مرکزی صفحہ International Journal of Environment and Waste Management Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands' residents: a footprint due to refugee inflows

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands' residents: a footprint due to refugee inflows

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جلد:
25
سال:
2020
رسالہ:
International Journal of Environment and Waste Management
DOI:
10.1504/ijewm.2020.106291
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Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2020

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’
residents: a footprint due to refugee inflows
Aristea Kounani*, Constantina Skanavis,
Kalliopi Marini and Valentina Plaka
Department of Environment,
University of the Aegean,
Mytilene, Greece
Email: akounani@yahoo.gr
Email: cskanav@aegean.gr
Email: kmarini1@gmail.com
Email: plaka@env.aegean.gr
*Corresponding author
Abstract: The present questionnaire-based research was conducted during the
spring and summer of 2017 at the Greek Aegean islands, Lesvos and Skyros.
The aim of the research was to reveal the locals’ general environmental
awareness, their attitudes towards waste management, recycling and
management of ‘special wastes’. As a ‘special wastes’ are considered the life
jackets and the inflatable boats. This study sought to answer mainly the
following research questions: a) whether there were statistically significant
differences between residents of the two Aegean Islands with regard to their
views; b) whether there were statistically significant correlations between the
attitude towards waste management, the attitude towards recycling, the attitude
towards the management of ‘special wastes’ and their environmental
awareness. This research was designed and implemented having the motivation
to create an environmental awareness raising campaign for Greek residents
concerning the great issue of waste management Greece is dealing with due to
mass refugees’ arrivals.
Keywords: migration; environmental awareness; waste management; Syrian
refugee crisis; refugees’ footprint; Aegean Islands; Greece.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Kounani, A., Skanavis, C.,
Marini, K. and Plaka, V. (2020) ‘Waste management perceptions of Aegean
Islands’ residents: a footprint due to refugee inflows’, Int. J. Environment and
Waste Management, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp.263–297.
Biographical notes: Aristea Kounani is a PhD candidate at the Department of
the Environment at the University of the Aegean and a ; Senior Researcher at the
Research Centre of Environmental Education and Communication, at the
Department of Environment. She holds a Master’s degree in Agriculture and
Environment and Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Technology. Her research
is expanded in the fields of climate change, sustainable development (SD),
environmental education and communication. She is currently conducting
research towards refugees (environmental-climate refugees), education for SD
and climate change communication. She aims to contribute to SD promotion
and climate mitigation strategies at a global scale.

Copyright © 2020 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

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A. Kounani et al.
Constantina Skanavis is a Professor in Environmental Communication and
Education at the Department of Environment, University of the Aegean
(Mytilene, Greece). She is also the Head of the Research Centre of
Environmental Education and Communication. She joined the University of the
Aegean 15 years ago. Before that she was a Professor at California State
University, Los Angeles. She has developed several courses on issues of
environmental health and education. She currently teaches environmental
education, environmental communication and environmental interpretation
courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has numerous
publications on an international basis and has given presentations all over the
world.
Kalliopi Marini has studied Psychology at the National and Kapodistrian
University of Athens. She holds an MSc degree in Social/Organisational
Psychology. She is a certified Cognitive-Behavioural Psychotherapist. Since
2003, she has been working as a free-lancer, being one of the basic cooperators
of ISON Psychometrica Ltd. Experienced in applied psychology, including
testing, professional training and social research. She often participates in
specialised relevant research. During the last ten years, she has been working as
a Cognitive-Behavioural Psychotherapist. Since 2016, her research interests
have expanded in the fields of environmental education and communication,
pursuing a Doctoral degree at the University of the Aegean.
Valentina Plaka is an Environmental Scientist, who holds a Master’s degree in
Environmental Policy and Biodiversity Conservation from the University of the
Aegean. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in Environmental Communication
and Education at the University of the Aegean. She was the recipient of the
Postgraduate Award of Excellence, from the University of the Aegean. She is
the author of a list of research papers, journal articles and book chapters and
has presented on international and national conferences. She contributes
regularly in an educational e-journal on the environmental section. Presently,
she is in the process of creating an educational kit on environmental issues. She
aims to promote a new environmental lifestyle, based on sustainable
development education.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled ‘Refugee
crisis: Greek residents’ attitudes towards waste management in their region’
presented at International Conference ‘Protection and Restoration XIV’,
Thessaloniki, Greece, 3–6 July 2018.

1

Introduction

People have historically forsake regions with raucous or deteriorating conditions, whether
this is in terms of political upheaval, high unemployment, poor precipitation, or some
permutation of these or other adverse factors (Black, 2001). Given this situation, the
interdependence between violent conflicts and environmental alterations has fascinated
much attention recently. World history proves that the most dramatic migration
movements were: firstly, the one of 12 million Germans migrating from Eastern Europe
to Western Europe after the Second World War (Bahcekapili and Cetin, 2015) and
secondly, the one caused by the Syrian war. The conflict in Syria continues to produce
the gravest displacement crisis in the world today; generating dramatic levels of

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents

265

suffering, and shattering the lives of many Syrian people – along with their hopes and
dreams.
By the end of 2015 an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been
enforced from home due to the war, discrimination or violation of the human rights
(UNHCR, 2017b). This mass exodus of people from their own country has exponentially
augmented in present days and until the end of July 2018 the number was upraised to
68.5 million people (UNHCR, 2018). The consequences of this global phenomenon are
much bigger than the actual issue itself. Migrants and refugees flocking into Europe from
South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East have presented European leaders and
policymakers with a heavy task since the Eurozone crisis (Genschel and Jachtenfucht,
2018; CFR, 2015).
The last few years, Greece is experiencing a big economic downturn, as well as the
impacts of a refugee crisis. As migrants cross the Aegean Sea to reach Europe, the Greek
islands near the Turkish coast are reaching their carrying capacity, since in many
occasions they receive and host more refugees than they could accommodate. Syria is
presenting the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of recent years, a continuing cause
of suffering for millions of human beings. This massive immigration obviously has
affected all the neighbouring to Syria countries, including Greece. The foremost
environmental issue the Greek islands are being confronted with, due to refugees’
movement, is the disposal of plastic from their life jackets and inflatable crafts, remnants
upon their arrival to the receiving points (Skanavis and Kounani, 2016). Moreover,
landfill capacity is not adequate for the unanticipated inflow of people in the islands
where refugees arrive, since the main issue that the islands are confronted with is the lack
of sufficient land and adequate infrastructure for accumulated wastes (Karkazi et al.,
2003).
The present research, a questionnaire-based survey, was conducted in the spring and
summer of 2017 at the Greek Aegean Islands, Lesvos and Skyros. The aim of the survey
was to recognise whether or not there is a significant difference in total environmental
awareness towards waste management and ‘special wastes’ management between the
residents of Lesvos, a migrant receiving and hosting community, and Skyros Island a
Greek island community, serving as a control group that neither receives nor hosts
migrants. Lesvos is an island near Turkey and a major player in the European migrant
mobility crisis, while Skyros is one of the smaller islands closer to mainland Greece not
involved in the refugee crisis scenario. This study sought to answer the following
research questions:
a

to what extent the inhabitants of the two Aegean Islands are environmentally aware

b

what is their attitude regarding the waste management of their area

c

what are their views regarding the management of ‘special wastes’

d

what are their views regarding recycling

e

whether there are statistically significant differences between residents of the two
Aegean Islands with regard to their views on all previous issues

f

whether there are statistically significant correlations between the attitude towards
waste management and the attitude towards recycling, the attitude towards the

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A. Kounani et al.
management of ‘special wastes’, the environmental awareness and the intention to
change and participate in the solution of the problems caused by the refugees.

