*Cleanzine-logo-7a.jpgCleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 25th November 2021 Issue no. 994

Your industry news - first    Number 1 for Recruitment

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I'm sure we all at some time or other get mad about litter lying around... Some of us are still brave enough to tackle those that drop litter; others may well have reported fly-tippers... Many of us will have picked up litter dropped by others & binned it ourselves.

One woman, featured on the BBC website today, has gone a lot further in dealing with rubbish and she's made such a difference to her environment, that others are following suit. Now a PhD-holding octogenarian, Zeinab Mokalled - disappointed that the authorities weren't tackling the rubbish that was building up in the streets in Beirut, Lebanon, took matters into her own hands, setting up an all-woman community recycling and rubbish collection team in her village. And despite a lack of landfill sites meaning that some of the city's waste is still being thrown into the Mediterranean (she's campaigning on that one!), she's proved that DIY local initiatives can actually work, when local services fail.

As the culture dictated that the women in the household were responsible for sorting recycling and putting out the rubbish, Zeinab recruited female volunteers to go door-to-door to get the message across to the women in every house. Her friend Khadija Farhat bought a lorry and Zeinab turned her own garden into a storage area for recyclable waste. And as it wasn't likely that the 10,000 villagers would pay to have their rubbish collected, the volunteers paid for it themselves!

Some 19 years later they still do... each of 46 members of the organisation - now called 'Call of the Earth', putting in about $40 each year. Initially, they recycled glass, paper and plastic. Electronic waste is now recycled too and a paid researcher is investigating compost-making under local conditions.

Zeinab says that the only help the team has received from the authorities, after three years' work, was a gift of 300 plastic bins and some land, which enabled her to reclaim her garden. A grant from the Italian embassy paid for a warehouse. As women from two nearby villages have now set up their own initiatives (funded though, by villagers receiving the services, rather than the volunteers themselves), Zeinab must be delighted that her message is getting through that caring for the earth is our responsibility. She's proved that if the local authorities in some parts of the world can't (or won't) do their bit, all is not lost.

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Jan Hobbs

8th June 2017

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