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These Cypriots Go Eco-Aware, Move to Clean Island, Environment

Αssociated Press

People walk at the beach as enjoy the sun and the sea in Larnaca costal city in southeast Mediterranean island of Cyprus, on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA -- Environmentalist groups on Cyprus are seeing more people want to take part in efforts to clean up the island, prevent overfishing ans shift away from industrial farming.

In a feature, The Cyprus Mail noted a growing movement, the drive added to by the group Save Your Hood Cyprus that already has 4,000 followers, two months after starting up in February.

It’s an offshoot of a movement that began in Athens in November, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, founded by Vasilis Sfakianopoulos, who Yiannis Pepetsios – one of the Cypriot founders – met while volunteering in Africa for the Greek NGO, Wheeling2Help, the paper said.

Pepetsios, 31, an insurance consultant for CNP Cyprialife, said he became more ecologically aware while he was volunteering abroad and wanted to apply that in his homeland.

“I completely cut out meat as a personal effort to help the environment,” he told reporter Melina Alexandrou and “hadn’t even considered bringing anyone else along on this journey with me. With time though I found I was influencing people: some of my friends became vegetarian, and we felt a shift happening.”

His CNP Cyprialife co-worker Marios Polymiou, 32, called it a ‘no brainer’ to support him when approached to begin Save Your Hood Cyprus.

With Pepetsios’ sister, Elliniki, they are leading clean-up events and trying to educate more people about the need to be environmentally aware and stop littering of beaches, fields and roadsides.

“This change has to come from the government too,” said Polymiou., “as clearly any current efforts are not being advertised well enough. Because if they were, we would all know that it’s not okay to dump unwanted items into a field, which is the classic Cypriot solution.”

Pepetsios said the idea is “to get into people’s heads regarding reducing single-use plastics. We want people to overcome any embarrassment of carrying a reusable water bottle, thereby incentivising restaurant owners to stop stocking plastic water bottles.

“If I’m not using a plastic bottle in the first place, I won’t have one to throw away. End of story.”