NEWS | April 7, 2018

Soldiers join in Kuwait beach cleanup

By Staff Sgt. Douglas Roles Task Force Spartan

Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion (HHBN), 28th Infantry Division, and the 38th Sustainment Brigade joined staff from the U.S. embassy in Kuwait, the Kuwait Dive Team and concerned local citizens in a beach cleanup near Kuwait City April 7. The Saturday morning effort at Anjafa Beach saw volunteers don gloves and spread out across the sand, trash bags in hand, to pick up what amounted to a truckload of plastic bottles, bits of metal and old tires.
 
 
"Every day, we should be thinking about preserving the environment..."

The group of soldiers, civilians and children completed what is the latest beach combing in an ongoing struggle to protect marine habitat. This gathering served as the group’s Earth Day (April 22) event for 2018 and followed the theme “End Plastic Pollution.”

U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman welcomed the volunteers. He said local events, like the Anjafa cleanup, can have a big impact when duplicated across the globe.

“Every day we should be thinking about preserving the environment and what we can do, even in very small ways, to keep our neighborhood and the places we love to visit clean,” Silverman said.

The cleanup was part of the Every Soldier an Ambassador (ESA) program and provided a morale-boosting trip that took Soldiers off post and into the local community for a common cause. Following the trash pickup, participating soldiers were given the opportunity to have lunch at a local restaurant complex before bussing back to Camp Arifjan. More than 30 soldiers volunteered.

“The U.S. embassy here invited Task Force Spartan Soldiers to participate,” said Maj. Amanda Harrah, 28th Infantry Division deputy civil affairs officer. “It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with our civil and military partners in Kuwait and strengthen friendships while doing our part for the environment.”

 

"Worldwide, plastic is a problem..."

Dr. Dari Al-Huwail, international relations officer for the Kuwait Dive Team, made a brief presentation to the volunteers before they hit the beach. He told the group that discarded plastics take hundreds of years to break down and pose a threat to marine life both as whole items and in pieces.

Aggregated together plastic threatens reef habitat; micro-plastics can be ingested by aquatic animals in the food chain. 

“Worldwide, plastic is a problem,” Al-Huwail said. “What you can do is reduce the amount of plastic you use in general and recycle.”

The Kuwait Dive Team was established in the aftermath of environmental damage wrought on the country during the 1990 invasion and occupation.

Since then, working with private and public groups, the team has seen approximately 15,000 volunteers lend a hand. Five years ago the team started a Mobile Beach Cleanup Unit.

The cleanup had a festive atmosphere, with participants scattering in all directions to see who could pick up the most – and most interesting – items. The community activism group which calls itself “MW6INY” lends energy and enthusiasm to what can be a physically demanding task.

“We usually work from September to the end of April, before it gets too hot. We find the weirdest things,” Latifa Al-Wazzan, MW6INY founder, said.

“But what’s really beautiful is when volunteers come out, see the amount of pollution and want to pitch in.”

The community group’s aim is to raise awareness and the feeling of accountability amongst Kuwait citizens. MW6INY believes that highly motivated and passionate individuals are the key to the success and growth of any nation.

“Kuwait has been very active in choosing beaches for cleanup, ever since the 1980s,” Al-Wazzan said. “Fish die-offs have also driven the cleanups.”