Ghinwa Obeid| The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Leila Zahid and her colleague have created what they call a “plastic fall,” using numerous plastic bottles to create a sculpture resembling a massive waterfall. The piece was displayed in Downtown Beirut Friday at the Green Festival, held to mark World Environment Day.

The sculpture aims to bring people face-to-face with the number of plastic bottles they use and to draw attention to environmental issues such as littering and recycling. Nearby, bottle caps were mosaicked together into a large fish, intended to raise awareness of marine pollution.

The Green Festival was organized by G NGO under the patronage of the Environment Ministry and the UNDP, and in collaboration with Solidere. The festival kicked off Friday, and will continue over the weekend in Downtown’s Foch Allenby district. World Environment Day is celebrated internationally on June 5.

Zahid, one of the minds behind the Ana Ma Bkebb [I Don’t Litter] campaign, encouraged visitors to interact with the piece by adding their own bottles to the “plastic fall.”

She explained that the idea is for people to understand how much they contribute to pollution when they litter or throw away items that can be recycled.

“We have electricity, water and security problems that we can’t control, but this is something each one of us [can do],” Zahid said.

“If we truly love our country and we want to contribute to it, it doesn’t require much. We just need to not litter – keep it for the garbage or for the recycling.”

Zahid was just one of many environmental activists and organizations who took part in the festival.

The festival hosted a green market and stalls selling food and drink, organic products and handicrafts.

The event also featured live music, yoga, games and educational displays to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Nader Nakib, the president of G NGO, told The Daily Star that the aim of the festival was to show people that they could have fun in an eco-friendly way. He pointed out that many of the games at the event did not use electricity.

Restaurants participating in the festival were asked to create a healthy menu, and to donate leftover oil so that it can be recycled into soap.

“This time we advised [vendors] not to use anything that can’t be recycled; at the next Green Festival we will enforce it,” Nakib said. “For example, bars won’t be able to sell drinks in plastic cups; they will have to use paper cups or glass.”

Energy-saving bulbs were used to light the kiosks, and many of the exhibiting artisans practiced eco-friendly techniques, using recycled or upcycled materials in their products, according to Nakib.

Sherine Natour showcased a number of items she had made using bottle caps, including customized personal magnets and jewelery She also fashioned ornate ash trays from leftover soda cans.

“Instead of drinking [from] the can and throwing it away, you can still use it,” Natour said. “You can create art from anything.”

Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk told The Daily Star that such events raise awareness of the importance of preserving the environment, and said the issue was very important for Lebanon.

“For Lebanon it’s a must – we have lots of violations when it comes to the environment, and as you know, we have had lots of trouble with pollution.”

The minister said that pollution ultimately bites back against those who contribute to the problem, as they eventually become victims of their own wrongdoing.

“We believe that by creating this awareness campaign, they will be more aware of their situation,” Machnouk said.

“We have to give something back to our children and grandchildren. Otherwise it [becomes] a world that we can’t pass on to other generations,” the minister added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 06, 2015, on page 2.