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World Environment Day in Bonn: Participants clean up along the Rhine in Beuel

World Environment Day in Bonn : Participants clean up along the Rhine in Beuel

Lots of initiatives in Bonn were calling for more climate justice on World Environment Day this Saturday. Organisers put up information stands with art activities along the waterfront in Beuel and also held a clean-up campaign.

It is five to twelve. Four men dressed in black are carrying a coffin to the rotunda by the China ship. It is the symbolic burial of fossil fuels, accompanied by heavy cello music. “Put a end to fossil energies! Stop coal!” a woman sounds through the megaphone. Passers-by stop and marvel at the arts project. This event marked the opening of the 50th World Environment Day along the promenade in Beuel on Saturday.

More than 20 initiatives from the region, including representatives from Greenpeace and the environmental movement ‘Parents For Future’, celebrated the worldwide campaign day this weekend along the river Rhine. Information stands stretched from the Kennedy bridge to Limperich, attracting plenty of visitors to learn more about waste avoidance, sustainable nutrition and other climate topics. Local issues on World Environment Day included biodiversity and urban gardening, as well as protesting against the expansion of the A565 motorway.

The alliance of environmental initiatives took a stance for climate protection with performance art, speeches and a campaign to clean up the Rhine. The event also called for Bonn to be the first German city to join the initiative for a ‘Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty’. Organiser Sandra Prüfer is convinced that “we can make the transformation to a climate and socially just world.” Together with the other environmentalists, she is calling for a more sustainable use of limited resources and more social justice under the slogan “Restoring ecosystems”.

A central theme on World Environment Day 2021 is the avoidance of plastic waste. BonnOrange rubbish bags were handed out at several stations along the banks of the Rhine for anyone wanting to take part in the clean-up campaign. However, the volunteer litter pickers, many of whom were children, probably did not find much litter, says actor Daniel Breitfelder. After his line of work was crippled by the pandemic, he was looking for a meaningful way to occupy his time and at the same time wanted to do something for the environment. This is why he has been collecting rubbish along the Rhine every day for the past six months whilst out jogging - in a colourful cowboy costume. “I also wear special cowboy boots over my running shoes. Many walkers are puzzled by the outfit and approach me. I think this is a good way to draw attention to the issue of environmental protection and raise awareness of our plastic consumption,” says Breitfelder. To prevent even more plastic waste from entering the oceans via rivers, and to make such clean-up campaigns superfluous at some point in the future, he said, the most important thing is to produce less plastic.

“Such issues were never really my thing,” says Jean-Denis Heuper, who happens to be walking along the Rhine in Beuel at noon. “But I think it's great how the people here are doing something for the generations after us,” praises the 22-year-old. He wants to leave behind a clean environment for his children too, he says, and so every one of us has to do something for this.

(Original text: Abir Kassis, Translation: Caroline Kusch)