Ideas from the children of Lentas for waste disposal

Have you been thinking about the question “What can we do?” about properly disposing of our rubbish so that the collection sites remain clean – and so that our rubbish doesn’t pollute the land and sea.

It certainly looks like it, because at minimum, one week after the children’s “Rubbish Warrior” came to its first exhibit site, the rubbish collection place between Papadoyiannis and Lentas has looking MUCH better. Thank you!!!!!

Now here are 14 ideas from the children (and their teachers) to help keep the rubbish collection sites clean – and even more importantly, prevent our rubbish from filling the landscape and the sea.

  1. Always put rubbish in bags (not boxes!). Make sure the bags are closed /tied. (This is because: open bags – or paper cartons filled with rubbish stink, the rubbish spills out inside the bins or onto the ground – and then gets blown away along the road, into the river beds – and then can end up in the sea.
  2. Be especially careful when bagging glass! (An idea: collect your glass bottles and jars separately and either “double bag” them before disposal– or find a way to recycle or reuse these.) No one wants to walk on or drive over broken glass.
  3. Put bags in the bins! When the bins are full, please put your rubbish bags INSIDE the fenced areas (at sites where this is available). PLEASE: take a few extra steps and start from the “back” of the fenced area. Doing this little step leaves space for other people to bring their rubbish inside the area, too – and helps the sanitation workers when they come to collect our garbage.
  4. Get more rubbish into the bins! These photos show what the children mean: In the first one, you see the children each holding up one piece of rubbish. Then they put the seven pieces of rubbish into a rubbish bag – and as you can see, the bag is full! So please: crush plastic bottles, aluminium/metal tins and break down boxes before you bag and bin them. This simple step only costs you a little bit of time – and it REALLY works! (Crushing bottles, boxes and cans is something children really enjoy doing – so if you have children, this might be a household chore for them!)
  5. Here’s another idea: Create less rubbish! These photos show one way to do that.
    Instead of always getting plastic shopping bags that you then throw away, try reusable ones. You can also try to buy fresh vegetables and fruits that haven’t been pre-packaged in plastic bags or containers.
  6. Recycle! It is not easy to do this here (and sometimes almost impossible at the moment.) BUT: Consider collecting recyclable materials (paper, glass, plastic, aluminium cans, Styrofoam, old but still usable clothing/shoes, etc.) and taking these to collection points in Moires or Heraklion.) Perhaps we can start a pilot project and try collecting just one type of recyclable material (plastic bottles? aluminium cans?) We could sell these materials in Heraklio, for example, and use the money for community projects. (Recent prices for such: .15 cents per kilo of plastic water bottles – and .50 cent per kilo of aluminium cans.)  

    Did you know studies show that almost 30% of our rubbish is made out of organic materials (food rests and garden/tree cuttings)? So maybe you can try not putting food scraps, peelings etc. in the bins (these stink – and attract pests!) Think about trying to compost – or use leftovers to feed your own (and stray) animals – or give them to a farmer for their animals. (Maybe one day soon, we can create a community compost area!).
  7. And please: putting bags of (or loose) branches or other garden cuttings/dead leaves, etc. just take up space in the bins unnecessarily. The best solution is compositing them, but if this isn’t possible for you, alternatives are: putting these in river beds outside of the villages or collecting them and then burn them safely on a windless day (outside the villages.)
  8. And by the way: the bodies of dead animals (or parts of them) do not belong in the rubbish (or compost). Please bury or discard animal carcasses far away from the villages and the sea.
  9. Construction/building waste (concrete, floor, wall and roof tiles, old doors, windows, etc. should not be disposed of at the collection sites. Proper disposal of such is a problem that was too big for the children. Do you have ideas? (One the teachers had was: much of this kind of material can be used to help shore up dirt roads – or fill in large holes caused by winter rains.)
  10. Properly disposing of scrap metal and large household items (mattresses, appliances, furniture, etc.) is another big problem. It would be great to have an extra container for such things in the future. For now, though, can you think about another solution (instead of throwing such things in river beds, down mountainsides or piling them up outside the collection sites). It is possible to bring such items to special collection sites in Moires and Heraklion - but that takes time and effort. Ask yourself if someone else can use the item, can it be repaired – or at minimum, can you break it down into smaller pieces? Of all the difficulties we all have with what to do with our rubbish, this issues is perhaps the hardest to solve. Your ideas are welcome! (Maybe someone would like to open a second-hand shop?)
  11. Please, please, please: Don’t be tempted to set fire to rubbish collection sites. This is dangerous! Fire spreads quickly, burning garbage (especially plastic!) stinks and pollutes the air (and people’s lungs) and can destroy the few bins we have left. And as the children pointed out: an out of control fire can threatens homes, businesses and lives!
  12. Please do not throw rubbish (especially cigarette butts) out of your car or truck windows! This may keep your car clean – but litters the place that we live in. (Try keeping a small plastic bag in the vehicle and put things like plastic cups, chip packets, candy wrappers, empty cigarette packets, etc. inside this bag. At the end of your trip, close the bag and put it in a bin.) AND: USE YOUR ASHTRAYS!
  13. When you go to the beach, have a picnic or other outing, please take all your rubbish with you. And smokers: please do not leave your cigarette butts in the sand or throw them in the water. Get a “beach” ashtray – or make one from an old tin, glass or bottle filled with a bit of sand.) It takes up to two years for the end of a filter cigarette to disintegrate.)
  14. The children also learned that it is okay to pick up other people’s rubbish. When you see litter (plastic bottles, cans, paper, etc.) at the beach, along the roads, etc. think about picking up a few pieces and disposing of them properly. (One idea that has come up since our Rubbish Warrior project started is: can we organize community clean-up days? A great idea, let’s do it!)
  15. Thank you again for taking the time to think about the question “What can we do?” The next question is: Can you (will you) try some of the suggestions above (especially numbers 1 - 4 and 10)? If you can do even one of these things, than you are on your way to becoming a rubbish warrior, too! We leave you a few more photos of the rubbish warrior, including this one of the children taking their giant “Poseidon” to the first exhibit place on Saturday 13 June 2015.

    The Rubbish Warriors: Odysseus, Irini, Dimitra, Manolis, Eliza, Fiona, Jonas, Jason and Gina with “Poseidonas”.