In 1986, Linda Maraniss and Kathy O'Hara from the United States started a movement, reaching out to locals to cleanup beaches and record the items collected to identify ways to eradicate ocean pollutants and trash in the future.
The response was overwhelming and the initiative became an annual event for more than 30 years, garnering participants and volunteers from more than 100 countries to clean up coasts each year on September 15th.
This year, Egypt took part as the European Union (EU) Delegation to Egypt commemorated the day by organizing a cleanup in Alexandria's Saraya beach, in collaboration with the Alexandria governorate and Greenish, an environmental business founded in March 2017 that aims to design and implement sustainable environmental solutions to schools.
Before the event, a series of preparations took place, as the EU and Greenish launched a campaign on social media platforms with the aim of raising awareness on recycling and how to minimize wasting water and energy, as well as further highlighting the risks posed on marine life by dumping plastic materials.
The number of participants involved in the clean-up surpassed 300 from various NGOs and initiatives concerned with the environment, as well as some members of the EU delegation in Egypt. Each participant received a reusable bag to use as an alternative to plastic bags.
In a statement released by the EU delegation in Egypt, Deputy Ambassador of the EU Sandra De Waele referred in her welcoming notes to the fact that 85% of the beach litter is made of plastic which takes many years to decompose.
“Today’s event is a way to encourage every one of us to take action against plastic pollution which has adverse effects on marine life, the environment and our health,” she said.
Asking participants to further promote the message in society, Waele underlined the EU commitment to support Egypt in combating climate change, with funds and grants totaling up to 700 million Euros, mainly in supporting factories to reduce water and air pollution as well as working with governorates in Egypt on solid waste management programs.
At the end of September, the EU will celebrate Climate Action Week in Egypt through a number of events to raise awareness on the issues of climate change.