Keep Kos Clean – Veronica Boland…
Keeping Kos Clean …
We could all say that it is the job of Council or somebody else, personally there are many things that need fixing and if we wait and don’t lead by example nothing will ever change. I have lived here almost 7 years and one of the things I was disgusted by was the sight of rubbish everywhere on such a naturally rich and beautiful island. After organising a few small clean-ups in late 2011 a few volunteers who attended suggested that we should set up a webpage or a Facebook page for people who were interested in helping keep our local areas clean and promote litter awareness. So started Keep Kos Clean – a network of volunteers and individuals with a genuine interest in maintaining the beauty and ecological diversity of Kos island.
I have had strangers approach me in supermarkets and while out walking and ask how they can help – Greek young people who genuinely want to help but just did not know where to find the information. As a community of foreigners we can bring our ideas and our will to action to complement living in Greece. We have chosen to live here and it is our choice how we want to live – amongst a litter strewn area or help make a change. There are always cynics and negative attitudes with regard to anything new or different. However, in general we have had a very positive response from the community, the media and the Kos Municipal Council. We were given the opportunity to relay our concerns as a network of representatives from all over the island to Council (the Vice-Mayor and anti-vice Mayor) at a constructive meeting on 01 March 2013 that we care and want to work as one community – one island. At the meeting, the proposed clean-ups were discussed and so too were the issues of installation of more rubbish bins and anti-litter signs and the problem of dilapidated and abandoned buildings in Kardamena.
Kos Municipal Council last year cleaned up twice all around the Lambi area towards Marinopolis and also twice this year have cleaned Konario park and a local resident advised that they also recently cleaned up local problem dumping sites.
I am very proud to be part of a team of volunteers associated with Keep Kos Clean. Thank you to all who have hosted and attended clean-ups to date. Personally I have gained so much from being involved with the clean-ups. I have visited beautiful places on our island and met wonderful, wonderful people with positive attitudes to life and local knowledge of our beautiful island. We have also ‘stirred’ the interest of national radio stations and newspapers that want to know about our work. I look forward to meeting in person more of our members and exchanging ideas. Thank you for people contributing photographs of problem sites, clean-ups, attending clean-ups. Here is a little update on our clean-ups for just this month.
The Mastihari Clean up event took place on Sunday 10 March 2013 and was hosted by Kathryn Angelise and Rita Neske. Approximately 47 people took part and 80 bags of rubbish and another six loads of 4×4 trucks of other rubbish including chairs, wood etc were collected in Mastichari.
It was especially good to see so many children involved. Thank you to the Politistikos Syllogos, and the local priest Pappa Nichola and the Sunday school children – what an inspiration this little community is. People turned up to offer help with their 4×4 vehicles and a local farmer arrived with his 4-wheel drive tractor and trailer, these men were a fantastic help transporting bulky items and the rubbish bags from the beach to the Dimos truck. Everybody just got on with the job at hand and there were volunteers not only from the Mastichari area but also from Antimacheia, Agios Nektarios, Lambi, Messaria, Zipari and Zia who travelled to lend a hand.
The children all gathered bottle tops to donate to the hospital in Kos who is collecting bottle tops towards purchasing a wheelchair. Well done to everyone involved especially the children who did a fantastic job and with such enthusiasm – Bravo!
In Kefalos, on the same day and same time as the Mastichari clean-up – 10 March 2013 starting at 10.00 am, a small but intrepid team of volunteers led by Joyce Dramountanis busily cleaned the main Kefalos Beach – what an unstoppable team. They were few in number (approximately 15 people) but mighty in spirit and action. After almost four (4) hours of good teamwork, a whopping 96 big bags of garbage was collected including a dried up cow! A lot of the rubbish on the beach was washed in from the sea. Job well done guys and it was great to meet up with lovely folks from the ‘other’ side of this lovely island.
Moving onto the third clean-up of the island … Tingaki Beach clean-up from Irina Beach Hotel towards Karnagio Beach. This clean-up was held on Sunday 17 March 2013 and was hosted by Effie Manousaka. A total of 30 volunteers attended the Tingaki Clean-up and came from the Tingaki area and from as far as Kos town and Zia. Fantastic teamwork and 68 bags of rubbish collected and other larger items. The President of the Asfendiou community and the Manager of the Cleaning Department with Kos Municipal Council attended the clean-up collecting rubbish with his 4×4 vehicle.
In Kardamena, a team of volunteers got together on Wednesday 20 March 2013, and even though it was a bit windy the folks there managed to clean the beach road and remove the plastic bottles from the wire fence. They collected 78 bags of litter – not bad for 3 hours work. The Kardamena community have always been very active in community cleanups in previous years and have more plans to give Kardamena a ‘facelift’, for example a poster and paint project – where they intend to put up posters from the Greek Tourism Board on the facades of closed and abandoned shops and also to paint areas that need a little TLC. Well done Kardamena and keep up the good work and see you at the next clean-up.
On Friday 22 March 2013 a group of volunteers arrived at Konario Park in Lagoudi, gloves on and ready for action. What we found was a very pleasant surprise – a litter clean park … and following Clean Monday with many visitors to the park … The Council had cleaned up the park prior to Clean Monday and had returned to clean the park again and other problem rubbish dumping areas in Lagoudi.
What to do??? One of the volunteers suggested we clean from Asomatos towards Zia. We had a fantastic team (small in number about 12 people but mighty in spirit – like the Spartans we even had a young Leonidas with us). We cleaned from Asomatos village towards Zia – turnoff for Kefalovrisi (along the road and dry river bed which was full of rubbish) – it was ‘treacherous’ terrain in parts but the gallant litter busters did not let the steep and slippery terrain defeat their purpose. We gathered 10 bags of rubbish – may not sound like much but the litter was strewn in some almost inaccessible locations but with a lot of climbing and teamwork we succeeded.
We had people from Germany, Holland, England, Wales, Ireland, and a lovely visitor to our island from France. We had three young helpers (one of them is a stuntman in the making!)
I would also personally like to thank all the representatives that have attended clean-up events and meetings especially our meeting with the Vice Mayor and the Anti-Vice Mayor (Head of the Environment and Cleaning Department) organised by Mr. Michael Pastrikos, Manager of Kos Marina. Thank you to Kathryn Angelise (‘Kathryn’ Kos Travel and Event Management) for creating the Keep Kos Clean posters for this year’s events and helping with promoting the events. Also a special thank you to Caroline Zouni who has come with me to visit hotels in Lambi, for attending the clean-ups and contacting Galathris Natur for their kind donation of bottles of water for the volunteers. Also to Alison Carne for her persistent efforts regarding the issue of graffiti and Alison has received paint from Kos Municipal Council to paint over graffiti. Thank you also to the Friends of the Animals and Environment Kos (ZOEK) for their kind co-operation, the donation of gloves and for actively participating in the clean-ups.
We are not finished yet for this month – a big clean-up is scheduled for Lambi beach from Iberostar Hotel towards Diamond Deluxe Hotel and maybe further towards Faros – possibly next Sunday 31 March 2013, we are awaiting confirmation of this date and will advise shortly.
In conclusion, one motto that I like is to ‘think globally, act locally’ and I would highly recommend to all watch the Chris Jordan trailer ‘Midway’ available on You Tube – when we throw something away, there is no away.
* More photographs and information about Keep Kos Clean