Out of the ordinary

28-02-2017 10:24 AM

Mary Fikry -Antoun Milad

Goethe Institut in Cairo held a seminar titled “Out of the Ordinary” in which the ideas of recycling and reuse were discussed. Is it a prosperity or life-style alternative?
A number of figures concerned with environmental issues and recycling took part in the seminar. Among them were former Environment Minister Laila Iskander; Ezzat al-Guindy, founder of Youth Spirit Association for serving the environment; Saeed Ezz Eddin, one of Greentec for Environment Services founders and technical director of D&R; and Mostafa Wafaa’, founder of “not the school” initiative and participant in “Out of the ordinary” project.
The organisers of the seminar explained that: “Out of the ordinary is a name of a project that started in September 2016 through initiative workshops that included theoretical and interactive workshops on recycling, as well as others for children. Later, awareness projects were conducted for children about the importance of waste. These projects worked to develop specific ideas within six weeks to reach something tangible or do a work of art that shows that we can make use of waste and reuse spaces and places.”
Laila Iskander talked about changing Egyptians’ perspective about waste and recycling. She said that, currently, there was public awareness of the importance of those working in this field; “we feel more respect for them because we have seen how they clean our streets from waste and pollution. Now there is more respect and awareness for their roles and efforts. However, people are still confused about what to do in the absence of garbage collection from residential areas and homes. As for the government, it has attempted everything; in the last century they tried the traditional garbage collectors; then Egyptian then foreign companies that collect garbage. Now, there is public discontent with foreign companies. People are calling for the return of collection from residential areas and from homes. They refuse the idea of the garbage boxes in streets because garbage companies are not efficient enough in collecting waste from public garbage boxes, so waste is left in streets. And now we are at crossroads. The institutional culture of recycling is either absent or lacks the legal framework through which it can operate.”
Ezzat al-Guindy said that according to the statistics of the Ministry of Environment, cities and districts produce some 24 tons of waste annually; the average production of the individual is half-a-kilogram or some 750gm. A family of four produces on the average some 2 – 2.5kg of daily waste; 60 per cent of the waste is organic.
Saeed Ezz Eddin said that the word ‘waste’ refers to some byproduct of human activity, so human beings own them. The words ‘waste’, ‘garbage’ and ‘remnants’ have negative indications, he said. Yet as long as these remnants belong to human being they must make use of them. He referred to the importance of the State’s role in recycling.
Finally, Mostafa Wafaa’ talked about the “not the school” initiative which started with young people who participated in the January 2011 Revolution then decided to work in the field of education and increasing awareness. This group started its work in 2013 by doing research about public opinion on the problem of education and how to solve it. They concluded that the people’s opinion in this regard is very negative. After taking a training course in recycling at Goethe Institut, they started to educate children on the importance of waste and that garbage collection points can be beneficial. Accordingly, children helped “not the school” to prepare chairs and tables to form two classes from the wood thrown in garbage areas.

Watani International
28 February 2017

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