Cleaning Up The World
Apart from coordinating an annual clean up day that engages over 150 countries around the globe, World Cleanup Day is concerned with tackling waste production and management all year round. We spoke to Heidi Solba, Head of their Global Network, about some of the complexities of the global waste problem.
Listen here or find us on your favorite podcast app.
October 4, 2020
World Cleanup Day
Let’s rid the world of trash!
In 2030 we might have more cigarette butts than fish in the sea. 6 trillion cigarette butts are produced each year and 75% of them end up in nature. These small items of litter contain over 150 toxins and can take up to 15 years to decay*. Somehow, this form of littering is more socially acceptable than others, despite the fact that it’s one of the most pervasive forms of plastic pollution on our planet.
These are exactly the kinds of problems World Cleanup Day is trying to solve. It all started back in 2008 when 4% of the Estonian population joined forces to clean up their country in a day**; and thus, after a domino effect of similar cleanup days in different countries, World Cleanup Day was born.
Apart from coordinating an annual clean up day that engages over 150 countries around the globe, the organisation is concerned with tackling waste production and management all year round. We spoke to Heidi Solba, Head of their Global Network, about some of the complexities of the global waste problem. She highlighted that the organisation focuses on engaging governments and corporations just as much as local communities. They also address the issue of digital trash with their Digital Cleanup Day. Apparently, the internet and systems supporting it accounts for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions***, which is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry!!
If you now feel like starting your own digital cleanup, you can follow the instructions on this page. Heidi also gave us some general advice on cleaning up. Her top tips include “make a compost”, “don’t use single use plastic” and “if you go to the markets, use your own bags”.
Despite talking about trash, Heidi maintains a positive and uplifting attitude. When asked how World Cleanup Day feels she responds “You are in connection with the earth. You are in connection with the energy between the people; And you are doing together something really good and it's visible. You can feel it in your body.”
If you want to get involved in the next World Cleanup Day, sign up with your national representative here.
*The figures quoted have been taken from studies worldcleanupday.org rely on and can be found here.
Great.com's main goal is to generate money by bringing you the best online casino reviews. We then donate that money to the most influential causes driving change in the world. You can read our reviews and take a quick look at some of the most popular online casinos in New Jersey and Sweden.
[00:00:00] Hi and welcome to Great.com Talks with… worldcleanupday.org. And if you’re new to our podcast, the purpose of this and why we do this is to introduce you to exciting charities, organizations, and we want to explain what they do in a way that is easy to understand, even if you might not be familiar with their cause and the challenges that they are facing. And today we are here with the World Cleanup Day. I think the organization’s name says a lot about what they do, and I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot more details. But something I found interesting on their website is that on the 21st of September in 2019, they united more than 20 million people in 180 countries, 20 million people to come together and rid the world of trash. And I’m sure we’re going to hear more about that. And today, I’m here with Heidi Solba. Heidi, how are you today?
[00:01:10] Hello. Thank you for having me here. I’m excited to have and be in this podcast. Thank you for inviting me.
[00:01:17] It’s a pleasure. I’m very excited as well. So if you would want to explain your organization more in depth to someone that is not familiar with the costs, how would you describe yourself?
[00:01:29] Yes, you just mentioned the word clean up. Say the word clean up. Is the biggest campaign done by Let’s Do It world network countries. And you just mentioned the name. Yes, we have one hundred eighty countries who are leading the world clean up day. And it’s a civic movement started to resonate from Estonia and now it’s grown so fast, so big. And apparently their waste and environmental topics are really important for the people. And therefore we do have and lead this kind of huge, huge network of doers with this really, because it means that this organization does have a movement and working and active teams with leaders basically in each one hundred eighty countries and for were clean up. But not just that, we are also doing different kinds of other projects.
[00:02:27] Mm. It warms my heart to hear about this project, because I see this having benefits and ripple effects more than just the fact that trash is being removed from streets, forests and rivers. I see people that are doers, like you mentioned, coming together. And they can network, they can meet other like minded people that also care about the environment. I see some of the ripple effects of the work that you do, so. Is there something that you think the average European or American citizen doesn’t know about the costs and about the problems with trash that you see that you would like for them to know?
[00:03:12] Yes, then we have to talk about blindness. There are many countries who are living in the trash and the waste is surrounding them. It’s like becoming a new normality. And you don’t you don’t know or recognize or not think enough about what kind of harm it’s causing for their human’s health and environment in a bigger, bigger and longer perspective or interest blindness. If you actually also are consuming the lard, there are different kinds of countries who are cleaning up really too much or have very good kinds of systems to clean up the waste from the streets. And you cannot see there, there is the waste around you. So as organization, we are we are calling it like address blindness and what we are doing is to working against it and raising through this kind of campaign, which is a clean update, their understanding what is a waste situation in the world and how much actually each person in the world can influence to change the situation in our planet. And through this movement, I think which is really important also to people to know is we are engaging not just communities or our students or teachers, but also the governments and different kinds of corporations. And it’s really important because the waste problem itself is really complex. It’s a question about how we are producing and packaging, but also how we are managing the waste later on.
