Refuse Refuse

The title "refuse refuse", one verb and one noun, meaning "reject rubbish",
is the slogan we have chosen to represent Temehu.com's online campaign to Keep Libya Clean.

Reduce Reuse Recycle Refuse


Traditionally, most Libyan women keep their houses spotlessly clean and tidy as a matter of daily routine of hard, and mostly unrecognised, work. But some Libyan men (if not many) seem to care less and less about their country, regardless of what they say. Libya until recently was clean and as isolated from the outside world as Acacus still is shrouded with mystery today. But today, the side effects of any influx of wealth and progressive economical growth, combined with aggressive change, would naturally include litter, neglect, plastic and fatigue.

Those consumers who are eager to digest and hurriedly disregard neat order for litter & clutter, beware: rubbish, refuse, garbage, litter and waste are piling up everywhere in Libya, even in the most sacred archaeological sites.

desert flower
We kindly urge both Libyans and visitors to reconsider and help keep Libya clean.


Far from being limited to Libya, litter appears to be globally symptomatic of modern industrial life as a whole. Waste is the product of creation; a carpenter's workshop would fill up with wood cuttings and sawdust if no system of keeping the workshop tidy was in place. Similarly our homes will fill up with rubbish if no cleaning takes place. So what is different about the "Big Home"? Our DNA too lacks this system as it mutates and thus our genome is more than 90% junk DNA. Good excuse for some who always prefer to blame others for their reckless actions! (Ref.: "Message in a genome?", New Scientist, 12 August 1995, p 30; http://www.newscientist.com) .

Temehu.com will attempt to graphically project the scale of this catastrophe to the attention of all: some Libyans, some authorities, and some foreign visitors alike; hoping to engage them to reflect and positively react to the actions some of them occasionally enact.

plastic litter in archaeological sites left by tourists

A human being enters an archaeological site to marvel at its wonderful beauty and immensely enjoy the magical satisfaction gained from being so close to such a distant past, is fine, and wonderful experience Libya is more than proud to provide. But why, dear friends,  curse the sacred ground with plastic and glass?


I am an important human being who hasn't got a clue as to what to do with the plastic that was sold to me using my plastic card!
Please, what should I do with my plastic bottle(s)?

They are "rubbish", not worth a penny, so why should one bother? One is often was brought-up to care only about "valuable possessions", and even secure and ensure them, in a society where so many care less and less about rubbish  tossed away against the wind?

Let us face it, there is no excuse, no matter what; but some places do have little litter bins for some people to toss their "trivial" rubbish in, not to say anything of those who miss the bin and never bother to stop, go back, and try again - that would be embarrassing; wouldn't it?

But those (lovely or ugly) plastic rubbish bins installed by councils are not found everywhere, nor where the Libyans and some visitors most likely would need them most. And if you do find one rubbish bin, it is more likely to be full, to the brim, and overflowing to the ground, rather than spotlessly empty.

And if you do do find one that is overflowing, and covering its surroundings with rubbish and bottles to the ground, then what? Maybe we can entice, or chase, the local council to purchase more cheap plastic bins from Hong Kong and have them blanket-cover the pavement in juxtaposition, waiting for junk to arrive only to be picked up and disposed of, somewhere else, of course - in somebody else's land.

It is rubbish after all we are talking about, isn't it?
Yes. It is. Pure rubbish.


Plastic Bottles.

Why do water bottles have those lines and grooves running across their bellies? (Have a look at the photo.) Well, these are designed for squashing the bottle, all the way down, just like this: remove the top, place your hand under the bottle, then squash the bottle all the way down and immediately secure the top back in position. Much less litter to carry, until a disposal "unit" was located.



empty water plastic bottle        squashed bottle with the lid replaced, to stop air going in again



Apology, playing videos requires enabling javascript.



The Problem is Some People Not Management!

some European tourists throwing rubbish randomly in the Sahara

This is a real photo of a PARTICULAR group of European tourists in the Libyan Sahara, leaving their rubbish behind after camping overnight. We have covered the plate numbers and other identifiers bright green in order to keep the identity of the "perpetrators" private and safe with us.

