Don’t litter: A public-spearheaded campaign to leave no trace in the nature

July 10, 2016 - 18:9

TEHRAN — With the beginning of any public holidays in the country, environmentalists, resort managers, and locals often voice their concerns over the substantial amount of garbage strewed around beaches, riversides, forests, etc.

Recently, the public and those who are genuinely worried about the environment have been trying to display the ugliness and hideousness of these once-pristine places by sharing photos of garbage-filled places on social networks.

Some others take photos of their cleaning camps in various natural sites and hope to foster this culture among other visitors and encourage them to bag up their own trash while traveling, instead of leaving them in rivers or forests. 

Coming after “drive between the lines” (a campaign promoting obeying traffic rules by driving between the lines) and “car free Tuesdays” (an environmental campaign encouraging the public not to use their cars on Tuesdays), “don’t litter” is a public-led campaign exhorting outdoor ethics by encouraging people not to leave garbage in the nature or on streets.

The campaign first came on stream on twitter concurrent with the World Environment Day, June 5, 2016 by journalist Elham Adimi.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Adimi explained that she got the idea of the campaign when she saw a pile of garbage dumped in the ditch alongside Valiasr Street which runs from southern Tehran to northern Tehran.

“It was not something new and I’ve seen that scene before but that night I decided to tweet it and I used the hashtag #dar_khyaban_ashghal_narizim (literally meaning #don’t_litter_on the street),” Adimi said.

She went on to say that the hashtag was very well received and that she shortened it to #ashghal_narizim (meaning #don’t_litter) since then. 

“I continued with sharing the pictures I had taken over my trips from the forests or rivers polluted by waste and others started to do the same thing as well,” she noted.

Adimi said that the campaign has now 50 members, including environmentalists and actors. She further expressed hope that she could also earn Tehran Municipality’s support for the campaign.

She additionally said that the campaign is now active on twitter with na_be_zobale (meaning no to garbage) and have a telegram channel with the same account name. “It is also active on Instagram with ‘nabezobale’ account”, she noted, adding, “But unfortunately we don’t have much time to update those accounts.”

In response to a question about the campaign’s goals Adimi said that “what we seek is to encourage the public not to litter in the first place.”

“Simultaneously, we want to promote waste segregation, and in the next step we are planning on fostering a culture to produce less garbage,” she highlighted.

She continued, “Unlike many other campaigns that focus on collecting garbage from natural sites (such as rivers and forests) we believe that if we don’t litter any garbage, there is no need to collect it and this is our biggest difference: prevention.”

On the subject of financial supports, Adimi stated that what they need more than financial support is advertisement. “Certainly, money can help us publicize the campaign, but it doesn’t mean that the campaign would fail without it.”

“We are doing this voluntarily and in my opinion creating a culture is the primary way of achieving a goal,” she suggested.

Public-led campaigns are far more effective as the public feel they are a part of it and try to promote it, she added.

“I’ve tried to make connections with organizations and other active groups in the field of environment and with the short number of people who are assisting us we have tried to get the best results,” she noted.

“Our targets are the people who all have smart phones and even in the most remote areas they get the most updated information and this a favorable opportunity for creating a culture and developing it,” she stated, adding, “This requires arrangement, but sadly that’s what officials usually miss out.”


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