In 1978, I took my first trip to Switzerland and was mesmerized by the clean, well-organized streets and the beautiful landscaping. Planted flower gardens, meticulously cared for yards and common spaces gave me the vision I wanted to see in my home country of Tunisia. Many other trips to European countries and the USA reinforced my desire for well-planned and organized common spaces.
My environmental work began in about 2003, gained momentum in 2008 and late in 2011, at the urging of colleagues, I formed and registered the association, POUR UNE TUNISIE PROPRE ET VERTE, FOR A CLEAN AND GREEN TUNISIA (PTPV). PTPV was formed to bring awareness to the growing problem of trash in the streets and environmental damage to Tunisia. We enlisted the participation of students, other associations and concerned citizens for the cleanup of municipalities, beaches, and other venues over the years.
My Environmental awareness actions were started in the school where I taught German. During “German Day” the students and I gave presentations on the environmental catastrophe of trash in the streets. Over three years, these presentations were so well received, the students and I wanted to take our efforts further.
This morphed into “The Mask”, media coverage of me with improperly disposed of medical waste at a local hospital. From there, we gained enhanced media coverage of our actions starting with a protest in front of the Tunisian Ministry of Environment. Our actions continued in the municipalities until we made a transition to beach clean-ups. The beach clean-ups garnered major media coverage and volunteer participation. In addition, we had the support of Tunisian activist and blogger, Lina Ben Mhenni, A Tunisian Girl.
Our clean up action, I will be the Trash Can to go Dancing#La Goulette Plage, was the first of our well-organized beach clean-ups with large participation and widespread media coverage. Due to the great success of the La Goulette action, beach clean-ups became the major focus of our efforts. These actions used our headline slogan “Keep an Eye on Our Sea” and included Women’s Day Beach Clean Up, Let’s Clean Up (3 locations), Take Action, Girl Up and many more.
Over time, our general trash clean up transitioned to plastic use reduction with actions like Nine Danke Plastik, Plastic Bag, No Thank you, Take Action, Beat Plastic, Beat the Plastic Use the Basket, Bye Bye Plastic and many others. We joined the movement, Break Free From Plastic, in 2019 and took part in the Brand Audit during one of our Keep an Eye on Our Sea beach clean-ups.
I continue the fight against environmental harm and specifically target the reduction of plastic use. Protecting our environment and educating young people to become the future stewards of environmental sustainability will always be the focus of my work.