This particular Western European group of tourists (not to be confused with all European tourists) were habitually leaving their rubbish behind, wherever they camp. Not a bottle or two, but bags of it too.

When one of our Libyan tour guides kindly pointed out to them that they needed to carry the bags with them to the nearest rubbish dump, say the nearest village or town where one can find a rubbish bin, they took no notice of him. Why should they!

Of course, most tourists would not dare do that. The above evidence refers to this particular group. We have evidence for other tourists (Europeans, Asians, etc.) for  taking part in similar practices. And we have more evidence for many more Libyans doing the same, as we have illustrated in this article. And we have evidence for so many people doing this all over the world (please watch the BBC video at the end of this page).

When the guide noticed this Particular European group do this on a regular basis and blatantly refused to dispose of their refuse each time he asked them to, he waited one day until they all got in their cars and drove away and took his camera to produce the above live shot; capturing the perpetrators in action running away from the crime-scene, leaving the evidence behind: (two green bags, one blue bag, one white bag, one black bag, yellow plastic, and a solitary can). This is a fantastic photo because it captures the moment we decided to share with you!

We are not running a name and shame campaign.
We hope those particular tourists find this page as it might be of comfort to them
to know that their guide had secretly took all that rubbish and disposed of it at the nearest allocated spot.


rubbish piling up by the road

If the above story rings the bell, then I wouldn't mind pulling another one from the bag. I am rich in rubbish tales!

To reflect, you (regardless of your colour or nationality) would need to imagine yourself sitting on one of those lovely white plastic chairs and contemplating on the black graphic on the green plastic bin and ask yourself if the council needs to install a line of these bins instead of one or whether it needs to collect a few times a day instead of once!

Who do you think ought to answer this question?
Can we all Libyans, including the council, sit around the empty table and discuss this "disgusting" scene!

Many people (regardless of colour or nationality) were accustomed to having things done for them. When they were toddlers their mothers run behind them picking up all the loose pieces and putting all the toys back where they should be. When they grow up, they continue to depend on "road sweepers" and "dustmen" to pick up all the junk left behind. Councils pay companies, and companies pay road sweepers (most often immigrants) to do the job. When the population frighteningly grew in size, they invented machines to sweep the roads, but they still had the sweating sweepers erratically running behind the machine, zigzagging their brooms ahead of them (in attempt not to miss any loose dog-ends and to avoid tripping any passers by), sweeping rubbish towards the gutter for the noisy machine to suck. The first walker behind the cleaning team immediately initiates the same daily cycle all over again.

There are even companies that break the rules and dump their waste, including toxic chemicals and hazardous waste, wherever they like, at night of course. Some global corporations used Africa as a dumping ground, and when they were caught they just paid their way out -- fines are fine.

rubbish dump in an archaeological site

Is this a rubbish tip or the tip of the iceberg?

rusty tins piling up in an archaeological site

This story is different because at least in this one, one can contentedly argue that the cans have decided to disappear by themselves, without any human help, as they slowly vanish according to the cosmic law: from dust to dust. The ground itself is heavily stained with rust.

Mother nature always takes care of her foolish offspring (regardless of nationality or colour) tampering with her most sacred secrets. Nature's wind as always will be there to bury it away. But although nature can handle most types of waste, like paper, tins, cans, wood, biological matter and metal, other types are not biodegradable, and even harmful to the eco system of the planet as a whole.

Plastic, for a start, would prove more tricky than tins to resist all attempts of voluntary disappearance, at least for a very long time to come. In fact plastic is now an important element of our beloved, expensive diet, as it had shredded itself into our water system, and even fish take it. Big fish eat little fish, and many of us, but not all, eat fish rich in plastic and mercury - without knowing, of course. Scientists recommend we eat very little fish, no more than twice a week, if we to keep a safe level of toxins in our system.

So, there we have plenty of food for thought.

sheep grazing through rubbish in an archaeological site

Many museums in Libya still lack surveillance cameras, and most archaeological sites still unfenced, unguarded, and grazed by sheep.



Libyan Albayan

Albayan magazine cover
A scan of the front cover of Albayan magazine.


