Sicily has a garbage problem. Although it is home to some of the world’s most spectacular historical and natural legacies and boasts an impressive inventory of UNESCO heritage listed sites, yet there is a year-round garbage problem in many these locations. It is an all-too-common scene and I fear that too many have become just become too used to seeing it. Resignation and tolerance are the greatest threats to a cleaner Sicily.

Last Friday I attended a conference about the garbage issues on and around Mount Etna, its forests, and parks. Attending the conference were the town mayors of the 20 communities that make up the Etna and Alcantara nature reserves: Maurizio Lunetta, president of the Etna DOC consortia, Etna business owners, Etna wine producers, journalists, and the president of the region of Sicily, Nello Musumeci.

Among the many themes discussed, I found the creation of the App EtnAmbiente to be most interesting.

It is common knowledge that cleanliness invites cleanliness, so if rubbish is removed in a timely manner, then small waste deposits are less likely to develop into larger deposits. EtnAmbiente, set up by the Strada del Vino e dei Sapori dell’Etna, aims at just this. Anybody wishing to report waste deposit may download the EtnAmbiente app on their smartphones, register, photograph and anonymously report rubbish that is spotted. Side by side to the EtnaAmbiente project is the ‘adopt a telecamera’ initiative. This operation facilitates private individuals to install cameras that also capture public areas. Remove the micro before it becomes macro. EtnAmbiente is a non-profit environmental protection project, created by the joined forces of entrepreneurs, institutions, and environmental associations, all coming together to defend the Etna territory. The principal objective, in addition to raising public awareness on the issues of safeguarding the territory, is the active involvement of citizens to combat the illegal and indiscriminate abandonment of waste.

There is much to be done still done but with continued education and awareness in schools and initiatives such as Etna Ambiente there is optimism.