Riyadh medical students lead desert clean-up drive

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RIYADH: The Green Team of the Medical Students’ Association at Alfaisal University recently organized a desert clean-up, clearing the popular Khararah Lake site in Riyadh.

The aim of the exercise was to eliminate plastic waste, reduce land pollution and eventually improve the overall environment in the area.

The Green Team is a student-led committee created to inspire the medical community to raise awareness and address problems associated with climate change. The committee’s aim is to apply eco-friendly solutions to preserve the natural environment in the Kingdom, promote sustainable practices and raise awareness of the effects of climate change on human health.

Sana Butt, a medical student at Alfaisal University and the head of the Green Team, spoke to Arab News about the clean-up and its significance to the community.

“Our experience was not only enjoyable but also enlightening, reinforcing our belief in the importance of inspiring others to take action in caring for our environment,” Butt said.

“By demonstrating that cleaning up can be both easy and fun, especially when done as a group activity, we aim to encourage more individuals to join in these efforts,” she added.

Butt emphasized: “I truly believe the key for an individual to make a significant impact on the environment in their daily lives is to tap into our circle of influence and inspire those around us to commit to a more green, eco-friendly, and sustainable way of living.”

The Big Clean-up, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization based in Riyadh, helped organize the social activity. It aims, through group efforts, to clean up areas of natural land, parks and deserts, with a primary focus on Riyadh city and its surrounding areas.

“People can make a significant impact on the environment by implementing simple yet effective habits into their daily lives,” said Layla Raddaoui, one of the participants and a third-year medical student at Alfaisal University.

She added: “Adopting sustainable practices such as reducing, reusing and recycling can greatly minimize waste generation and conserve resources. An excellent example of this is the simple act of switching to a reusable water bottle instead of using single-use plastic ones.

“During the clean-up event at Khararah Lake, it was striking to see the substantial amount of litter consisting of discarded plastic water bottles,” she said.

Khararah Lake, southwest of the Saudi capital, is surrounded by dunes of golden sand, making it a fantastic destination for family trips into the desert. The site attracts visitors and is a popular location for locals to enjoy camping trips, especially during the rainy season.

Activities people enjoy at Khararah Lake include horse riding, camping, participating in walking tours and riding camels at the beautiful desert oasis.

The Green Team plans to extend its outreach beyond the campus community and into the public sector to further educate and engage a wider audience on environmental sustainability and its effect on society as a whole.