Sara El-Yafi featured on “The Urban Monk” Podcast: Turning Garbage into Energy

Sara El-Yafi featured on “The Urban Monk” Podcast: Turning Garbage into Energy



I’m here to talk trash. Over the past year, as you probably know, I have been endlessly lobbying for the right solution to the waste catastrophe to be implemented in Lebanon in my capacity as “national expert on waste-to-energy”, as one of the ministers once called me on TV.
Anyone else competing for that title will be challenged to a duel on top of a mountain of trash. Come forward now, or forever hold your peace (and your nose since, you know, the smell and stuff…).

Famed author, physician, and documentary filmmaker, Dr. Pedram Shojai, known as the Urban Monk, (check out his book) all the way in California heard of all these efforts, and hosted me on his podcast to discuss my work and the Lebanese waste crisis. This happened in Los Angeles, CA. 12,000 km away from Beirut. This media personality in LA was more interested in this clean work in Lebanon than most of the news outlets here in Beirut. It is an honor.

You may either read the transcript of my interview, and/or you can watch the interview to see how I speak with my hands.

Here is the link:

As always, your thoughts and opinions are more than appreciated.




Written by Sara El-Yafi


  1. Jad Ghazal · October 4, 2016

    Lebanon’s ray of hope. Sara El-Yafi, we’re proud of you!

  2. Ali Al-Khalil · October 4, 2016

    the incredible & impressive Sara El-Yafi is at it again…must watch

  3. Youmna N. Mahmassani · October 4, 2016

    “Lebanon is the size of Connecticut with 6,5 million people… and it wasn’t until recently that people started asking questions like where does the trash go?”
    Sara El-Yafi ‘s take on feudal lords, waste to energy solutions and a brief on the 40’s to 70’s era. A joy to watch 😊

  4. Sobhi Itani · October 4, 2016

    Wow. I have been following your brilliant work closely, and I have to say that Lebanon is extremely lucky to have someone as brave, knowledgeable and SMART as you working on such a difficult file. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Sara El-Yafi.

  5. Larry O'Connell · October 4, 2016

    You’re really, really impressive.

  6. Carmen Ruf · October 4, 2016

    Really impressive!

  7. Tanya Kassem · October 4, 2016

    You really amaze me, Sara. You really should be calling the shots. How can we help?

  8. Nadine Ayoub · October 4, 2016

    Amazing and super promising.. And I say that again #saraforpresident 😇

  9. Naim Nas · October 4, 2016

    Sara the problem is not the mountain of trash…….and how ever i can help i will cause i really trust you to do your best to make changes …….

  10. Sarah Beaini Rafeh · October 4, 2016

    Amazing work , Sara! Speaking with your hands just proves how much you’re enthusiastic about making your country cleaner ! One question , though : was your host having Yerba matte🤔?

  11. Pat Almeida · October 4, 2016

    What an eye-opener…

  12. Jy Jreissati · October 4, 2016

    Our national expert !!!

  13. Dana Mansour Hable · October 4, 2016

    Please forget about being president in Lebanon!
    Can u please consider running for that office here in the States??
    Because we have 2 piles of garbage running right now and our stomachs are turning over!

  14. Ahmad Mohtadi · October 4, 2016

    Very knowledgeable information and impressive talk. Love the hand movements… Very Lebanese .

  15. Ralph Kaldawy · October 4, 2016

    How well versed and informed you are about this issue. It’s a shame the people in power are way too ignorant and/or corrupt to resolve this. Please keep fighting for a change.

    P.S. Btw keep waving your hands, it hints at how passionate and enthusiastic you are about your work.

  16. Sparkileptic King · October 4, 2016

    Well done. Educators are always a joy to observe, and you are no exception. A couple of points, however. Throwing in the statistic of 60 people contracting cancer for living on “cancer street” sounds anecdotal and expedient to your mission for waste management. I of course acknowledge the health risks involved, but I’m sure cancer is not the key malady as there are other more obvious, and easier to contract, diseases. This is all speculative at any case, and to avoid digressing any further, I shall move on.

    You speak with a tone of experience in Lebanese politics and those of the Levant. However, there is a tinge of idealism that while may satisfy the ears of those empathetic with the country’s condition, says little to those actually living there. Yes, we have always been aware of this impending crisis as a people, and Beirut Madinati certainly pushed the envelope farther than any of us could have thought possible, but if you believe education is the problem, I sadly disagree.

    I am an educator at heart, please understand, and I believe that all problems can be solved with the right guidance and inspiration. Unfortunately, Lebanon is an exception to every possible situation your beautiful, brilliant mind can simulate. Anyone with half the wisdom you employ would write off the country as a sinkhole waiting to happen, yet it is still here.

    What the country needs is nihilists with a penchant for activism. Walking into the parliament, as an activist or a stout, educated social worker, discussing waste-to-energy processes that will save the country, without paying heed to how much each member’s pockets are lined, is futile.