The Libyan magazine Albayan (issue: Hannibal 1376 [2008]) is a seasonal, cultural and analytical periodical published by the peoples committee of the Five Points Municipality (Sha'biyyet Anniqat Alkhams) in Zuwarah. In an article titled "In Plastic Farms" the author warns the Libyan people (not tourists) of the dangers of plastic and urges them to pay attention to their actions and help towards keeping Libya clean and safe for our children.

The article particularly focuses on the dangers of plastic as a substance that does not go away even when is shredded into dust and dissolved into the soil. Its microscopic particles remain in the soil and water for up to a century. When taken by plants from the soil and water, and then animals feed on these plants, the cancerous particles are transferred to humans via animal produce like milk and cheese.


In Plastic Farms

article from this magazine abour plastic rubbish


    The article goes on to warn the Libyan people about the excess use of plastic and asks them to use less of it whenever they can. For example, bakers use plastic carrier bags to sell hot bread to the public, when most people know that heat and plastic do not mix. [Take your traditional basket to the baker with you - be a traditional Libyan and forget about this modern stuff.]

    To reduce the consumption of unnecessary plastic, the article recommends:

    • Take immediate action right now.
    • Recycle plastic whenever you can.
    • Do not use plastic bags to package meat and other animal produce.
    • Use paper whenever you can.
    • Avoid buying plastic toys for your children.
    • Do not buy plastic plates, cups and forks to use for food.
    • Do not use disposable plastic plates and cups.
    • Use straw baskets to buy and store food, as your ancestors did.
    • Boycott plastic products whenever you can.
    • Let others know about this problem and help spread the word.




Medical Waste

The following image shows the home page of www.libyanmedicalwaste.com.
Please visit the site for info on how to dispose your medical waste appropriately.

medical waste in libya: website homepage

roadside dump

Take a closer look and you will see a Libyan driving his tractor to empty his load of Libyan rubbish in broad day light.
The rubbish on the slope by the side of the road presumably dumped by "lazy" drivers who cannot be bothered to follow the tractor.


I suppose most people (regardless of nationality or colour), as ever so busy chasing the precious 'loaf of life', are becoming lazier by the day and care less and less about anything else but being a useful 'bread winner' for the family. Populations around the globe are fast multiplying, while the existing constant space increases in price by the day. Like a helpless sheep stuck between the jaws of a lion, a general feeling of despair blankets the ground like a succubus. These and other factors should not be ignored when attempting to understand the phenomenon of why many people tend to care less and less about their health and environment? Equilibrium in a society requires "economic" equality at all levels, less political "brutality", and ample sharing of the only resources we have to tackle resulting social, health and environmental problems.

rubbish in the wind


The effects of the wind, plenty of it in Libya, can spread plastic bags across massive areas, and in many places one is accustomed to seeing plastic bags stuck in tree branches and power lines.

plastic bags caught in trees


plastic bottles littering the flowers by the beach

Libya needs a massive campaign to effectively remove plastic bottles from its vast landscape.


roadside warning of dumpping rubbish


The above sign is saying to other Libyans who do not care:

"the road is a public right for all and so make sure you keep it clean."



roadside rubbish dumpping warning

While this one says:

"random rubbish dumping shows lack of awareness of its bad effects."

That is the person who is throwing rubbish at random (regardless of his or her colour or nationality) does not know about the damage caused to human health and to the planet as a result. He is probably not aware that s/he drinks plastic everyday as a consequence. Look at the sign itself; it rises a number of questions.


desert flower



Why Wait To Take Responsible Action?

roadside dump

Divine help is looming in the horizon; and the angry Sun is about to leash.

If you are a Libyan reading this page now, as most likely there are not many Libyan who devote some of their precious time to reading or thinking about "rubbish",  can you care to help?

Are you not bothered?
Can you mention it to your local council for discussion or even consideration?
Or do you have influence to speed up change?
If yes, then your country needs you, right now.

She needs the attention of everyone to change their relaxed attitude towards health and hazard matters, and their intentions too. It matters more if people are mature enough to take responsible action by themselves and make things happen, and make less of it happen too, and widely embrace the importance of this embarrassing change. All of us need to work together to keep Libya clean and tidy.


cliffside rubbish dump

Are Some People Right To Blame Bad Management?

