Words Sawsan Bou Fakhreddine
How to handle its trash is one of Lebanon’s most pressing problems. In the summer of 2015 it reached a tipping point, as domestic trash was simply not collected. This led to protests and shameful images of garbage being piled up everywhere. A small country such as Lebanon that is densely populated does not have enough space for more landfills to absorb its trash. While a decision to establish waste-to-energy facilities has been taken by the Government, it is still a long way off to implementation. If anything, this garbage crisis (which may rear its stinky head again, when these current temporary landfills fill up) has taught us is that there is a widespread lack of understanding of waste management by the general public.
Awareness on Wheels
Concepts such as reducing, reusing, sorting, recycling, and composting need to be promoted and taught as part of a sustainable, long-term solution. Informing people about these issues is essential. Thanks to the generous funding of the Banque du Liban (BDL) and its governor, Riad Salamé, a green bus has recently taken to the road in order to fulfill this important mission. Designed to travel around the country and educate the Lebanese about waste management, “Awareness on Wheels” was officially launched on January 18, 2017, and since February of this year it has been touring schools. Modeled after an American green bus initiative, “Awareness on Wheels” aims to teach youth, especially schoolchildren, the concepts of sorting, minimization of waste generation, reusing of wastes, and recycling. This green bus will be visiting public and private schools all over Lebanon during the school year, and will also be available to municipalities and local groups that wish to organize community activities to raise awareness about solid waste management.
A wide range of information
The materials on the bus are provided in three languages (Arabic, French, and English) and include interactive tools from which the public can benefit. The bus has a mini- library with multimedia information about the environment, all the latest promotional materials, easy-to-read information about minimizing waste generation for both schools and at home, plus computers to enable students to seek additional information on the Internet. For nursery school children there are storytelling and artwork activities, and for older children and adults there are many hands-on-activities that involve the sorting of solid waste and reusing waste through art. In addition, assistance is provided to help the school administration to develop and implement a plan to sort, reduce, reuse, and recycle waste that is generated at the school or university.
“Awareness on Wheels” is a joint initiative by Green Cedar Lebanon and AFDC, a private initiative and an NGO, both of which are dedicated to the preservation of Lebanon’s natural resources, along with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education. In addition to the financial support from the Banque du Liban, Beyond magazine and Bank Audi have contributed toward making this project a reality.
The Ministry increases awareness in private schools
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education, through the Unit for Health Education and Environment, has developed an integrated program for increasing environmental awareness of solid waste management in private schools. The project aims to train and strengthen the capacity of health advisors, to integrate the concept of strategic planning, to involve teachers, and to work together to develop solid waste management plans in each school.
Counselors, teachers, and students will contribute to developing and designing an integrated plan, raising awareness about issues related to solid waste, and finding sustainable solutions to the problem. Counselors and teachers will cooperate in order to integrate the concepts of waste reduction, sorting at source, recycling, composting, and others. The Ministry will develop training material and activities that will be distributed to the schools. In addition, the program also aims to involve the local community, such as municipalities, environmental associations, and the concerned institutions in the procedure of waste collection and sorting, and aims to encourage students to participate in the process through different incentives that are used to buy containers, to distribute flyers for awareness, and to organizing activities related to solid waste management.
The “Awareness on Wheels” green bus is designed to spend one to two days in each school that it visits. To book your turn during this academic year, you can call 03-381082/ 01-898475(6)
or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and request.