The average Lebanese person produces a kilogramme of garbage every day. That is 365 kilogrammes of garbage per person every year - or 1.46 million tonnes across the country. A very small part of that garbage ends up in bins or gets recycled. Trash is everywhere. In the city of Saida, a mountain of garbage on the coast has become a kind of national symbol. On stormy days, trash from Lebanon washes up on the shores of Cyprus.
For Denise Maroney, a Lebanese-American theatre producer, awareness of the scale of the problem and a drastic change in people's behaviour are the key to the solution. Her theatre group, called the (B)IM Project, has taken the initiative in bringing the problem of trash to public spaces across Lebanon.
Their performance '10453: A Story about Life in 1km2 of Trash' is touring the Lebanese coast, making people think about the dirty condition of the world they live in. The title is a play on the size of Lebanon, which is 10453 km2; but if the Lebanese continue to produce garbage at this rate and reclaiming the sea with mountains of trash, the country could very well increase in size, and everyone would quite literally live on trash.
For months, the artists collected everyday refuse from the Lebanese community. The discarded materials were reclaimed and designed as the set, costumes and props. Using powerful images of everyday garbage, humour and solid facts, the play examines Lebanese attitudes towards consumption, and prompts them to consider where their trash ends up. The team hopes that this will be the first step towards encouraging recycling, and improving Lebanon's environment.
Zeina Aboul-Hosn takes a seat in the final performance, to see how the audience reacts.
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