1.1 Environmental context of human migration on hosting regions
Sudden appearance of a large number of refugees, have major effects on the social,
environmental and political conditions of the receiving areas. Particularly, in case the
hosting nation does not have sustainable and integrated management plans regarding
these concerns, this could have calamitous complications (Dyrholm and Mikkelsen,
2013).
As the majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in camps in the poor areas of the
planet, plainly, they are enhancing the competition with already desperate nationals for
scarce jobs and services, and depositing a further strain on social services and physical
infrastructure (Dyrholm and Mikkelsen, 2013). Camps are temporary structures that
cannot provide permanent or sustainable solutions. They render refugees’ physical and
material security, as well as legal security, such as access to justice, a legal status and
documentation, while they provide them with medical treatment, food, and shelter as they
are waiting for more long-lasting disentanglement. The encampment of refugees is
extremely criticised by several scholars and is referred to by many as ‘warehousing’ of
refugees. Refugees can be warehoused in refugee camps for years, despairing of the
future. Therefore camps are often overcrowded with badly dwelling structures such as are
tents or flimsy huts, and water and sanitation infrastructure is problematic, especially
over the long term (Jacobsen, 1997). Epidemics such as measles, dysentery, meningitis
and cholera are often widespread in the congested camps (Harrell-Bond, 1989).
The environmental impacts of migration on host environments are similar to those of
overpopulation (Lee, 1995). Unquestionably refugee camps can have deleterious impacts
on local environmental conditions (Biswas and Tortajada-Quiroz, 1996; Jacobsen 1997;
Barnett and Webber, 2010). Nobody expects refugees to be environmentally conscious
while they are striving for their lives and crossing hundreds of miles daily to find a better
life for them and their children (Oakes, 2007). Where there is an increment in population
within a short period in a restricted rural area, there is bound to be stress on resources,
especially land and forest products. As noted by Biswas and Tortajada-Quiroz (1996)
where substantial numbers of displaced populations settled in a restricted area, negative
environmental impacts such as deforestation become a common phenomenon (Agblorti
and Awusabo-Asare, 2011). Destructive land use and deforestation are two of the major
impacts of refugees’ camps. For example, South Kivu lost 3,750 ha of forests within
three weeks of the settlement of refugees (Biswas and Tortajada-Quiroz, 1996). Surface
and groundwater pollution is another foremost effect where the disposal of municipal
solid waste (MSW) in open dumps and in rivers contaminates surface and groundwater
resources depending on soil permeability of the site (Kherfan, 2016).
Failure to mitigate these impacts leads to degraded environment. Poor host countries’
fear of letting refugees put further strain on scarce resources and cause instability in the
country makes them have a preference to only offer impermanent settlement in refugee
camps as an alternative of letting them integrate (Dyrholm and Mikkelsen, 2013). The
integration of refugees is contingent on the tolerance of host communities to infractions
and the preparedness of the refugees to operate within the acceptable norms of the
community. Where the activities of refugees threaten the systems of the host population,
peaceful coexistence is likely to be problematic (Agblorti and Awusabo-Asare, 2011).

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents

267

Political situation and governmental plans and policies play a significant role in the
management of refugees’ concerns. In fact, the environment of refugees is enough in
itself to reflect on the environmental and political situation of the hosting country
(Skanavis and Kounani, 2016).

1.2 The Syrian refugee crisis
The Syrian civil war started in spring 2011, well known as the Arab Spring, is a religious
war between different ethnic groups in the Arabian world (Bahcekapili and Cetin, 2015).
This war is ongoing and causes massive migration of people from Syria and the
surrounding countries as well to Europe (The Lancet, 2014). The Syria crisis has
displaced 4.81 million Syrian refugees into the Republic of Turkey, the Lebanese
Republic, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of Iraq and the Arab Republic
of Egypt, and there are an estimated 6.1 million internally displaced people within Syria.
Turkey hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country – some 2.76 million, Lebanon
one million, Jordan 655,000, Iraq hosts nearly 230,000 Syrian refugees, as well as
3.2 million internally displaced Iraqis and Egypt hosts around 115,000 Syrian refugees
along with refugees from many other countries. During 2016, the number of registered
Syrian refugees protected by these five countries has increased by almost 200,000 to
stand at 4.81 million at the end of November 2017 (UNCHR, 2017a).
Figure 1

Sea arrivals to Mediterranean Sea from 2008 to 2018 (see online version for colours)

Source: Based on data received in 9th March 2018 by UNHCR

Based on the authority of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) Syrians, along with migrants and refugees from other war-torn countries, have
fled to Turkey and attempted to cross Mediterranean Sea to seek refuge in Europe,
overwhelming receiving countries, since they were not ready or willing to cope with this
abrupt outcome. The main receiving European countries are Italy and Greece (UNHCR,
2017c). According to data received by UNHCR in 9th March 2018 in Figure 1, refugee
inflows in Mediterranean Sea are presented. Year 2015 was the one with the greatest
refugees’ influxes, while it is observed a continuous decrease in the numbers of refugees
that reach the European coasts. The extent of the refugees’ flows to each receiving
country is shown in Figure 2, and as it is noticed Italy was the 1st and Greece was the 2nd

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in popularity countries. Similar scenario is experienced in 2018, shown in Figure 3. The
current migrant situation in Europe and Greece in particular, is referred to as the
‘European refugee crisis’. Europe was awed by the massive flow of migrants and
refugees crossing its borders in 2015, 2016 and 2017 (Kounani and Skanavis, 2018a).
Figure 2

Sea arrivals to Mediterranean Sea per country for the year 2017 (see online version
for colours)

Source: Based on data received in 9th March 2018 by UNHCR
Figure 3

Sea arrivals to Mediterranean Sea per country for the year 2018 (see online version
for colours)

Source: Based on data received in 9th March 2018 by UNHCR

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents

269

1.3 Refugee crisis in Greece
Syria is presenting the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of recent years, a
continuing cause of suffering for millions of people (UNHCR, 2016). This massive
immigration obviously has affected all the neighbouring to Syria, countries including
Greece. As UNHCR pointed until the 9th of March 2018 more than 3,146 refugees have
arrived to Greece from Turkey, bringing the total number of such arrivals into Greece to
1,104,075 since the January of 2014 (UNHCR, 2017d). For more than seven years
refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq have been crossing
Mediterranean Sea heading to Greece (UNHCR, 2016). In Figure 4, the total refugees’
influxes for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 (until the 9th of March when the
data were received by the UNHCR) are presented. Year 2015 was the one that Greece
accepted the greatest inflows of refugees.
Figure 4

Total sea arrivals to Aegean Sea per year from 2014 to 2018 (see online version
for colours)

Source: Based on data received in 9th March 2018 by UNHCR

However, Greece is not refugees’ final European destination, since they wish to continue
their journey to northern and western EU countries. All these years, Greek islands, that
are located closely to Turkey coastlines, such as Lesvos, Chios and Samos, are facing an
enormous pressure, since they are dealing with such large number of refugee arrivals.
Figure 5 depicts the numbers of refugees that reached the Greek Islands, the years 2014,
2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, based on data received in 9th March 2018 from the Hellenic
Police. It is noted Lesvos Island is the one that has received most refugees all these years.
Additionally, the aforementioned Greek islands, having the characteristics of all small
islands (Hess, 1990), happen to have restricted economic resources and a fragile
environmental sustainability structure making them confoundedly destructible in
emergency circumstances (Polido et al., 2014), like the one associated with the Syrian
crisis and widely with the Middle East Refugee Crisis. While most of the refugees
arriving in Greece were from Syria, the country saw also an unprecedented number of
migrants from other countries such as Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as smaller numbers
from countries such as Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan (UNHCR, 2015). In 2015, and the
years before, refugees and migrants travelled through the Greek islands and quickly

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continued their journey to Athens and onwards to other European countries. But as the
Balkan countries built fences and closed their borders, refugees were trapped in Greece
(Skanavis and Kounani, 2016).
Figure 5

Number of refugees that reach the Greek Islands, the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and
2018 (see online version for colours)

