International students in Halifax encourages litter clean-up in Saudi Arabia

'He inspires change because he leads by action'

Desiree Finhert - Metro Halifax
Published on June 10, 2014


Picking up trash in Halifax has picked up traction in Saudi Arabia.

A group of international students from different Halifax universities have been spending their free time picking up trash along Highway 102 near Halifax of late.

Word of their actions has prompted a frenzy of volunteer litter collection in their home country.

“I see it as going crazy there,” said Ayed Alotaibi Monday. “We are encouraging them on how to do something for their environment.”

Over the weekend there were Clean Up Your City volunteers in the Saudi Arabia cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Al-Ahsa is on the schedule for this week and more groups are popping up in more cities all the time.

“Most of them are my friends back home,” said Alotaibi. “It’s all about connection.”

Alotaibi, with the Saudi Arabia Club in Halifax, has made a lot of connections through social media and is hoping the Clean Up Your City idea grows even bigger.

Big enough to become an annual event every June 5 in support of World Environment Day.

“I want to finish all of the cities back home,” he said. “But then I want to close in Halifax. But I will need more people.”

His ambition is to stir up enough enthusiasm to attract 100 volunteers, international and domestic students, who will wear the gloves and carry the bag all summer long.

Mount Saint Vincent University business teacher Michael Kydd showed no surprise that the grass-roots initiative has inspired others.

“He has a remarkable ability to get people to buy into what he wants to do,” said Kydd. “He inspires change because he leads by action.”

Kydd recalls the first time the crew of 10 international students showed up on the highway with garbage bags. He said the Saudi Arabians were the only ones who had volunteered for the dirty job, and they had brought tea and snacks with them.

“It’s part of their culture,” said Kydd. “It’s wanting to care.”