Aduén Morales García is a powerhouse. The young man from Argana Alta in Arrecife is one of the directors of the litter-collecting charity Lanzarote Limpia, a director of the Argana Alta Residents’ Movement, Vice President of the Unión Norte Canarian wrestling club in Haría and a volunteer for Cáritas and a prisoners’ reinsertion charity. We were lucky enough to grab him just before an important meeting at the Cabildo.
Tell us about lanzarote limpia, Aduén.
Its a project that gets volunteers and associations together to clean up various zones of Lanzarote by hand, collecting litter and waste and disposing of it correctly. We don’t just do beach cleanings, but have visited areas such as the little village of Los Ancones and inland Tinajo. An example would be the cleaning we did in the interior of the island with the help of the Papacría art and environmental association, Frente de Lanzarote, the Hubara Project, and the Association of Young Farmers Lanzarote.
Is it just a question of turning up with black bags and getting started?
Not at all We need permission from the Ayuntamiento, and the bags we use are recyclable, provided by the Atalaya Ecological Farm in Harya. We ask volunteers to sort the rubbish into plastics, paper, glass etc and then we dispose of it in the correct containers.
What types of waste are the main threats, in your opinion?
Microplastics. It’s shocking when you look closely at the sand in some northern shores and see how much plastic is there. WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? We need to eliminate single-use plastics and focus on sustainable alternative such as glass bottles or other alternatives to plastic. I think Lanzarote has the potential to be a real pioneer in this.
What are the strangest things you’ve encountered on cleaning days?
Oh, there’s been all sorts. A petrol canister from Egypt, a toaster, a dead cow, bottles of water that are only sold in China, Malaysian biscuits packets, British spray bottles… all sorts.
Any of those bales of cannabis we’ve been reading about?
(Laughs) Not yet, but it might help with funds !
What’s the ultimate aim of the cleaning?
We want to leave a negative footprint. I’d love to clean the island up once and for all, but that would be utopia. Still, we won’t stop trying.
Any favourite moments?
Last year we cleaned the isolated Playa del Risco beneath Famara cliffs, and 120 of us ended up singing Happy Birthday to Dona Pepa, an old lady who ran a shop in Guatiza. She passed away earlier this year, and we’ll never forget her. WHERE ARE YOU CLEANING NEXT? We have a cleaning planned from Tinajo before Christmas, and in the New Year I’m working on a trip to Alegranza. That would be amazing.
You also collect and distribute food for vulnerable families. How did that happen?
It started in lockdown, when it was obvious that many families were having problems. We asked for donations, and were soon saturated. We even ended up going to La Graciosa!
Is fund-raising part of what you do?
No. Dealing with money donations means you have to be absolutely transparent. We’d rather not get into that situation, so only accept food donations. ARE THINGS GETTING ANY BETTER? Not really. The problem is still there. Many people need help, many have had no choice but to occupy uninhabited buildings. I’ve helped families with children on complexes where there is no power and water and the windows and doors are always closed. We’ll bring food, but we’ll do more than that. With the family’s permission, we’ll contact social services and seek help, and we’ll do what we can to get people back on their feet again.
What would you like to see 2021 bring?
I’d like to see families and neighbours continue to help each other out. It’s been a terrible year, but it’s been wonderful to see how people support each other.
What drives you to do all this, Aduén?
It’s my nature to help, but that’s because I’m a worrier. I’m one of those annoying types whos always asking “Are you OK?”, “Can I help?”
Keep on worrying, Aduén and have a great 2021!
Go to the Lanzarote Limpia page on Facebook, or email famaralimpia@gmail. com to find out about upcoming projects