Source: Based on data received in 9th March 2018 by Hellenic Police (2018)

Greece was not prepared to deal with such a massive migration flow (Skanavis and
Kounani, 2016), since it has been seriously affected by the global economic turmoil
during the last decade (Kentikelenis et al., 2011). This crisis has caused a dramatic
impact on inhabitants’ everyday life, since the reduction or absence of income has caused
losses in prosperity and has already pushed large sections of the population in poverty
status (Knight, 2013). The national health system was quite shaky, which has made even
harder the delivery of services to the latest refugee flow. According to data received in
February 2018 by the Interior Ministry of Greece and National Center for Immigration
and Asylum Border Control (2018), refugees in Greek receiving regions are often hosted
in refugees’ camps that are seriously overcrowded. For example the refugee camp in
Moria at Lesvos Island hosts over 5,241 individuals while its capacity is 3,000. Table 1
presents the number of refugees that each Aegean Island hosts and the capacity of its
hosting infrastructure. These three Aegean Islands (Lesvos, Chios and Samos), that
received the greatest portion of refugees are the ones that also have the over-crowded
refugee camps (IMG, 2018).
Table 1

The number of refugees that is hosted in Aegean Islands per refugee camp (hosting
structure), according to data received by the Interior Ministry of Greece (March 2018)
Hosted refugees

Structure capacity

Lesvos

5,241

3,000

Chios

1,216

1,014

Samos

2,527

648

Kos

574

860

Rhodes and Tilos

758

770

Source: IMG (March, 2018)

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271

Besides the security debate, other impacts of migration on host communities span across
environmental, economic, and social factors (Skanavis and Kounani, 2016). Providing
economic opportunities to the newcomers can be a challenge; a lack of economic
opportunities may boost crime, causing further tension in these already apprehensive
communities (Hirsch, 2016). Thus, social integration measures are much needed, both for
the migrants to feel welcomed but also for the locals to get over the fear and prejudices of
these newcomers. Moreover, learning the local language and feeling socially accepted in
a community can have significant mental and psychological health benefits for the
migrants who often have built up anxiety from their uncertain life situation.
Concerning the environmental pressures of migration on the Greek islands, they
include increased natural resource pressures, land clearing for construction of refugee
camps, greater waste generation and increased energy consumption. Especially, the
enormous amounts of wastes from the life jackets and rubber dinghies that the migrants
used in order to cross the sea pose a massive challenge to the Greek islands. However,
with inadequate landfill capacity and no facilities in Greece to recycle these materials,
life jackets in particular, the islands are not just facing challenges with migration
movement but also the ever increasing piles of waste (Skanavis and Kounani, 2016).
This entire unfavourable situation that Greece is being confronted with makes
impossible to secure basic human rights such as food, clean water, housing etc. (The
Guardian, 2017), for these evicted populations, and often the scenario is too burdensome
even for the inhabitants of the hosting areas (Kounani and Skanavis, 2018a). Even though
these migrant hosting communities face immense pressures in terms of security,
environmental damage, economic burden and social tensions, the blame and
responsibility is not solely on the shoulders of migrants. To address the increased
challenges of migration there is a great need for well-organised resettlement to minimise
these tensions between migrants and locals. These resettlement programs ought to be
developed by migrants and locals as well as include both parties to ease tensions and
reduce conflict (Hirsch, 2016; Kherfan, 2016) especially in communities where the
cultural differences between migrants and locals are immense.

1.4 The case of Lesvos Island
The island of Lesvos, also called Mytilene, is located in the North-Eastern Aegean Sea. It
is the largest island after Crete and Euboea in the Aegean Sea (1,630.5-square-km), with
a coastline of 370 km (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2017).
The Municipality of the island of Lesvos consists of 13 sections and 190 villages with
a total population of 85,412 residents (based on data received by the Hellenic Statistical
Authority). The main island activities include farming, fishing and agriculture. With its
beautiful, unique and full of variety landscapes, the island has developed ecotourism and
other forms of alternative tourism investments. Consequently, this concept attracts many
tourists with different expectations and interests (Skanavis and Kounani, 2016).

1.4.1 Municipal solid waste production and environmental management of
Lesvos Island
According to receiving data from the ‘Service of Planning Department, Cleanliness,
Recycling, Waste Collection’ of the Municipality of Lesvos, the amount of unsorted
wastes and the recyclables in years 2013 to 2017 are depicted in Table 2. As it is

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observed there is a continuously increased trend in the produced amount of solid wastes
in recent years. Furthermore, according to the provided data, the amount of MSW on the
island is estimated about 100 tones/day in winter and ranges from 120–130 tones / day in
the tourist season. Concerning to the production of municipal solid waste (SMW) due to
refugees’ flows, it depends on the refugees’ influxes and the total number of permanently
hosted refugees (along with, for example, guest members, NGOs, journalists, etc.), which
as it had been estimated by the municipality of Lesvos, it ranges between 7 to 30 tons in
2016 (Municipality of Lesvos, 2018). According to data received in March 2018 the
produced MSW due to refugees’ settlement in camps was almost 20 cubic metres daily.
Table 2

The amount of produced solid wastes in Lesvos

Year

Total amount of municipal
solid waste (tones/year)

total amount of recyclables
(tones/year)

total amount of produced
waste (tones/year)

2013

33.228,93

-

33.228,93

2014

37.146,39

1.285

38.431,39

2015

36.322,14

2.186

38.508,14

2016

38.056,71

2.844

40.900,71

2017

39,108.72

9,332,1

42,430.82

The Central Sanitary Landfill Disposal of the island is 307 acres. The responsibility of
uploading, disposal and recovery of wastes is placed on the Municipal Waste
Management and Environmental Development Company of Lesvos. Sorting,
compression, and sale of recyclables takes place in a private centre, the recycling sorting
in Moria area, run by the company ‘Sea-Lesvos Foundries Recycling SA’ (Skanavis and
Kounani, 2016).

1.4.2 Impacts of the refugees’ flows in Lesvos Island
Initially, the majority of refugees were staying temporarily at Greek islands for 2–4 days,
for registration purposes. Then, they were being transferred to Athens in order to
continue their journey to Northern European countries. But, due to the closure of
European borders a noteworthy number of them have been trapped in Greece with an
ambiguous departure date (Skanavis and Kounani, 2016).
The foremost environmental issue Lesvos Island is being confronted with, due to
refugees’ movement, is the disposal of plastic from their life jackets, inflatable crafts,
inflatable tubes and clothing, remnants upon their arrival to the islands. This novel type
of marine litter dominates several beaches and becomes progressively abundant. A
research conducted, in 2015, towards the marine litter, caused by the refugees’ arrivals,
by Katsanevakis in two beaches of Lesvos found immigration-related stuffs to account
for more than 97% of marine litter by weight, which adds pressure on marine biodiversity
and the local economy, influencing the recreational value of beaches. More specifically
large items on the founded seabed such as plastic pieces from inflatable boats can cause
substantial damage to flora and sessile fauna by smothering, while smaller pieces can
impact marine life through entanglement, ingestion or even by assisting the secondary

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents

273

spread of invasive species (Katsanevakis and Crocetta, 2014). Marine litter is a solemn
insult to the visual and other aesthetic sensitivities of tourists and local visitors to beaches
(Katsanevakis, 2008). The cost of regular cleanups of beaches and the seabed but also of
terrestrial areas should be added to the total cost of immigration-related littering for the
local economy (Katsanevakis, 2015).
Moreover, landfill capacity is not adequate for the unanticipated inflow of people in
the islands where refugees arrive. The volume of lifejackets and boats collected until
December 2017 was about 20,000 cubic metres (Kounani and Skanavis, 2018b). This
type of trashy waste has been gathered and conveyed to three municipal stations, in an
exertion to find a way to recycle it. Skanavis and Kounani (2016), based on a study that
was conducted by the Municipality of Lesvos while trying to assess the amount of
pressure the island was up to, reckoning the number of refugees that are hosted at the
island daily (including the hosted NGO members, journalists, etc.), concluded that the
daily production of municipal solid wastes related to the refugees’ flow cost for
collection – transport – landfill services, between 1,500 to 5,500 Euros.
As it was aforementioned, Lesvos Island has an extremely overcrowded refugee camp
in Moria and is hosting 5,241 refugees in a temporary infrastructure with a capacity of
3,000 (IMG, 2018). The refugees’ footprint can be summarised as: pressure on water and
energy demand, soil destruction, air pollution, waste production. However, every refugee
crisis is unique and needs to be observed and managed as an individual occasion. When it
comes to solid wastes, there is a large increase because of refugees stay for lots of days
into the camps (Skanavis and Kounani, 2016).

