A tweet was all it took to start a huge cleaning campaign in Lebanon. On July 9, Rayan Khatoun tweeted that she would love to get a group of volunteers and move around Lebanon one beach at a time and pick up the trash. Fast forward to now, and there are over 100 volunteers who are cleaning Lebanon's beaches every week.
Green Environment Movement, also known as GEM, organized the first cleanup on July 21 at Kfaraabida and Ramlet El Bayda. Although it was physically draining, the volunteers kept cleaning up beaches every weekend ever since!
These heroes came in the right place at the right time. Lebanon is still facing a garbage crisis that is threatening the ecosystem. People's lives are also at stake since they are breathing polluted air.
The beautiful beaches, which are Lebanon's gems, are drowning in garbage. The alarming situation of the crisis made Rayan, the founder of GEM, start a campaign to save the environment.
I had the pleasure to interview Rayan and learn more about the group of gems that are saving Lebanon's beaches. Although the volunteers are happy to clean the environments, they are facing a lot of challenges.
"At first, the main challenge was covering the cost of our cleanups. It’s all physical effort, but you do need quite a few things such as gloves, bags, pickup trucks for the collected garbage, and water and snacks for the volunteers. It may sound like nothing, but we are a group of students, employees, parents, etc. It’s not an cheap bill."
Not only do the volunteers clean, but they also sort the waste and send them to the nearest recycling facility.
GEM cleaned many beaches so far including Ramlet El Bayda, Kfaraabida, Amchit, Tyre, Jnah’s Saint Simon and Saint Michel beaches. This week, the group is off to Jiyyeh they’re joining forces with JCE Lebanon for World Clean Up Day on September 15th!
Now you might ask, are the beaches staying clean?
"We believe people litter when they see trash everywhere. I think that the cleaner the beach, the tougher it is for someone to drop trash and move on. We don’t mind going back and clean. Some of our volunteers scout the area we’ve cleaned, and if they find trash, they collect it! This just shows why I call them “GEMs” because they’re absolutely precious!"
GEM aims to clean Lebanon one beach at a time every week until the weather no longer allows it or when people stop littering on the beach. The volunteers will then start cleaning public gardens, mountains, forests, and rivers.
If you can't volunteer, there are other ways you can help.
"Help with anything that makes things easier for us. Get us trash grabbers and face masks and all those little things. If you have a media outlet, help us spread the word about this movement. If you’re on social media, click that share button. It may sound like nothing, but it helps!"
Kudos to these heroes who are putting their time and effort to make our beaches clean again! Respect!