June 3 is International Day to Reduce Trash. On this occasion, a number of events take place to raise awareness among the public about the importance of environmental protection and to teach ways to help reduce waste.
Within this framework, an interesting and helpful event was held on 2 June 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in the courtyard of Mesrobian College. The event, which was part of the “DOBRAG” (meaning bag in Armenian) Project, focused on the reduction, recycling and reuse of plastic bags. It also aimed at raising awareness among the inhabitants of the area on the problem of plastic bags.
As part of the DESMEEM Project, the “DOBRAG” Project is organized by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in cooperation with DESMEEM and MENA Design Research Center, the Municipality of Bourj Hammoud, Mesrobian College, and JMP–L. The project focuses on plastic bags, because a piece of plastic takes up to 400 years to decompose, the longest time compared to other materials.
The Bourj Hammoud area has been selected for this initiative because of its high population density, the existence of narrow streets where garbage collection is often difficult, the identity of its inhabitants, and the presence of a large number of artists and artisans who can contribute to the reuse of plastic bags. Bourj Hammoud has also a shopping district where the use of plastic bags is widespread.
The different meetings, which took place as part of this project, were attended by the following participants: Women participants from the JMP–L Community Development Program, representatives from Armenian scout groups (such as Homenetmen and Armenian General Benevolent Union), and students from several Armenian schools (Armenian Catholic Mesrobian High School, Saint Agnes School of Armenian Sisters of Immaculate Conception, Levon and Sophia Hagopian Armenian College, Armenian Evangelical Torosian School, and Armenian Evangelical Shamlian Tatigian Secondary School).
Prior to the June 2 event, in the above-mentioned schools, boxes had already been placed where students collected plastic bags brought from their homes.
On June 2, during a series of activities repeated on an hourly basis, each student or scout group first watched a PowerPoint presentation prepared on this occasion. In the presentation, details were given about how difficult it is for plastic bags to break down, how a large number of sea creatures die because of them, and how big is the damage the plastic bags cause to our environment. Next, the students and scouts were briefed on the project, its goals, and their role in it.
Afterwards, under the supervision of a group of artists and artisans, the students and scouts designed new objects — decorative items, belts, handbags, chairs, etc. — using the collected plastic bags. Through these activities, they became aware that they have to use as few plastic bags as possible, and learned various ways to reuse them.
As part of the “DOBRAG” Project, special boxes will be placed in the different neighborhoods of Bourj Hammoud where people will be able to collect plastic bags, which will then be given to artists or artisans who will in turn reuse them. The collected bags will also be redistributed in a systematic and pre-planned manner to different shops, again for reuse.
Through this project, both the younger generation and the inhabitants of Bourj Hammoud, will be able to contribute more actively to the protection of the environment and the cleanliness of their neighborhoods.