1.5 The case of Skyros Island
Skyros Island, the largest and easternmost of the Northern Sporades in the Aegean Sea, is
a small Greek island that has an area of 81 square miles (210 square km). It is located
almost 30 km away from Evia Island (Eclyclopaedia Britannica, 2017) and has a
population of 2,888 inhabitants (Hellenic Statistical Authority, 2014). The islanders on
Skyros are engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry (famous for its small horses),
fishing, small industry and resin collection. In general, Skyros presents low seasonal
wastes’ variation due to its mild touristic development (Pertrakopoulou, 2015).

1.5.1 Municipal solid waste production and environmental management of
Skyros Island
The wastes of Skyros Island are collected by the municipality and transferred to the
landfill site located in the ‘Kourakas’ location. The recyclables are collected by the
municipality of Skyros and transferred to a recycling plant in Schimatari. Collection of
recyclables during the winter is done twice a week and the transfer to the recycling plant
is done once a week. The total amounts of MSW and Recyclables, for the years 2012 to
2016, are presented in Table 3. Unfortunately the data provided by the municipality is
incomplete because the weigh machine since 2014 has been out of order.

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Table 3
Year

The amount of the produced MSW in Skyros Island
Total amount of municipal
solid waste (tones/year)

Total amount of
recyclables (tones/year)

Total amount of produced
waste (tones/year)

2012

1.525

130,23

1.655,23

2013

1.376

39,60

1.415,6

2014

-

71,50

2015

-

93,50

2016

-

66,90

2017

-

-

-

Source: Municipality of Skyros (2017)

2

Materials and methods

In the spring and summer of 2017, a questionnaire-based survey supplemented to the two
Greek Aegean islands, in order to explore local’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour
towards waste management of their region, management of ‘special wastes’ as well as the
general environmental awareness in these communities. Also, this study aimed to identify
whether the refugee crisis is affecting the local population’s environmental awareness.

2.1 Research questions
This study sought to answer the following research questions;


To what extent are the inhabitants of the two Aegean Islands environmentally aware?



What is the attitude of the inhabitants of the two Aegean Islands regarding the waste
management of their area?



What are the views of respondents from the two Aegean Islands regarding the
management of special wastes?



What are the views of respondents in the two Aegean Islands on the issue of
recycling?



Are there statistically significant differences between residents of the two Aegean
Islands with regard to their views on all previous issues?



Is there a statistically significant correlation between the attitude towards waste
management and the attitude towards recycling, the attitude towards the management
of special wastes, the environmental awareness and the intention to change and
participate in the solution of the problems caused by the refugees?

2.2 Research area
The research areas were the island of Lesvos, an area that receives large inflows of
refugees and hosts one of the biggest refugees’ camps in Greece, as well as Skyros
Island, an island that is not influenced by the refugees’ inflow at all.

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275

2.3 Research instruments
The primary data was received through a door-to-door survey, using a well-structured
questionnaire based on extended review of the available literature. The questionnaire
contained 30 questions that were divided into three groups. The first group, of six
questions, inquired demographics information, the second group, of six questions,
provided data towards the perceptions of the participants on general environmental issues
and the last group, of 18 questions, supplied information concerning the knowledge, the
perceptions and the willingness to act towards the MSW management and the
management of the ‘special wastes’ produced by the refugees. For the statistical analysis
of the received data SPSS was used.
The secondary data was gathered by the reports of ‘The Hellenic Police’, ‘UNHCR’,
‘The Interior Ministry of Greece (IMG), Department: National Center for Immigration
and Asylum Border Control’, ‘The Hellenic Statistical Authority’, ‘The Municipality of
Skyros’ and ‘The Municipality of Lesvos: Service of Planning Department, Cleanliness,
Recycling, Waste Collection’. The received data was presented through figures and tables
in order to make the results easier comprehended.

2.4 Research sample
The respondents of this study were the inhabitants of Lesvos Island, the total number of
whom were 140, and the inhabitants of Skyros Island, the total number of whom was 141.
The sample was a random selection of residents of those two islands.

3

Results

As it was aforementioned, the questions of the questionnaire used for receiving the data,
were divided into three groups. Consequently, the results are going to be presented in a
similar way. The first group, the demographics’, the second one, information about the
knowledge and perceptions of the participants on general environmental issues and the
third one, provided information according to the knowledge, perceptions and willingness
to act, towards the MSW management and the management of the ‘special wastes’
produced by the refugees.

3.1 Demographics
The research sample was composed of 281 islanders (140 Lesvians and 141 Skyrians).
The Lesvians participated in the survey, were 55.7% women and 44.3% men. The
respondents of the Island of Skyros were of similar sex ratio (56% women and 44%
men).
The demographic breakdown of the sample is listed below in Figures 6 to 9.
Concerning the age of the participants in the survey, most of them appeared to be in the
age group of 36–45 years old in both islands (32.9% in Lesvos and 31.9% in Skyros).
Furthermore most of the respondents were married (47.1% in Lesvos and 49.6% in
Skyros). The number of children for both Lesvians and Skyrians is presented in Figure 10

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with most of participants having no children in both islands (45.8% in Lesvos and 44.7%
in Skyros). Concerning their educational level, Figure 11 shows that the inhabitants of
Lesvos appeared to be in a higher level of educational background than Skyros’
inhabitants.
Figure 6

Inhabitants of Lesvos age groups (see online version for colours)

Figure 7

Inhabitants of Skyros age groups (see online version for colours)

Figure 8

Marital status of Lesvos inhabitants (see online version for colours)

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents
Figure 9

277

Marital status of Skyros inhabitants (see online version for colours)

Figure 10 Lesvians and Skyrians’ number of children (see online version for colours)

Figure 11 Educational level of the residents of Lesvos and Skyros (see online version for colours)

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A. Kounani et al.

Their professional status is presented in Figures 12 and 13. The rate of unemployed was
the same. Variations were seen in the groups of employed (80.8% in Lesvos and 63.7% in
Skyros), the retired (3.1% in Lesvos and 11.3% in Skyros) and the non-employed one
(1.4% in Lesvos and 8.5% in Skyros).
Figure 12 Professional condition of Lesvos islands’ participants (see online version for colours)

Figure 13 Professional condition of Skyros islands’ participants (see online version for colours)

3.2 Lesvos Island’s results
3.2.1 Lesvians’ ‘environmental awareness’
Most of the participants (92.9%) appeared to worry about the environment of their
region, whilst the 5.7% were not perturbing and the 1.4% did not worry at all. At the
same time their beliefs towards the condition of the natural environment globally are
depicted in Figure 14. The predominant answer appeared to be that it ‘is in a deteriorated
environmental status which could still be reversed’ (47%). On the other hand the
participants’ perceptions towards the seriousness of some problems at a global level and
at a country level are presented in Table 4, with the most serious problem for the planet
being ‘poverty, the lack of food and water’ (Mean = 4.46/5) and for Greece being ‘the
illegal movement of refugees’ (Mean = 4.34/5).

