Lonely Planet Writer

Lake Geneva gets a spring clean this weekend, 1500 volunteers expected

Switzerland’s largest lake is due a spruce-up this weekend, with as many as 1,500 volunteers expected to visit the shores of Lake Geneva as part of a major cleaning project.

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva

The initiative, called Net’Léman, has been running since 2005 and organises regular clean-ups of the lake, as well as raising awareness about the impact of pollution on the environment. Since 2005, volunteers have collected more than 100 tonnes of junk, including some rather bizarre finds – a mattress, safe and Rolex watch have all been found in the water along with more predictable rubbish such as plastic bags and bottles.

Adrien Bonny, from the Association for the Safeguard of Lake Geneva (ASL), says the aims of the weekend are to help people understand the damage done by littering as well as cleaning Lake Geneva’s shores. He told The Local: “The first is to clean the lake and make it cleaner and prettier so we can have a lake in good health and not have it get too polluted. The other reason is to raise public awareness, to show them the importance of the lake.”

Lake Geneva due for a clean up this weekend.
Lake Geneva due for a clean up this weekend. Image by Lonely Planet

The emphasis of the event this year will be on plastic, which research has shown to be one of the biggest problems for Lake Geneva. Bonny added: “In the rubbish that we take out of the lake, a good portion of it is plastic. The problem with plastic is that it’s not biodegradable. Plastic only breaks up into pieces, smaller and smaller, and then it gets into the food chain, animals eat it.” A number of educational events will be held alongside the cleaning activities this weekend and will be free to attend. Participants can join in birdwatching sessions, paddleboarding lessons, games and workshops on how to make art from driftwood.