Thousands join drive to clean Jakarta’s streets

Thousands of volunteers, including Catholics, marked World Cleanup Day on Sept. 15 by collecting garbage from more than hundred litter-prone sites in Jakarta.The two-hour event to promote a cleaner Jakarta included schoolchildren, NGOs, community groups and government agencies.They collected litter discarded at railway and bus stations, malls, hotels, tourist sites, and beaches.Jakarta produces about 7,000 tons of garbage each day, 2,000 tons of which is plastic waste.”The event was meant to tell people not to throw garbage anywhere because it causes floods and pollution,” Angela Jelita Richardson, Coordinator of Jakarta Cleanup Day told said the clean-up event began six years ago after she observed huge amount of waste in the sea in North Jakarta. She then gathered friends who had similar environmental concerns and started holding the activity annually. This year it coincided with World Cleanup DayStephanie Mareta, 14, a Catholic student, who participated in the event said, the amount of garbage littering Jakarta was alarming and that she took part in the event because she wanted to inspire people, particularly her peers, to care for environment.”It invites youth to care for their environment and not be afraid of dirty and polluted sites,” she said.Lucia Margareta, 34, who picked up trash from around a hotel, called on fellow Catholics not to wait to be told by the authorities to care for the environment.”Pope Francis has called on us to become heroes to save our earth. We must start by not dropping litter anywhere,” she said.According to Isnawa Adjim who heads the Jakarta Environment Agency, responsibility for the city’s waste problem is a collective one.”Cleanliness is not only government’s responsibility, its down to each and every one of us,” he told Cleanup Day, which started on Sept. 15, 2008 in Estonia, is a global social action program aimed at combating global solid waste problems, which includes maritime pollution.