Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. We in Lebanon tend to shrug and think that environmental problems can always wait. We don’t think about it very much, and frankly, we don’t know much about it.  We also don’t even know (or care!) where there has been so little progress in this domain. Let us take a look at the facts.

Lebanon produces roughly 1.5 million tons of solid waste annually. That’s 4,000 tons of garbage daily.  Only 10% gets recycled. 50% of our garbage goes into established landfills. Sometimes the garbage is not even sorted, and the organic waste is not used for compost. But where does the other 40% of the garbage go? Into unofficial dumpsites. There are roughly 800 unofficial dumpsites in Lebanon.

These dumpsites are illegal. It is the responsibility of the municipality, the “baladiyeh” to close the dumpsites, but they do not. Part of the reason for this is that these municipalities are broke and do not have the facilities to address this issue. As such, the garbage just piles up and up.  Sadly, this is not the only reason. When a public initiative starst to build a solid waste management plan, it appears as though our sectarianism reaches our garbage. Christians will not accept to treat Sunni garbage, who will not accept Shi’ite garbage, who not accept Druze garbage, etc. Oh no. Instead, we prefer to create illegal dump sites, throw our garbage there, and suffer the health and environmental consequences.

Lebanon, taking care of the environment does not stop at the level of our sectarian communities. It is a national responsibility. I hear people saying, “I agree with you, but tell the others!” There are no “others.” This is all of us. Do you like getting sick because of such pettiness? Do you like having your beautiful nation destroyed like this? All because of what? In whose name, in what cause? Tell me, did sectarianism ever get you anywhere? Did it get you running water and 24 hour electricity? Did it get you clean air and a clean sea? Did it get you proper waste management? DID IT!?!? When have you EVER received benefit from this system?

This is where we are right now. According to a 2002 World Bank report,  the yearly cost of environmental degradation resulting from poor solid waste management alone is estimated at ~$15 million.  Although there have been private initiatives to create solid waste management plans in Kherbet Selim, Bint Jbeil, Kfar Sir and Aytaroun, there is nothing that serves the entire country as a whole.

Lebanon, enough is enough. We need to come together and understand that there are things larger than our religious sect that affect us all. We can do it if we want to!!

For more on what it will take to fix the damage of the dumpsites, please follow this link:  http://www.ambbeirut.um.dk/en/menu/Climate/GreenNews/LEBANONSWASTEPROBLEMCOULDBECLEANEDUPFOR50MILLION.htm