    Rebellion is the only way out of this travesty. People will suffer, as is the case with our generation, as was the case with our parents’. We all want a peaceful, streamlined process to take place, but where and when will this reverie end?

    Keep up the struggle, and please never stop being the inspiration that you naturally are, but before any additional steps can be achieved, the truth needs to be articulated, embraced, and accepted in its entirety.

    You are a conscious, aware woman. Don’t let Lebanon drag you down too much. Also, I wouldn’t worry about your gesticulation. It underscores your passion and articulates your communication the way mine does for me.

  17. Christy Cortright Mawdsley · October 4, 2016

    That was great. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Joe Bahout · October 4, 2016

    Brilliant 👍

  19. Mohamad Abdul-Hamid Ajam · October 4, 2016

    About the hands language: the gestures were more to categorize and describe processes than to show an emotional response. They were totally synchronized with the verbal messages. In short — and to me– , they depict the didactic nature of Sarah , they convey trust and establish charisma. Keep them moving Sara!

  20. Lon Fiala · October 4, 2016

    Amazing as always.

  21. Youmna N. Mahmassani · October 4, 2016

    Talks await 🙂 Thank you for making my morning coffee so very enjoyable as I watched this – and to echo Sparkileptic King – it may seem hopeless sometimes to try and challenge the stubborn status quo Lebanon has held for so long on so many issues. However, all realities start with an idealism of some sort but to follow it through thoroughly takes courage and wisdom. Onwards and upwards Sara El-Yafi 🌷

  22. Joseph Jeong · October 4, 2016

    Amazing work Sara! Keep it up! By the way can u run for president in the US? 😊💪

  23. Gail Antabi · October 4, 2016

    Amazing Sara Tks for helping the planet u never cease to amaze m

  24. Boubacar Thiam · October 4, 2016

    Tres bien dit!

  25. Rima Ghanem Bahout · October 4, 2016

    Amazing! Gorgeous! Talented!!WOW!✌😍😍😍

  26. Jamal Tayara-Baroudy · October 4, 2016

    Sara El-Yafi my 14 year old is now following you 😉 (reads your blog)

  27. Noor Nasralah · October 4, 2016

    Amazing / Brilliant / Smart 👍🏼 How i wish we can have you in the Council of Ministers

  28. Salwa Hadati · October 4, 2016

    Brillant way Sara El-Yafi

  29. Gail Antabi · October 4, 2016


  30. Joumana El-Yafi · October 4, 2016

    You are not only a national expert Sara El Yafi,you are a national treasure❤️

  31. Lina Hamadeh · October 4, 2016


  32. Sue Yafi Omary · October 4, 2016

    Very interesting, if it works, it will save the country, bravo Sara for your effort , hope they will appreciate what you are trying to do.

  33. Georges Tawil · October 4, 2016

    Good job sara. We are all here to support you

  34. Amal Mazloum · October 4, 2016


  35. Doha Sakka · October 4, 2016

    Good luck to you I am sure your parents are very proud of you

  36. Rima Mardam Bey · October 4, 2016


  37. Mona Yafi · October 4, 2016

    Awesome Sara

  38. Nahila El Yafi · October 4, 2016

    Bravo !!!
    hoping you ´ll arrive to your aim soon soon soon … we are really fed up !!!!

  39. Dimitri Trad · October 4, 2016

    Bravo dear friend. So proud of your mobilization.

  40. J. E. Y · October 4, 2016

    With young people like you,Sara El Yafi,striving for the welfare of their country despite all disappointments,and dead consciences,we keep the faith and the hope for the Lebanon we dream of.
    GO GIRL👍👏💖

    • Joumana · October 4, 2016

      Sara,your interview:A pleasure for the eyes,knowledge for the ears,food for the brain and hope for the soul.
      God bless you and your great efforts.

  41. Leila Jaroudi · October 4, 2016

    Way to go Sara! We need more young people like you !txs don’f give up

  42. Nabila Dada Mekkawi · October 4, 2016

    God bless you Sara Habibti

  43. Ta Kara · October 4, 2016

    Have to settle for the transcript now that I’m in Lebanon.. Btemshe #notjusttrashstreets #trashinternet

  44. Jay Toups · October 4, 2016

    Hi Sara, it was a pleasure to learn of you and your work. Lebanon’s garbage problems are the world’s problems with regional wrinkles (deep ones), and I appreciate your grasp of the intricacies of waste to energy. As you state, “Anyone else competing for that title will be challenged to a duel on top of a mountain of trash.” I think we’re all in a death-defying duel over trash, pollution, etc., but most humans aren’t paying attention so don’t realize it yet. I’d be happy to share some info about our GTL fuel (alcohols) venture. Our mission is to get W2E done right and serve up alcohol fuel that doesn’t insult the intellect or the environment. If that reads like a corny duel challenge, well, put up yer dukes. 😉 Cheers and vbr from Montana.

  45. Elias Rizk · October 4, 2016

    I support you Sara El-Yafi

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