We have received a number of feedbacks stating that the issue is an issue of "bad management" and that the government needs to do something about this. We think people are mistaken to think that way.

Some people (regardless of colour or nationality) naturally would tend to blame others for their faults!
How can you blame the management for the actions of individuals. Someone throws an empty plastic bottle in an archaeological site, on the pavement, on the beach, or even in the desert. And then someone else does the same. As more people (regardless of nationality or colour) throw rubbish randomly, you will begin to notice rubbish piling up everywhere, as it is doing now - all over the world. Then all you have to do is put your hands in your pockets and say: bad management?

The management is doing all it can to keep the country clean of the rubbish produced by people (see photo below).
But it cannot eradicate the problem if these people do not stop throwing their rubbish everywhere.

In fact, one can ask: why should the government create a waste management department in the first place?
The answer is that because people throw rubbish everywhere they go!

Rubbish does not fall from the sky by itself; does it?

Imagine what the government would spend that money on if people do not throw their rubbish everywhere? Build new homes, new schools and new hospitals, increase the ridiculous minimum wage, improve services, donate cash to poor countries, and so on (to infinity). No, instead they are forced to spend billions of pounds just to collect, recycle and incinerate human-produced rubbish. Worse still, many of these rubbish producers blame bad management for their fantastic actions. This is rubbish.




The Good News

The Government's Campaign to Keep Libya Clean is Active and Well. Give them your support and helping hand!

cleaning the roads of Libya has began

This photo shows that the campaign to clean Libyan roads and streets is still active. Workers continue to work along all the major roads, collecting rubbish in bags and leaving them behind for the rubbish lorry to pick. Of course, people and visitors still need to help by changing their habits in order to keep Libya clean and stop their unacceptable behaviours. Simply, you cannot have people collecting your rubbish forever. It has to stop.

You can spread the word by word of mouth, or you can use your mouse.

Tell your friends, and help towards making people more aware of the disaster.
Some people would stop throwing rubbish at random as soon as they realise it is a problem.

Many people still think it is normal and expected from them.

Let them know its cleaning time.

dead corpse rotting around with rubbish

Do you want to say something?

End of 2011.



Happy New Year: 2012.


a rubbish bin, saying: do not be afraid; I do not bite.

Image from: www.facebook.com/CleaningUpTripoli

The bin is saying:
"don't be afraid; I do not bite!"


Cleaning up Tripoli

cleaning up tripoli logo

Cleaning Up Tripoli is a non-governmental "movement" founded to campaign for cleaning Tripoli; the sister of "Cleaning Revolution", which campaigns for the cleaning of Libya. In association with the "Libyan Society for Tourism Activation" (الجمعية الليبية للتنشيط السياحي) and other organisations and volunteers, a number of cleaning projects were undertaken in the capital, including the cleaning of Martyrs Square garden and painting Assaraya Alhamra Museum. Their Facebook page shows hundreds had already volunteered for the campaign to paint the walls and clean the garden of Libya Museum, due to take place on Saturday the 28th of January 2012. Please give Cleaning Revolution a helping hand; like their page (www.facebook.com/CleaningUpTripoli); tell your friends; and please do take part yourself in preventing rather than dealing with pollution.




Why litter is accumulating in the streets of Misrata?


Readers Comments:

17 July 2009:
"I am deeply shocked to hear that civilised tourists do such an awful thing. Thank you for the lovely photos. Amina."

Temehu's reply: "us too!"

17 July 2009:
"Thank you for a very insightful post. This is an extremely important issue in Libya. However there is a lack of waste 'management' by the state. Even when people are careful about their rubbish and put it in the right places, it doesn't get collected. Umm Salwan."

Temehu's reply: agree with and can see your point regarding "full and over-flowing bins" (like the green one above); but what about those who throw rubbish practically everywhere, even in the heart of the desert? The only waste management there is one's sense! Everyone needs to do their share.

5 August 2009:

"This is a problem of management and administration. Basheer."

