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World Cleanup 2012

Clean up World 2012 started in Slovenia

For the second time since 2010, Clean Up Slovenia 2012 gathered 270,000 volunteers (that’s 15 per cent of the country’s population!). In Portugal they had the same aim, but only one per cent of the population there turned up to clean the rubbish dumped in nature and on the green patches in towns and cities. So far, 15 countries in the world have organised such one-day clean-ups.

The idea of cleaning up the country in one day was first realised in Estonia in 2008. It soon gained ground in the green Slovenia, which sadly has quite a few illegal dumps in nature. Mostly they are waste from construction, asbestos, tires and plain tin or aluminium cans and plastic of all sorts. With electronic, GPS-updated register of illegal dumps and thousands of volunteers and coordinators working all year round, the Slovenian NGO Ecologists Without Borders co-ordinated a network of organisations and supporters (including the president of Slovenia and members of the government and the parliament), which resulted in 270,000 volunteers cleaning the environment. Around 70,000 cubic meters or 15,000 tonnes of rubbish that had been inappropriately discarded were cleaned up.

These numbers impressed the Estonians so much that they told Bosnians – who turned to them for advice on how to organise such a massive event this year – that they should also seek advice from the event’s organisers in Slovenia. On 24 March this year, Slovenia again managed to gather 270,000 volunteers, but this time as part of Clean Up World 2012. As many as 85 countries are preparing to launch the biggest volunteer gathering in history before the end of September. Three hundred million volunteers are expected all over the world.

Clean Up Slovenia in One Day owes its success to the fact that the whole thing was at all times extremely positive. We love our green country, and we love to do good things together, as a community. Many celebrities and politicians joined, the media was full of positive articles. The crowd of volunteers also showed the power of civil society striving for one common goal. And this crowd asked for some changes in politics too, especially regarding certain articles of the Environmental Protection Act, because illegal dumping is not adequately regulated in Slovenia.

More illustrative were the words of the organisers. “Fifty inspectors cannot control two million people dealing with waste, we are all inspectors,” was one of the slogans.

“We are very lucky, because everybody knows what a waste is. It would be much more difficult to get masses to fight climate change and save scarce resources, although with gathering waste from nature we do all this.”

“It is very important to know that you can do something good. Anything else leads to apathy, helplessness.”

“Years ago the highlight of civil society movements was to protest on the streets, demanding something from the government. Now comes the actual turnaround, we are all country.  Everyone should become a model for others.”

The cleaning project is also very cost-effective. Campaign organisers needed €1.3m, but the value of the project done by volunteers is estimated at €15 to 20 million. In some municipalities, more than a third of all residents cleaned the environment without any pay, proud to be the part of  the country’s biggest environmental campaign ever.

My Delo team had T-shirts saying “Clean environment, clean consciousness”.

Some cleaning to do

The day before 22 April, the Earth Day, volunteers cleaned the Russian Kaliningrad, Spain, Croatia, Lithuania, California, Latvia and Austria, on Earth Day the cleaning went to Bangladesh, then later to Ukraine, Greece, Estonia, and Mexico. The upcoming clean-up schedule is as follows:

9 May: Albania

10 May: Finland and the Democratic Republic of Congo

12 May: Bulgaria, Turkey, Moldova and Romania

13 May: Britain

19 May: Algeria and El Salvador

24 May: Mali and Kosovo

5 June: Nepal

6 June: Cameroon

30 June: Ghana

1 July: Malaysia

8 July: Venezuela

29 July: Saint Lucia

18 August: Trinidad and Tobago

8 September: Lebanon

10 September: South Africa

15 September: Russia, the Philippines and Armenia

21 September: the Netherlands

22 September: Belgium, Germany and France

30 September: Italy

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About The Author(s)

Borut Tavcar

Borut Tavcar

Journalist, editor

A 41 years old journalist, dealing with environmental issues for 20 years and energy related topics for four years. No time for many things but I try to give enough quality time to my two doughters. Last year I've got another engagement when I became an editor of Green Delo page in daily newspaper Delo.

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