Friday, October 10, 2008

Cleaning Schinias

On Sunday, October 5th, a group of volunteers gathered to clean the beach and forest of Schinias-Marathon National Park. Under a bright blue sky and stiff winds, the group of 158 people cleaned approximately 39 stremmata (39,000 m2) of the forest and beach. By the end of the morning, 12 blue recycling bins had been completed filled with litter.

The volunteers were all ages and nationalities: Greeks, Americans, French, British, and others all participated. The group was strengthened by the enthusiastic support of the Nea Makri Sailing Club, the Panayiotopoulos School, and the Boy Scouts of America Troop 343, which collectively brought 65 students, scouts and adults to the event.

The Schinias-Marathon National Park faces grave environmental threats, as there are not enough funds or resources to properly safeguard the area. Every year, over 1 million people visit the beach, mostly Athenians coming for the day. Tonnes of garbage and refuse are left on the beach and forest, ranging from food packaging to baby diapers to rusted beach umbrellas and chairs. During the summer high season, over 1,000 cars per day enter the park, creating significant damage to the beach and dunes.

The clean-up initiative was launched and supported by a group of associations and volunteers, including

· American Community Schools of Athens, Greece
· Athenes Accueil
· Boy Scouts of America Troop 343
· College Year in Athens / DIKEMES
· Foreigners Club of Nea Makri, Marathon, Rafina and Northeastern Attica
· Marathonioi Orizontes
· ΜΙΑΦΥΣΗ International Nature Network
· Municipality of Marathon
· NAVIGATOR Consulting Group Ltd.
· Oikotrofeio Η ΖΩΗ
· Panayiotopoulos School
· Princeton Club of Greece
· Sailing Academy
· Tikki World Café & Kitchen
· US Embassy, Athens

Gr. Sarantis SA donated Sanitas plastic bags used to collect the litter. Skai 100.3 FM radio, and The Athens News provided invaluable publicity for the event. Navigator Consulting provided additional materials for the event.

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