4.00
3.97

140
140
140
140
140

Armed conflicts

Nuclear weapons

Climate change

Overpopulation

Valid N

4.14

1.11

1.08

1.14

1.08

0.89

0.94

0.99

0.75

SD

For the planet

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

2

Min

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

Valid N

Overpopulation

Nuclear weapons

Armed conflicts

Climate change

Infectious diseases

A serious economic crisis

Poverty, lack of food and water

Illegal movement of refugees

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and Max = maximum.

3.65

4.03

4.12

140
140

4.2

A serious economic crisis

140

Illegal movement of refugees

4.46

Infectious diseases

140

Poverty, lack of food and water

M

140

140

140

140

140

140

140

140

140

N

M

3.35

3.49

3.55

3.67

3.93

4.31

4.34

4.34

For Greece
SD

1.24

1.39

1.25

1.15

1.04

0.90

1.00

0.88

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Min

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

Table 4

N

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents
Lesvians’ perceptions about how serious are the following problems

279

140

Valid N

3.8

4.08

4.14

4.2

4.24

4.25

4.27

4.38

1.05

0.95

0.90

0.96

0.86

0.86

0.91

0.76

SD

For the planet

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

Min

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

Valid N

Endangered species

Ozone depletion

Air pollution

Climate change

Deforestation

Increase in MSW production

Water pollution

Environmental-climate refugees

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and Max = maximum.

140
140

140

Deforestation

Endangered species

140

Environmental-climate refugees

Ozone depletion

140
140

Air pollution

140

Climate change

Increase in MSW production

140

Water pollution

M

140

140

140

140

140

140

140

140

140

N

For Greece
M

3.33

3.52

3.78

3.83

3.85

4

4.02

4.11

SD

1.26

1.21

1.01

1.17

1.09

0.94

0.96

1.09

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Min

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

Table 5

N

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A. Kounani et al.

Lesvos residents’ aspects about the weightiness of the following environmental
challenges

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281

Figure 14 Inhabitants of Lesvos beliefs about the condition of the natural environment globally
(see online version for colours)

At the same time, Lesvians’ aspects about the weightiness of the some environmental
challenges for the planet and for Greece, on a scale of 1 (not serious at all) to 5
(extremely serious) are depicted in Table 5, and as it is observed the most challenging
issue for the globe is the water pollution (Mean = 3.38), while for the country is ‘the
environmental-climate refugee’ (Mean = 4.11). Their responses on the question how
much they agreed with some statements, on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly
agree) are shown in Table 6. According to their aspects, the first two statements that
Lesvians strongly agreed were ‘the intervention of people in nature has often destroying
consequences’ (M = 4.35) and that ‘if things continue to happen in this manner, planet
will face an imminent and tremendous environmental disaster’ (M = 4.21).
Table 6

Residents of Lesvos standpoint on how much they agree with the statements below
N

M

SD

Min

Max

When people intervene in nature, the consequences are often
devastating

140

4.35

0.83

1

5

If things continue this way, we will soon experience an
ecological disaster

140

4.21

0.88

1

5

Earth has adequate natural resources, if we manage them
properly

140

3.49

1.33

1

5

We are reaching the limit of humans who can live on Earth

140

3.46

1.02

1

5

Earth has limited space and natural resources

140

3.11

1.21

1

5

Science and technology could give the solution of any
environmental problem

140

2.87

1.20

1

5

Humans could modify the environment according their needs

140

2.16

1.13

1

5

Valid N

140

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and
Max = maximum.

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3.2.2 Lesvos residents’ attitude towards waste management, recycling and
management of ‘special wastes’
Most of the participants (90%) appeared to be aware about ‘who collects the MSW of
their region’, ‘where the collected waste is taken for final disposal’ (80.7%), ‘what items
can be recycled through the blue bin recycling in Greece’ (97.9%), ‘where to find a blue
bin for disposing their household recycling wastes’ (97.1%) and ‘the negative effects due
to ill-treated solid waste’ (72.1%). Most of Lesvos residents (94.3%) appeared to worry if
the final disposal of MSW is environmentally safe. Their perceptions towards waste
management of MSW are shown in Table 7, and as it is observed they mostly believe that
‘it is wrong to throw wastes on the roads’ (Mean = 4.78) and that ‘they are bothered to
see wastes on the roads and coasts’ (Mean = 4.77).
Table 7

Lesvians’ perceptions on MSW management
N

M

SD

Min

Max

It is wrong to dispose garbage on the roads

140

4.78

0.55

1

5

I’m bothered to see garbage on the roads and on coasts

140

4.77

0.64

1

5

It is unsafe to dispose waste in places other than that of
sanitary landfill

140

4.5

0.68

1

5

Overconsumption is the main reason for waste problem

140

3.88

0.92

1

5

Waste disposal is a big problem in my region

140

3.71

0.75

1

5

I have enough information for waste management in the
region I live

140

2.66

1.03

1

5

Valid N

140

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and
Max = maximum.
Table 8

Lesvians’ attitudes towards recycling
N

M

SD

Min

Max

140

4.39

0.70

1

5

I have a positive attitude towards recycling

140

4.35

0.64

2

5

By reducing, reusing and recycling waste we help the
environmental preservation

140

4.3

0.81

1

5

Most people that are important to me have positive attitude
towards recycling

140

4.06

0.84

1

5

I have many opportunities to recycle

140

3.62

1.14

1

5

Recycling contributes to the conservation of the environment

I trust the municipality for recycling

140

3.25

1.14

1

5

Recycling is better that reusing

140

3.17

1.14

1

5

The energy demands for recycling overcomes its benefits

140

2.67

0.91

1

5

Recycling causes pollution too

140

2.43

0.96

1

5

Valid N

140

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and
Max = maximum.

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283

A great portion (85%) of the participants recycled their waste and an 82.9% responded
that their family recycled as well. Their attitudes towards recycling are depicted in
Table 8, and it is worth mentioning that they believed that ‘recycling protects the
environment’ (Mean = 4.39) and that ‘they have positive attitude towards recycling’
(Mean = 4.35).
Table 9

Lesvos residents’ attitudes towards ‘special wastes’ issue
N

M

SD

Min

Max

Inadequate ‘special wastes’ collection and disposal influences
tourism

140

4.42

0.86

1

5

Inadequate ‘special wastes’ collection and disposal influences
public health

140

4.26

0.77

1

5

The management of ‘special wastes’ is urgent

140

4.25

0.67

2

5

Recycling plants are needed to solve the ‘special wastes’
problem

140

4.23

0.80

1

5

More staff is needed for cleaning the coasts from ‘special
wastes’

140

4.12

0.99

1

5

Worry about the collection and disposal of ‘special wastes’

140

3.92

0.88

1

5

The solution in refugee crisis will solve the problem of
‘special wastes’

140

3.86

1.20

1

5

More sanitary landfills are needed in order to solve the
problem of ‘special wastes’

140

3.18

1.38

1

5

Be aware of waste management in regions receiving refugees

140

2.91

1.27

1

5

The process of combustion could be a solution to the problem
of ‘special wastes’

140

2.54

1.26

1

5

Valid N

140

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and
Max = maximum.

Lesvian participants’ perceptions on the issue of ‘special wastes’ that their region is being
confronted with are presented in Table 9. Their responses revealed that, ‘the inadequate
special wastes collection and disposal influences tourism’ (Mean = 4.42), ‘the inadequate
special wastes collection and disposal influences public health’ (Mean = 4.26) and ‘the
management of special wastes is urgent’ (Mean = 4.25). As far as being aware of waste
management in refugees’ receiving regions, the corresponding mean was 2.91.
The residents of Lesvos points of view towards the municipality’s way of collecting
the wastes of their region are shown in Figure 15. Concerning their opinions only a
36.2% is satisfied. The rest of them are indifferent (30.5%) and disappointed (31.2%)
Finally, the residents of Lesvos appeared to have the willingness ‘to participate in
protests’ (54.3% of them), ‘to inform the mass media for the condition in MSW
management of their region’ in a 38.6%, ‘to support a NGO in order to exert pressure on
local authorities and government’ (30.7 % of them), ‘to pay for waste
management’(18.6%), ‘to do nothing’ (17.1%) and ‘to move to another Greek region due
to the environmental degradation’ (5.7% of them).

