The participation of volunteers in European Cleanup Day on Saturday, 10 May, surpassed every expectation. The initiative was instituted for the first time this year with the support of the European Commission and was coordinated in Greece by the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association-HELMEPA.
More than 4,500 individuals responded to HELMEPA’s invitation to participate and organized more than 100 beach, underwater, river bank, lake, forest, park and other cleanups of natural environs across the country. The participation of children-members of the “HELMEPA Junior” and “HELMEPA Cadets” Programs from Kindergartens, Primary and High Schools around Greece, was especially substantial.
Participants were all given detailed instructions to do with the organisation of their clean-up events and the meticulous recording of of litter collected on special data sheets, so that all statistics gathered may contribute to the effective implementation of the European Union’s Marine Strategy for Good Environmental Status by the year 2020.
In the prefecture of Attica, HELMEPA in collaboration with Associate Corporate Member, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the British Embassy in Athens, the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE), the Vari-Varkiza Yacht and Athletics Club and the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HE.R.R.Co), carried out a voluntary clean up of Varkiza Beach.
In total, 150 volunteers, young and old, took part in the clean-up and included staff of RBS together with their families, officials from the British Embassy, members of the Vari-Varkiza Yacht and Athletics Club, as well as HELMEPA, MIO-ECSDE and HE.R.R.Co. staff. The presence of the volunteer divers “Loutraki Divers” gave a special touch to this Greek-British synergy who, with the suport of RBS, came to Varkiza and performed an underwater cleanup.
Throughout the entire cleanup, British Ambassador, John Kittmer, enthusiastically helped in the cleanup efforts. In welcoming the volunteers, the Ambassador thanked HELMEPA and RBS for the initiative and noted that it is activities such as these that unite three elements that we all must meet head-on with passion; the marine environment, the responsible management and recycling of our litter and volunteering.