Let’s join hands for the sake of our forests.
The weather is warm, the stars are shining, and the campgrounds are open! It’s the perfect time to go for a road-trip and set up for camping!
This recreational outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home became popular in the early 20th century. Today, it is widely practiced in all parts of the world, where common sites include forests, commercial campgrounds, or beaches.
Nowadays, with the daily stress build up, the dense pollution, the prohibitive rise in cost of most summer activities, and not least the congestion everywhere, camping has grown into a very popular trend in Lebanon, with many youth heading to the great outdoors on the weekends instead of the city.
Many commercial campgrounds have also risen and boomed with their constant offers inviting people to join in on the fun. Even event organizers are now planning huge camping events in public forests and beaches.
A shift in the mindset away from a more passive lifestyle and towards activities that connect us with nature sounds perfect.
However, this also raises a new environmental issue that we all dread – Pollution.
Let’s take a look at how the usual camping trip looks:
You hop in the car with all your friends, you get some food, drinks, plastic disposables, your favorite hammock, maybe even your guitar, etc.
You set up the campfire, prepare the camp kitchen, and maybe even sing along to the sound of the guitar.
And by the end of the night, you find yourself gazing at the stars as you chat with your friends to the sound of crickets and coyotes from a distance.
When you’ve absorbed all the nature dose you need, you put out the fire very carefully, clean up after yourself, and head to your tent for a good night sleep. The next day usually also involves some cleaning to make sure the location is neat again.
Think everyone does the same? Think again!
Almost all of my camping trips commence with the same opening act; whether we pick a beach, a forest or a mountain for a camping location, it all comes down to this: Cleaning up after previous campers before we can set up tents of our own. This phenomenon is not limited to throwing away used napkins on the floor or some scattered tissues. No, campers often dispose off their used plates, bottles, forks and knives on the sacred camping grounds, or they just resort to burning them.
Sadly, this can take its toll on the environment and instigate pollution, also causing serious environmental threats like wildfires, especially when a fire is not put out, or glass bottles are left in the summer sun for too long.
According to researchers from the University of Colorado who analyzed all American wildfires caused between 1992 and 2012, results showed that humans caused more than 1.2 million of the 1.5 million blazes, making 84% of all wildfires.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in the USA highlights many factors that cause these incidents, most commonly glass bottles that magnify a ray of sunlight igniting grass around it, campfires that are not properly extinguished, and cigarettes that aren’t put out well.
Before carrying on, we cannot but give credit to the organizations and companies that participate in the national campaigns to clean up our Lebanese Shores, like Live Love Beirut, Operation Big Blue, Recycle Lebanon, and so many others. One such campaign took place on World Cleanup Day last September which we covered at The Wellness Project, with another recent beach clean up initiative taking place last Sunday, June 9th.
The constant efforts of these young people is truly admirable and inspiring, and gives us hope for a better tomorrow.
Photo credits: The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatarie
Unfortunately, we’ve seen this pattern before. The Lebanese beaches have been cleaned up countless times before, only to return to their polluted state shortly after the initiative has taken place. The biggest proof is how 9 months later, we’re cleaning our beaches up all over again.
So how can we fix it?
We’re all responsible for the well-being of our country and our environment to a great extent. We truly believe that change starts within each one of us individually, and from there it grows. We must continue to preserve our precious green spaces. Nature should be handled with the utmost impeccable care. It is our real home, and we certainly want to live in a clean, tidy house, right?
If you are already living in an environmentally conscious way, please continue to do so and help others to understand the importance of doing the same. Plant this seed of awareness among everyone you know.
Before concluding, we must take into account that preserving our beautiful land means preserving our health as well. We must remember that not all people have the privilege of having access to beautiful beaches and mountains, so next time you decide to take a short vacation or to rough it up in a camping site for the weekend, don’t forget your garbage bags, and remember that a healthy environment equals a healthy life!
We hope we have inspired you to keep doing what is right for our habitat every time you are out in nature!