Massive civic led waste cleanups took place in 2015 as part of the Let’s Do It! World Cleanup 2015 project. 3,4 million people in 34 countries collected about 45 000 tonnes of illegal waste which otherwise would have been left in the nature continuing to damage our environment.
Littering and illegal waste causes chronic diseases, endangers animals and birds, and pollutes our soil, water and air. Poor waste management has also been proven to contribute to climate change. In several countries, piling up of waste has caused flooding and destruction which are to blame for the deaths of thousands of people. Illegal waste dumping has in some areas has skyrocketed the incidences of tumors, autism and serious respiratory diseases.
Albania, Kenya, Libya, Macedonia (F.R.Y), Philippines, Russia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Romania, Colombia, Kosovo, Finland, Belarus, Hungary, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Malta, Estonia, Greece, Cyprus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia and Czech Republic stood up against the massive littering and waste problem in 2015. The biggest cleanups were held in Sweden (804 570), Ukraine (500 000), Lithuania (250 000), Hungary (170 000), Latvia (175 000) and Albania (150 000). In additional, the Let’s Do It! Mediterranean sea cleanup action was held in May, uniting 13 countries around the Mediterranean Sea to clean up litter and draw attention to pollution of the sea.
The movement began in Estonia in 2008 when 50 000 people came together and cleaned up their entire country in five hours, removing 10 000 tonnes of waste and saving the government three years of work and 22 million Euros (see a video about the action here). Today, Let’s Do It! is a global network of 112 countries, having engaged a total of more than 14.5 million participants.
However, Let’s Do It! is not just about dealing with the consequences of poor waste management and low awareness. “We are not only a movement of cleaning up – we want to create a lasting change. This change is already visible in Slovenia for example, which held a massive waste cleanup campaign with 273 000 people just few years ago. Now, using the high awareness coming from the cleanup, the same group of people who initiated the mass cleanup, are guiding Slovenia towards the Zero Waste model,” explained Rainer Nõlvak, founder of the Let’s Do It! movement. The city of Ljubljana in Slovenia is also the first capital in Europe to adopt a Zero Waste strategy, according to Zero Waste Europe.
“People have learned to ignore the problem so successfully, that they don’t even notice it anymore. This is why we need a global cooperation and action to really address the issue to start living responsibly, because this is the only planet we have,” he added.
Let’s Do It! groups’ around the world pay a lot of attention to education as well. In several countries, programmes and cooperation with schools have helped young people better understand how products are made, what is the environmental impact of creating them, and why it is important to recycle.
The international network of Let’s Do It! aims to solve the illegal dumping problem on a local and global level both short and long term – by engaging a large part of the society in the cleanup activity on an action day, raising the issues related to illegal dumping, and engaging both experts, political and local leaders to find more sustainable systemic solutions.
Let’s Do It! World Cleanup 2015 activities were supported by by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid fund, the Estonian Ministry of the Environment, the Open Estonia Foundation, Skype, QlikView, Tallink Group, DHL Estonia, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Interlex Translations, Meedius Estonia, Sendsmaily and EuroPark Estonia.
Let’s Do It! World Cleanup Engaged Over 3,4 Million Volunteers to Clean Up Waste Last Year
Posted on February 4, 2016 in Letsdoit