JEDDAH: Volunteers from a local tourism group recently cleared heaps of garbage from hiking trails in Asfan as part of their social responsibility commitments, and to ensure a pristine environment for outdoor enthusiasts.
Asfan is a small city surrounded by hiking trails running through its unique terrain and striking rock formations, making it a favorite destination for people living in Jeddah.
The cleanup was undertaken by Earth Trails, a company licensed by the Saudi Tourism Ministry, that specializes in hiking tours and trips around the Kingdom.
Dr. Shadi Badawood, the general manager of Earth Trails, said: “Natural trails in Saudi Arabia need more attention by all nature enthusiasts and the public.” This initiative would hopefully inspire people to keep the country’s natural spaces clean, he said.
Earth Trails’ members collected more than 4,000 plastic bottles, over 1,000 aluminum cans, and a significant number of glass shards. Badawood said plastic takes 450 years to decompose, aluminum 80 years, and glass one million years.
“It is part of our responsibility to take the initiative to clean up these trails, and encourage other individuals to follow in our steps,” Badawood said. Many people do not realize how much they are harming the environment by littering, he said.
Around 25 volunteers participated in the initiative. Badawood said he was pleased with the turnout and hopes the next event will attract more participants.
“We do have a number of volunteering members who really love nature and we admire their actions (to) take care of the environment, and we encourage them to learn new ways to sustain the ecosystem around us,” said Sarah Fida, volunteer coordinator at Earth Trails.
Muath Al-Ahmadi, a volunteer, said: “I’m a nature enthusiast and I believe that one of the most significant points about the cleanup initiatives is awareness. The participation in such programs with hiking groups is a big step towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly life.” Seeing the amount of waste on the trails should make people “rethink” their consumption, Al-Ahmadi added.
Another volunteer, Yousef Albouq, said: “When I joined … I felt excited and happy. I think events like this will contribute to reducing waste, and I hope such initiatives of Earth Trails will … raise people’s awareness of putting trash in the right place.”
He said those who willingly contributed their time showed how committed they are to protecting the environment.