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Figure 15 The extend of Lesvians’ satisfaction towards the way the municipality collects MSW
(see online version for colours)

3.3 Skyros Island’s results
3.3.1 Inhabitants’ environmental awareness
Most of the participants (93.6%) appeared to worry about the environment of their
region, whilst the 6.4 % of them was not perturbing and the 0.7 % did not worry at all. At
the same time their beliefs towards the condition of the natural environment globally are
depicted in Figure 16, in which 54.6% of them chose as their response ‘it is in a
deteriorated environmental status which could still be reversed’. The participants’
perceptions towards the seriousness of some problems both at global level and country
level are presented in Table 10, with most serious problem for the planet being ‘the
nuclear weapons’ (Mean = 4.45) and for Greece ‘poverty, lack of food and water’
(Mean = 4.36), while at the same time they ranked sixth in their preferences the issue of
refugee movement on a global base (Mean = 4.02) and seventh on a national one
(Mean = 3.97).
Figure 16 Inhabitants of Skyros beliefs about the condition of the natural environment globally
(see online version for colours)

141
141
141
141
141
141
141
141

Armed conflicts

Infectious disease

Poverty, lack of food, water

A serious economic crisis

Illegal movement of refugees

Climate change

Overpopulation

Valid N

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

3.87

3.99

4.02

4.05

4.33

4.34

4.34

4.45

Mean

For the planet

1.07

1.09

1.06

0.96

1.02

0.99

0.96

0.9

SD

Valid N

Overpopulation

Illegal movement of refugees

Nuclear weapon

Climate change

Armed conflicts

Infectious disease

A serious economic crisis

Poverty, lack of food, water

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and Max = maximum.

141

Nuclear weapon

Min

141

141

141

141

141

141

141

141

3.94

3.97

4.00

4.02

4.04

4.15

4.27

4.36

M

For Greece
141

N

SD

1.12

0.92

1.23

0.91

1.12

0.93

0.86

0.84

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Min

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

Table 10

N

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents
Skyros residents’ perceptions about how serious are the following problems on
a scale 1 (not serious at all) to 5 (extremely serious)

285

141

Valid N (list wise)

4.04

4.05

4.26

4.27

4.29

4.32

4.38

4.44

0.97

0.97

0.83

0.80

0.94

0.85

0.75

0.82

SD

For the planet

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Min

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

Valid N (list wise)

Environmental-climate refugees

Endangered species

Ozone depletion

Climate change

Increased solid waste

Deforestation

Air pollution

Water pollution

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and Max = maximum.

141

Environmental-climate refugees

141

Deforestation
141

141

Climate change

141

141

Increased solid waste

Endangered species

141

Air pollution

Ozone depletion

141

Water pollution

M

141

141

141

141

141

141

141

141

N

For Greece
M

4.01

4.12

4.15

4.17

4.21

4.23

4.31

4.39

SD

1.04

0.97

0.94

0.94

0.81

0.81

0.82

0.77

1

1

1

1

2

2

1

2

Min

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Max

Table 11

N

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A. Kounani et al.

Skyros residents’ aspects about the weightiness of the following environmental issues

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287

In the sequel, they asked to express their opinion towards the weightiness of the some
environmental challenges for the planet and for Greece, on a scale of 1 (not serious at all)
to 5 (extremely serious), and their aspects are depicted in Table 11. Observing the table, it
is noted that they stated as the most challenging environmental issue for the planet and
the country ‘water pollution’ (Mean = 4.43 and Mean = 4.39, respectively), followed by
‘air pollution’ (Mean = 4.38 and Mean = 4.31, respectively). For Skyrians the issue
of ‘environmental-climate refugees’ is the least challenging issue (Mean = 4.04 and
Mean = 4.01, respectively) globally as well as at a country level. Also, their responses on
the question how much they agreed with some statements, on a scale of 1 (strongly
disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) are shown in Table 12, and the statement they strongly
agreed with is that ‘when people intervene with nature, the consequences are often
devastating’ (Mean = 4.27), followed by ‘if things continue in this way, we will soon
experience an ecological disaster’ (Mean = 4.14).
Table 12

Residents of Skyros standpoint on how much they agree with the following statements
N

M

SD

Min

Max

When people intervene in nature, the consequences are often
devastating

141

4.27

0.91

1

5

If things continue this way, we will soon experience an
ecological disaster

141

4.15

0.98

1

5

Earth has adequate natural resources, if we manage them
properly

141

3.56

1.04

1

5

We are reaching the limit of humans who can live on Earth

141

3.47

0.96

1

5

Earth has limited space and natural resources

141

3.39

1.12

1

5

Science and technology could give the solution of any
environmental problem

141

3.16

1.19

1

5

Humans could modify the environment according their needs

141

2.67

1.26

1

5

Value N

141

Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and
Max = maximum.

3.3.2 Skyros residents’ attitude towards waste management, recycling and
management of ‘special wastes’
Concerning the management of MSW, the residents’ of Skyros Island were asked
knowledge questions. Most of them (85.8%) appeared to be aware about ‘who collects
the MSW of their region’. A 74.5% was knowledgeable on ‘where the collected waste is
taken for its final disposal’, an 89.4 % about ‘what items can be recycled through the
Blue Bin recycling in Greece’, an 88.7% about ‘where to find a blue bin to take
recyclable household wastes’ and a 70.2% about ‘the consequences of ill treated solid
wastes’. Additionally, most of them (90.1%) appeared to be worried about whether the
final disposal of MSW is environmentally safe. Furthermore, their perceptions towards
waste management of MSW are shown in Table 13. According to the aforementioned
table, Skyrians in the mean of 4.68 found distracting to see garbage on the roads and
coasts, while they thought that ‘it is wrong to dispose garbage on the road’
(Mean = 4.67/5). Also they do not seem to agree that ‘they are well-informed about the
management of the wastes in the region they live’ (Mean = 2.51/5). Moreover, 51.8% of

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the participants recycled their wastes and a 51.1% responded that their family recycled as
well. Their attitudes towards recycling are depicted in Table 14, and as it is noted for
Skyrian inhabitants ‘reducing, reusing and recycling wastes boost the environmental
preservation’ (Mean = 4.40/5) and ‘recycling contributes to the conservation of the
environment’ (Mean = 4.38/5).
Table 13

Skyros participants’ perceptions on MSW management

I’ m bothered to see garbage on the roads and on coasts

N

M

SD

Min

Max

141

4.68

0.52

3

5

It is wrong to dispose garbage on the roads

141

4.67

0.5

3

5

It is unsafe to dispose waste in places other than that of
sanitary landfill

141

4.53

0.63

2

5

Overconsumption is the main cause for waste problem

141

3.81

0.85

1

5

Waste disposal is a big problem in my region

141

3.67

0.83

1

5

I have enough information for waste management in the
region I live

141

2.51

0.97

1

5

Valid N
Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and
Max = maximum.
Table 14

Skyros inhabitants’ attitudes towards recycling
N

M

SD

Min

Max

By reducing, reusing and recycling waste we help the
environmental preservation

141

4.40

0.70

3

5

Recycling contributes to the conservation of the environment

141

4.38

0.77

1

5

I have a positive attitude towards recycling

141

4.2

0.79

2

5

Most people that are important to me have positive attitude
towards recycling

141

3.80

1.18

1

5

I have many opportunities to recycle

141

3.27

1.43

1

5

Recycling is better that reusing

141

3.26

1.12

1

5

I trust the municipality for recycling the waste

141

2.80

1.33

1

5

The energy demands for recycling overcomes its benefits

141

2.71

0.99

1

5

Recycling causes pollution too

141

2.43

1.02

1

5

Valid N
Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum and
Max = maximum.

