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Nature lovers ‘clean as they hike’

By Camille Dupire - Mar 04,2018 - Last updated at Mar 04,2018

Teams of five people collect garbage during a hike between Rumaymeen and Salt on Friday (Photo courtesy of ECO Hikers)

AMMAN — Nature lovers on Friday went on a cleaning hike, as part of the ECO Hikers “Clean as We Hike” weekly events aimed at safeguarding Jordan’s natural sites and protecting the environment.

“Because we love Jordan, and because we love nature and enjoy it, we should let others enjoy it as well,” said Nader Manaseer, co-founder of ECO Hikers, stressing that “me and my friends have been hiking and camping regularly in Jordan for years now. Too often, we noticed previous hikers had discarded waste and garbage irresponsibly in these beautiful places”.

A week ago, the young man officially launched the ECO Hikers, pushed by desire to see his country rid of garbage.

In the Greater Amman Municipality alone, some 1.02 million tonnes of waste were collected in 2016, amounting to 2,800 tonnes per day. Sites outside the city are even more affected by this trash overflow, as fewer official cleaning services are implemented outside major cities.

“Our aim is to organise hikes with the primary objective to clean up these places and recycle the garbage responsibly while showcasing rural Jordan to local and foreign hikers,” Manaseer explained, noting that he is also thinking of starting language exchange among members and with the local communities. 

With the support of his friends and other volunteers, he organised a 9-kilometre long hiking trip, stretching from Rumaymeen to Salt. “Because everyone has a different level of fitness, we indicated beforehand the level of difficulty for the hike, so people are well prepared,” the young man said, noting that hikes will initially be limited to less than 10km. 

“Many people care for the environment, and are actually outraged by the behaviours of some people towards nature. We had an amazing surprise this Friday, when some residents from the municipality joined us to clean with our group after they saw us picnicking,” Manaseer recalled.

One of the participants of the hike, 24-year-old Mustafa Abdo, said: “ECO Hikers are very committed to their beliefs in spreading awareness about Mother Nature, recycling and the fact that Earth doesn’t belong to us. Nader is a highly motivated and active person who never doubted that a small of group of thoughtful, committed nature citizens can really change the world.” The remark was echoed by Gaelle Sundelin, a French working in Amman, who noted “it is very inspiring to see the youth come together, both nationals and expats, to preserve their natural heritage and ensure the best experience for hikers”.

At the beginning of the hike, the group is divided between teams of five people, each assigned a specific category of trash to collect. “One person collects plastic, another one glass, carton [cardboard], aluminum cans and other trash,” Manaseer explained, noting the “overwhelming response” to his initiative. 

All the garbage collected during the hikes was distributed to Alaa Ziadeh, founder of Ziadat4recycling, a local organisation that uses thrown out materials to create trendy, eco-friendly furniture.

For Jordan Jones, a 20 year-old Arabic student, “I think it’s a fantastic initiative because it’s very difficult to find ways to recycle in Jordan. As someone very environmentally minded, it was great for me to find out about ECO hikers.”

Planning to hold these hikes every weekend, the ECO Hikers are now looking for a sponsor to provide them with the rides to the cleaning location and the basic cleaning supplies.

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