Students raise environmental awareness with beach clean-up

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The volunteers in the beach clean-up
The volunteers in the beach clean-up

Despite their young age, 60 American Community School (ACS) students set an admirable example to adults by recently volunteering to clean-up Kavouri beach in Vouliagmeni, Greece in the continuing fight for marine environmental protection.

Following a successful clean-up last April and within the framework of the 2012 International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) campaign, the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association – HELMEPA, US Embassy Athens volunteers, and ACS students combined forces again to tackle a second beach clean-up giving everyone the opportunity to assess the impact on the environment following four months of intensive use by beachgoers.

Besides the ACS students and their teachers, participants also included 25 US Embassy officials and divers from the Athina Diving Center who performed an underwater clean-up of the area. Present at the event were the Captain of the local Port Authority and representatives of the Municipality of Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni and of Anatolia College, which is organizing a similar activity in Thessaloniki tomorrow (Friday)

The event started with a welcoming address by US Ambassador Daniel B Smith who expressed his appreciation to the volunteers for attending and participating in what he termed a “unique opportunity to celebrate the ICC campaign together” and continuing the “outstanding” work HELMEPA has done over 30 years to protect the marine environment. 

“Greece’s beaches and its oceans are not just a national treasure, they’re a local treasure and we’re delighted to be able to play our part in helping protect this very delicate ecosystem from man-made damage,” he said.

On behalf of HELMEPA, former Chairman of the Association and current Board member Nicky Pappadakis welcomed the participants stressing the significance of such symbolic actions, which are vital for securing a bright future. Addressing the ACS students in particular, he wished them the best of luck stating they were “an inspiration for all”.

Following the remarks, the Ambassador and his wife, Diane, pulled on their gloves and joined HELMEPA’s Director General, Dimitris Mitsatsos, in the clean-up effort.

Overall, in terms of marine litter found, the beach was in a better condition  compared to April. Nevertheless, volunteers filled 40 large plastic bags with all types of litter, primarily plastics such as lids/caps, straws, bags and food wrappers, all of which which are associated with coastal recerational activities, as well as large amounts of cigarette ends. Twenty five of the large plastic bags containing recyclables were collected by the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Coorporation and forwarded to the closest recycling unit.