According Skyros participants’ perceptions on the issue of ‘special’ wastes that the
regions receiving refugees are confronting are presented in Table 15. As it is observed
they strongly agreed that ‘the inadequate special waste collection and disposal influences
public health’ (M = 4.31) and then it affects the tourism (Μ = 4.25), while they seemed to
‘be aware about the waste management in regions receiving refugees’ (M = 2.51).

Waste management perceptions of Aegean Islands’ residents
Table 15

289

Skyros residents’ attitudes towards ‘special wastes’
N

M

SD

Min

Max

Inadequate ‘special wastes’ collection and disposal influences
public health

141

4.31

0.68

3

5

Inadequate ‘special wastes’ collection and disposal influences
tourism

141

4.25

0.90

0

5

The management of ‘special wastes’ is urgent

141

4.12

0.73

2

5

Recycling plants are needed to solve the ‘special wastes’
problem

141

4.06

0.78

1

5

Worry about the collection and disposal of ‘special wastes’

141

3.93

0.79

2

5

More staff is needed for cleaning the coasts from ‘special
wastes’

141

3.90

0.75

2

5

The solution in refugee crisis will solve the problem of
‘special wastes’

141

3.43

1.10

1

5

More sanitary landfills are needed in order to solve the
problem of ‘special wastes’

141

3.42

1.18

1

5

Using the process of combustion could solve the problem of
‘special wastes’

141

2.65

1.28

1

5

Be aware of waste management in regions receiving refugees

141

2.51

1.27

1

5

Valid N
Notes: N = sample size, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, Min = minimum,
Max = maximum.
Figure 17 Skyros residents’ extend of satisfaction on the way municipality collects MSW
(see online version for colours)

Their extent of satisfaction towards the way that the municipality collects the waste is
presented in Figure 17, with only a 36.2% being satisfied and just a 0.7% strongly being
satisfied. Finally, the residents of Skyros appeared to have the willingness ‘to participate
in protests’ in a 45.4%, ‘to inform the mass media for the condition of MSW
management in their region’ in a 41.8%, ‘to support a NGO in order to put pressure on
local authorities and government’ in a 31.2%, ‘to pay for waste management’ in a 30.5%,
‘to do nothing’ in a 12.1% and ‘to move to another green region due to the environmental
degradation’ in just a 7.8%.

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3.4 Investigation of possible differences on the ‘total awareness on
environmental issues’ and ‘total attitude towards recycling’ between the
inhabitants of Lesvos and Skyros
An independent sample t-test was conducted in order to compare the ‘total environmental
awareness’ score for the residents of Lesvos Island and those of Skyros Island. There was
a significant difference in scores for Skyros (M = 158.89, SD = 19.94) and Lesvos
[M = 153.06, SD = 20.48; t (–2.417), p = 0.016] Islands. The magnitude of the
differences in the means was small (ETA squared = 0.0205). There was not a significant
difference in scores for Skyros (M = 33.81, SD = 4.86) and Lesvos (M = 34.60,
SD = 4.32) Islands.

3.5 Investigation of possible differences on the ‘total attitude towards waste
management’ between the inhabitants of Lesvos and Skyros
In order to determine the ‘total attitude towards waste management’ of the inhabitants of
each area (Lesvos and Skyros), a total score for the total attitude of all the variables that
concerned the specific topic was measured. An independent sample t-test was conducted
in order to compare the ‘total attitude towards waste management’ score for the residents
of Lesvos Island and those of Skyros Island. There was not a significant difference in
scores for Skyros (M = 19.21, SD = 2.00) and Lesvos (M = 19.88, SD = 4.92) Islands.

3.6 Investigation of possible differences on the ‘total attitude towards
management of special wastes’ between the inhabitants of Lesvos and
Skyros
In order to determine the ‘total attitude towards management of special wastes’ of the
inhabitants of each area (Lesvos and Skyros), a total score for the total attitude of all the
variables that concerned the specific topic was calculated. An independent sample t-test
was conducted in order to compare the ‘total attitude towards management of special
wastes’ score for the residents of Lesvos Island and those of Skyros Island. There was not
a significant difference in scores for Skyros (M = 37.00, SD = 6.71) and Lesvos
(M = 37.72, SD = 4.74) Islands.

3.7 Correlation analysis
The relationship between ‘total environmental awareness’, ‘total attitude towards waste
management’, ‘total attitude towards recycling’ and ‘total attitude towards management
of special wastes’, was investigated using Pearson product-moment correlation
coefficient. There was a positive correlation between the four variables with high levels
of ‘total attitude towards special waste management’ associated with high levels of ‘total
environmental awareness’, ‘total attitude towards waste management’ and ‘total attitude
towards recycling’. There was a small positive correlation between ‘total attitude towards
recycling’ and ‘total environmental awareness’ [t = 0. 219, n = 281, p = 0.000]. There
was a small positive correlation between ‘total environmental awareness’ and ‘total
attitude towards waste management’ [t = 0.237, n = 281, p = 0.000]. Also, there was a
small positive correlation between ‘total environmental awareness’ and ‘total attitude
towards management of special wastes’ [t = 0.181, n = 281, p = 0.02]. There was a

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moderate positive correlation between ‘total attitude towards recycling’ and ‘total attitude
towards management of special wastes’ [t = 0.474, n = 281, p = 0.000].

3.8 Multiple regression analysis
A multiple regression analysis revealed a statistically significant effect of ‘total attitude
towards recycling’ on ‘total attitude towards management of special wastes’ (R2 = 0.251,
B = 0.424, t = 7.7, p < 0.0010), indicating a percentage 25.1% of the variance of the ‘total
attitude towards management of special wastes’ being predicted by the ‘total attitude
towards recycling’.

4

Discussion

Studying the results of the conducted research, it is of best interest to address questions in
groups, and then to make comparisons among them.

4.1 Total environmental awareness
Concerning the general environmental issues the inhabitants of Lesvos face, as they
reside in an area that is a receiving point of mass inflows of refugees, the most serious
problem, that the planet is being confronted with is ‘poverty, lack of food and water’.
Moreover, they appeared to think that ‘environmental climate refugees’ was the most
serious environmental challenge that Greece is facing in our days.
In contrary, concerning the general environmental issues the inhabitants of Skyros
Island face, being an island that is not affected by the refugee crisis, the most serious
problem that the planet is being confronted with is the ‘nuclear weapons’. Moreover they
appeared to think that ‘water pollution’ was the most serious environmental challenge
that Greece is facing .The issue of the ‘MSW management was reported as the 3rd one
for Greece and the forth one for the globe.
The aforementioned dissimilarities of estimations are obviously due to the fact that
the inhabitants of the two islands have different experiences in their everyday life. As life
experiences influence individuals’ environmental awareness (Skanavis, 2004; Torkar,
2014), the residents of Lesvos appeared to be more conscious regarding the refugee crisis
affecting Greece.
Moreover, the independent sample t-test conducted in order to compare the ‘total
environmental awareness’ of the inhabitants of the two islands, it revealed that there was
a significant difference in scores, with the inhabitants of Skyros appearing to be more
environmentally aware. Skyros is a small island, multi-awarded for its environmentally
friendly actions and the implementation of Skyros Project. This project, being a
collaboration of the Aegean University and Skyros Port Authority has marked the
responsible environmental behaviour of locals. So, most of the participants in this
specific research may have participated in environmental activities or/and in
environmental educational programs that were conducted at Skyros island. Several
researchers have emphasised that environmental education experiences raise
environmental awareness and motivate individuals to adopt environmentally responsible
behaviour (Skanavis, 2004).

