s beach and islands off the coast experienced their own share of cleaning, with some 80 volunteers participating, according to the state-run National News Agency.
The beach from Akkar’s Abdeh to Arida was cleaned as well.
The campaign will be followed up by the continuation of a survey of the Lebanese coast to determine which stretches of beach are polluted. The results are expected to be announced June 15.