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‘Rhine Cleanup’ campaign in Königswinter: School children clean up Rhine riverbanks

‘Rhine Cleanup’ campaign in Königswinter : School children clean up Rhine riverbanks

The CJD Christopherus school and HSG Siebengebirge sports club collected rubbish as part of the Rhine Cleanup campaign. This resulted in piles of full rubbish bags.

“It's really shocking”. Ralf Röttgen, chairman of the HSG Siebengebirge, would never have expected to find so much rubbish along the banks of the river Rhine. The blue plastic bags full of rubbish piled up to form an imposing mountain. Participants in this year's Rhine Cleanup campaign collected this rubbish just on the 2.5 km stretch between the Niederdollendorf ferry and Clemens-August-Strasse in Königswinter. There was a lot of plastic, many bottle caps and metal parts - "Just about everything you can imagine in terms of waste and rubbish," concludes Röttgen.

The handball players were taking part in the Rhine Cleanup campaign for the first time together with the CJD Christophorus school in Königswinter - and it was a large group that set out on Saturday morning for the big clean up. A total of 100 volunteers, including many children and young people, collected what others had carelessly dropped on the banks of the Rhine or what had been washed up by the river. "There was an entire section that only hunted down cigarette butts," reports Röttgen. "Totally disgusting," thought ten-year-old Leonie: "And there are bins.” Leonie and her sisters Emma (5) and Lisa (3) only have one word for the other rubbish that collected in the bags: “Yuck.”

The participants didn't just fish small waste out of the bushes and between the stones near the banks of the river using tongs or gloves. Even an old car battery, parts of a steel beam and a giant teddy bear ended up on the rubbish heap. Everything has now been disposed of properly by the town of Königswinter.

The HSG athletes got the idea of taking part in the Rhine Cleanup campaign after running along the banks of the Rhine during their training. "Environmental protection is of central importance for us as a sports club with almost 500 active members in the valley and hills of Königswinter," says Röttgen. At the same time, the joint campaign was also intended to strengthen cooperation with the CJD school, with whom the club entered into a partnership in 2019. The "Handball macht Schule" project is not only about encouraging pupils to play sport, but also about promoting social skills. "Among other things, we want to raise awareness of our environment," says HSG press spokesman Matthias Reintgen. Taking part in the campaign is also a great team-building experience for both the pupils and the club members.

In the end, the Rhine bank was - at least temporarily - immaculately clean. "We are fully satisfied", Röttgen sums up. "It was a very positive experience. And for us, this first campaign will not be the last". The waste collectors received a lot of positive feedback from walkers – “this gave the children additional encouragement and reassurance”. Even though it was sad to see how much rubbish had accumulated in such a small area, the HSG Board is now all the more confident that “the kids are now doing it better” than other generations: “They were really complaining”.

(Original text: Gabriela Quarg, Translation: Caroline Kusch)