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4.2 Attitude towards waste management, recycling and management of
‘special’ wastes
Concerning waste management of their region both residents of Lesvos Island and
residents of Skyros Island had a similar attitude, with only slight difference. For instance
Lesvians appeared to be aware of who collects the MSW in their region, while 85.8%
was the rate for Skyrians. Also 80.7% of Lesvians were enlightened on the place the
collected MSW are transferred for final disposal, whilst 74.5% was the portion for
Skyrians. Moreover, a 72.1% of Lesvos’ inhabitants were mindful of the negative effects
of ill-treated solid waste, while the percentage for Skyrians was 70.2. The independent
sample t-test that was conducted in order to compare the ‘total attitude towards waste
management’ score for the residents of Lesvos Island and those of Skyros Island showed
that there was not a significant difference in scores for the aforementioned islands.
On the other hand, concerning the attitude towards recycling, the residents of Lesvos
appeared to recycle in a 85% of and their families in a 82.9%, while the inhabitants of
Skyros recycled in the 51.8% and their families in 51.1%. Lesvos Island is the area where
the Department of Environment of the University of the Aegean, and specifically the
Research Centre of Environmental Education and Communication is based, so Lesvians
have had the opportunity to participate in educational campaigns towards recycling and
waste management several times. An increase in this attitude is quite expected.
In contrary with this difference the independent sample t-test, that was conducted, in
order to compare the ‘total attitude towards recycling’ score for the residents of Lesvos
Island and those of Skyros Island, indicated that there was not a significant difference in
scores. Skyrians have positive attitude towards recycling but finally they do not recycle, a
fact that probably is due to their lack of trust in the municipality. The recyclables in
Skyros Island are supposed to be collected and transferred to the Greek mainland by the
municipality, where the recycle centres exist. Therefore, as the transport of the
recyclables to main land is costly, there are suspicions that they are not recycled but
transferred to the landfill of Skyros along with the other wastes. Subsequently, although
Skyrians are environmentally aware, the lack of confidence for the fate of their recycling
efforts has inactivated them.
Referring to the management of special wastes there is not a great variance between
the responses of Lesvians and Skyrians, as it is observed when comparing Table 9 with
Table 15. Lesvians appeared to be more indifferent concerning their satisfaction towards
the waste collection by the municipality. Although Lesvians are civilians in a region that
receives a great amount of refugees, they do not seem to be well informed about the
situation that their municipality is being confronted with. Maybe if they knew the real
extend of the problem they would be more active and more environmentally responsible
as citizens. On the other hand Skyrians, who are citizens of an area that is not affected
directly of the refugees’ arrivals, have similar to the Lesvians’ attitude and willingness to
behave concerning the MSW and the special wastes management.

4.3 Correlation analysis
Regarding the association between the four variables, it is revealed that high levels of
‘total attitude towards special wastes management’ are associated with high levels of
‘total environmental awareness’, ‘total attitude towards waste management’ and ‘total
attitude towards recycling’. So, the higher the levels of the ‘environmental awareness’ of

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an individual are, the more positive his/her attitude towards ‘special wastes
management’, ‘waste management’ and ‘recycling’ are going to be.

4.4 Multiple regression analysis
Multiple regression analysis revealed that the ‘total attitude towards management of
special wastes’ is predicted by the ‘total attitude towards recycling’, which means that
individuals supporting recycling would be the ones who also have a positive attitude
towards the issue of ‘special wastes’ management.

4.5 Research limitations
The participants of the survey were residents of the main areas of both islands, the port of
Mytilene and the port and town of Skyros, where residents do come in contact with other
cultures and are as a result more open-minded. This survey should be implemented into
other areas of the islands as well.

5

Conclusions

Greece, the main transit point for refugees who arrive on European shores, is among the
countries that are less financially able to handle the influx. The biggest impact refugees
have on waste production is because of their safety equipment: lifejackets, inflatable
boats and belts. When it comes to solid waste, there is a large increase because of them
staying many days into camps. Therefore, overpopulation of Lesvos Island is projected
that it could cause significant environmental degradation. Currently the obvious impact of
the advent of large refugee flows is the growing environmental degradation of the region,
which will directly affect the tourism sector, the agricultural sector, as well as, the
economic and the social one.
The issue of MSW management as well as the management of ‘special wastes’ is of
paramount importance in the areas of large migratory flows such as Lesvos. In any case
MSW management is an issue of great importance in Greece. So managing MSW and
‘special wastes’ in a sustainable way is vital. Though the local authorities of Lesvos have
made proposals to address the pressures caused by the large volumes of ‘special wastes’,
no solution or practice has yet been implemented (Bletsa, 2014). The data of this research
revealed that the residents of Lesvos Island are less environmentally aware than those of
Skyros Island, while at the same time they indicate that there is little difference between
Skyros and Lesvos with regard to respondents’ perception and awareness of municipal
waste and the ‘special wastes’. It does not mean that the refugee crisis is not perceived as
a contributing one, to the municipal wastes problem by the residents in Lesvos. It seemed
that Lesvians are not well-informed about the extent of the problem that refugees’
inflows pose to the waste management of their region. The similarities of the two groups
are not indicative of Greek culture, values and attitudes towards wastes. Lesvians seemed
to be misinformed about the environmental degradation caused by refugee crisis on their
region, since the Greek authorities do not successfully communicate the issues of waste
management and ‘special wastes’ to public. Lesvos Island is the area where the
Department of Environment of the University of the Aegean, and specifically the

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Research Centre of Environmental Education and Communication are located, so
Lesvians are people who have had the opportunity to be exposed on educational
campaigns towards recycling and waste management quite often. As Lesvians appeared
to be unaware about the extent of the issue of special wastes and how it influences the
environmental sustainability of their region, they did not seem to have augmented
environmental consciousness, compared with regions that are not affected by mass
refugee inflows.
On the other hand, this research paper argues that the total environmental awareness
of an individual is directly associated with their environmental attitude, and specifically
in this case to their attitude towards waste management, recycling and special waste
management. Consequently, raising environmental awareness of public could lead to
increased positive attitude on the great issue of waste management. Furthermore,
provided that public’s positive attitude towards recycling predicts the positive attitude to
special wastes issue, by recycling more, residents at areas of concern could contribute
positively to the solution of the issue of special wastes. Hence, creating training programs
for Greek inhabitants in order to increase publics’ awareness and alter their attitude and
behaviour into responsible environmental behaviour could develop the basis for the
active participation of above mentioned locals in this significant environmental issue. The
purpose of offering a specific educational program in host and non-host regions is to
attempt to increase resilient and adapting communities. Furthermore, Greek civilians will
learn how to cope with pressing situations, and specifically, those related to refugees’
settlements, in order to reduce their vulnerability and prevent their own deteriorating
conditions. Survival skills will be taught for situations where natural resources are scarce.
Consequently, Greek civilians will hopefully turn into active citizens who will eventually
participate into actions that will contribute to the resilience of their region. Launching
awareness campaigns to locals, enabling them to tackle environmental concerns and
ethics, hygiene and proper applications, is an issue of tremendous importance. Citizens
need to socially cope with arriving refugees in their country by taking part to projects,
and allocating aid resources to providing appropriate help to those in need (Kherfan,
2016) while in return experiencing the beauty of assisting those who are in despair
(Kounani and Skanavis, 2018a).

5.1 Implication for further research
As this problem is continuously growing it would be interesting to implement the same
survey into a region of the Greek mainland where refugees are resettled in order to
evaluate their opinions and their attitudes towards significant environmental issues. It
would be challenging to implement an educational program in order to raise their
awareness, promote responsible environmental behaviour and active participation on the
various environmental issues.

Acknowledgements
We would like to express our appreciation to Mrs. Georgia Bletsa, Head of Service of
Planning Department, Cleanliness, Recycling, Waste Collection of the Municipality of
Lesvos for the supplied data, Mr. Emmanouil Avgerinos and Mrs. Paraskevi Theodorou
for their support in data collection.

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