It’s been a little over a year since the beginning of Beirut’s garbage crisis, which saw piles and piles of trash—indeed, an entire river of the stuff—flooding the Lebanese capital and its suburbs. When the government closed the city’s main landfill in July 2015, it had 15 million tons of garbage in it—13 million more than it was meant to. Because the government had not secured a new landfill, trash collection stopped. Mounds of rubbish accumulated in the streets.
The stench and sight of the trash spurred a protest movement, aptly dubbed You Stink. Hassan Chamoun, the movement’s photographer and videographer, tells CityLab that he and his fellow activists would collect garbage around the city—from, say, the teeming Beirut River—and pass it to NGOs to dispose of. “We were saying to the government that we don’t need you, we can take care of things ourselves,” he says.