Temehu's reply: disagree with you. Totally disagree. We think the problem is "bad people"; people, including some tourists, seem to care less about the landscape they desecrate every day. Ask yourself the simple question: what would happen if people STOP throwing rubbish at random? The answer is: clean streets. What would happen if smokers STOP throwing their cigarette-ends everywhere?

24 August 2009:

"Thank you for this page Temehu. Rubbish is a huge problem in Libya, and making this website is a step forward. I have a few points to make:1) People's Responsibility: I live in Benghazi and my father and I clean our street every Thursday, sometimes more. We also warn the neighbours to throw their rubbish in the large bins across the street, and not on the street corner! . . . Our street is now one of the cleanest in the area, because of an effort we made. This shows that people can keep the place clean with a bit of effort, but . . . 2) The Authorities' Responsibility: I was very happy to see the second last photo of the men cleaning up the rubbish. I wonder who took this decision, because I know another place where it is needed: I was driving from Tripoli to Misurata (July 2009), and the road side is FILLED with plastic bags. This is a very common tourist route which takes visitors from Tripoli to Leptis Magna. I tried to take nice photos of the landscape but each picture was filled with plastic bags. I felt embarassed to show it to friends back here in Ireland where I live. I know an Irish group who visited Libya, and they were horrified at the state of this road . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At the moment nobody cares about throwing rubbish in the street. Why? because they don't have to care, who's going to stop them, who's going to punish them? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Here in Ireland, I remember an incident where one Friday night, students threw rubbish everywhere in our estate, everywhere. The next day the police were here asking us, "what did you see?", "who's responsible?". The next week the local university published a report in the newspaper scolding the students responsible. They were found, and FINED. . . . . . . . . . There are fines of up to 1000 Euros in some places in Ireland for dumping culprits . . . Look at this British Website: http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/Default.aspx . . . . . . . . . . To summarise:1) People of Libya, stop being cynical and lazy and waiting for the government to fix everything . . . 2) Authorities of Libya . . . Start a real, strong and committed nationwide campaign such as Britain's 'Keep Britain Tidy'. You did a great job with the seatbelt campaign, and it worked very well! Now move on to rubbish. . . . "

Temehu's reply: Thank you for your feedback; please accept our apology for editing your comment (it is too long). You are right in that both the people and the council need to take action and help each other to keep their country tidy & clean. In relation to the fines you mentioned you have in Ireland, one can note that even though there is a £1000 fine in London for not picking up dog litter, dog owners still walk away from their crime scenes, and you cannot have a policeman chasing every dog owner in the capital waiting to issue the fine. However, there is a fine of one hundred Libyan dinars already in place in Libya, for throwing rubbish randomly, but many Libyans still do what they normally do. If people do what you did in Benghazi, then the council will have no one to fine!

13 Junes 2010

"Check this link of a hotel made of rubbish: bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/06/100604_rubbish_hotel_et_sl.shtml

Temehu's reply: Thank you for the link (which no longer works - see the following link). Very interesting project: a hotel made of rubbish collected from beaches has opened in Rome, Italy. The hotel, safely disinfected and supplied with new sheets, is named "Save The Beach", in an effort to bring our attention to the problem of rubbish, daily accumulating around the world's beaches, in a sense that once you sleep in the hotel you will wake up to the sad reality.

This image is a screen shot of the article at the above link, linked to a BBC video about the hotel.

save the beach hotel in Rome

Check this BBC video.

06 October 2010

Hello. again. I think it is wrong to write that it is tourists that make Libya dirty. I had the most respect for the country when I lived there. But the thing is that there is no any facilities for most of the garbage. Those facilities that are there are not enough. even on you photos there is a rubbish bin but it is more then ful and noone cleans it or emties it.
PS can you pls make an article about national crafmanship like national cloth, jewlery, carpets and so on with pictures. Anonymous wrote.

Temehu's reply:

Yes, it is wrong to write that. But we did not write that. We were specific about: "This Western European group". The above photographic evidence implicates that group (the identity of which we have protected), and does not refer to anyone else but them.  There is no doubt that the people who make this planet dirty come from all over the world including from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. We have published some of the evidence in this page. Just watch the above (European) BBC video and you will know.


desert flower

Thank You

flowers from libyan market

Thank you for your support and reading this far.