Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star

SIDON, Lebanon: Students from a local school in Sidon have built an environmentally friendly boat made of recycled materials, as part of a city-wide initiative to promote a cleaner environment.

Students from the Environmental Club at Al-Iman High School Thursday sailed off Sidon’s coast in a small boat of their own design.

The youngsters created the vessel from plastic bottles and cork boards in order to send an environmental message that urges an end to pollution and inspires a focus on recycling and reusing waste.

The project is part of the “Saida 2020 Environmentally Friendly” campaign launched by the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development, the Sidon Municipality and members of the community.

It took a week to construct the 2-meter boat, using nearly 200 empty plastic bottles collected from the students’ homes.

“Plastic needs a lot of time to disintegrate, which can pollute the soil,” explained project supervisor Mohammad Fawwaz.

“We are working on spreading an [environmentally friendly] culture in homes and generalizing it among the parents,” Fawwaz added.

Student Mohammad Markiz, who participated in the boat’s construction, said that the ideas about environmental protection taught in school would be disseminated to the rest of society.

“How beautiful it is to take care of the environment; our generation is living in a polluted environment that’s inflicting heavy damage on humans and messing with nature.”

He added that it’s time to find alternatives that are pollution-free in order to create “an environmental society par excellence.”

“What we’re doing here in the school halls – acquiring an environmental consciousness – we’re working on transporting this to our families and societies,” Markiz added.

Osama Arnaout, the program coordinator of the “Saida 2020 Environmentally Friendly” campaign said he hoped that with such activities the capital of the south would become an environmentally friendly city.

“The civil society [must be] the basis of any successful initiative, activity or program because this human drive will later be responsible for its preservation,” Arnaout said.

The Al-Iman High School has taken up other environment projects as well, explained Kamel Kozbar, the school’s principal and a member of the municipal council.

In addition to working on the boat, students have been cleaning and planting in neighborhoods near the school.

“We hope that this positive [trend] will continue [until] it covers all neighborhoods of the city of Sidon,” Kozbar said.

Al-Iman High School students also cleaned the shoreline by the Rafik Hariri Sports Stadium and other nearby coastal areas to accompany the launch of the boat.

Khaled Hasan, who is responsible for the Environmental Club at the school, said the activities would create more environmentally aware students, and help make them feel more responsible for their city.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 23, 2015, on page 2.