So it means that for their waste or environmental questions, we don’t have multiple different kinds of stakeholders who are supposed to work on it. And the clean up like any kind of another campaign who is bringing people together from different kinds of societies and backgrounds is creating a great momentum to bring the people together to find the solutions. And we know that if you bring the people together to pick up the waste, then the behavior of the people will be changing. It’s it’s it’s it’s something what we have been studying for the survey, but also it’s my personal experience in 2008 when we had the first clean up in a studio when we just work with our country and we engage five percent of our earth of our country’s population, and actually we change Estonia forever because of that work, it’s changing me as well. And I saw the impact that I’m not just littering myself, of course, and obviously, but I also prevent other people from doing it. And we also made a study in 2013 to see how their countries will be changing before the clean up and after a clean up day. And we picked up three countries to go to study.
[00:06:28] One was South Africa. And then we have France and also Indonesia. And in this first world in 2018, we saw that the impact is created only in those countries when we engage 2.5 percent of the Earth’s population when we actually did in Indonesia. So we engaged with seven point sixty seven billion people in Indonesia. And we saw that there is, in fact, about the awareness and behavior of the people. This is what the survey showed us before the return of the end of the day. Therefore, it’s really needed that we engage as many people as possible for the media, for different stakeholders. We can change the situation with the waste of surrounding us on a daily base. And always there is a question of what people can do by themselves, of course. And yeah, you can segregate things, but you have to segregate it to be a waste because we are saying that we’re not doing well, that the waste is wasted only when it’s wasted. So the first thing is just take out this old is degradable and be a waste and make a compost. Make your gardening. Right now, in these times when you have coronavirus around the world, you can stay at home and also take the seeds and make the plants. You can do it. If you also go plogging, you have to go to yourself alone. Has, as this character in this situation is not allowed to go all people together. You can become the waste when you are plogging or going just off the walk, please do not try to use a single use plastic of course. And if you go to the markets, use your own bags and this is what you can do, also reuse as much as possible. It’s all done as a person. And if it is and you can see someone littering, just go politely to the people and say, please don’t do it here. The pins.
[00:08:47] And you can help them. You dropped your thing. Yeah. So what I’m hearing you say is that a big purpose of this world cleanup day is not only to get the trash out in itself is to cure people of their trash blindness. And for that to happen, they need to open their eyes and see that, oh, it’s not only me picking up trash, people around me are picking up trash. And for that to happen, there needs to be a threshold of two and a half percent. And then there starts to be a more societal level, not only for individuals, but also for governments.
[00:09:27] Yes. And we even are saying that there is really a huge possibility then the people actually are changing after that. And we have seen it so many times. And I think this is the main reason why we’re doing this. Well, clean up today, not to mention this momentum, that it’s bringing stakeholders together to think, OK, what would be the next topic, how we actually keep it clean as well.
[00:09:53] There is no question about the waste itself, but also older, conventional, and also how we manage the waste afterwards. So there are different kinds of aspects of the cleanup.
[00:10:06] Say, yes, I want to switch direction a little bit now because I imagine someone listening to this might be excited and say, hey, I want to come to the table and clean up there as soon as the current crisis is over. Of course. So last time you were there, could you paint me a picture? What was the energy there? What were the people like? What is it like to clean up there?
[00:10:28] Oh, you know. Oh, if you can see my face, it’s full, smiling, smiling, you know, because it’s you just have to imagine that it’s bringing people together to share. You are in connection with the earth. You are in connection with the energy between the people. And you are doing together something really good and it’s visible. You can feel it in your body. You can feel it through the energy. You can feel this kind of activism and also a positive energy, how to work further so we could keep it clean as well. So from that is actually burning so many great other aspects and other great activities in the communities. And I also do believe it’s my personal belief, of course, that when you’re connected with this kind of activity, which is full of positive energy and you also connect with other people, you are connected with the Earth and you’re connected with yourself. And I think during these times when people are more alike in using this kind of other communication lines are not so much in connection with them themselves and other people.
[00:11:51] It’s also bringing people more together to work in collaboration.
[00:11:57] And I think it’s super beautiful, not to mention all these positive aspects. What is doing to the Earth itself.
[00:12:08] I get shivers in my body when you speak like that, because it’s like you say, you need to feel it in your body, that the reason I’m recycling is not because someone told me or because there is a sign at the trash room. It’s because I can experience how they will affect people around me that I now care about. And I think this connectedness, I think it’s so crucial what you guys do. So I’m curious if something really good were tol happen for your organization in the next few years, how would you see where you would like to see this movement go?
[00:12:44] Well, we are joking here that in a few years, maybe a few years is too bold to say, but in five years we don’t need the word clean anymore because simply we don’t have the waste and we change the people’s behaviors. And this is the main aspect and the main reason why we are doing it. But. Between this five year supposed to have happened, many things so it could be happening that we don’t need to work anymore. For example, we need to establish and help each other and different kinds of organizations and local municipalities and also the governments to find solutions and also to work all together in order to prevent and also to manage the waste we have currently in the world. And this is what we want to do. Meanwhile, as well, if we have established this kind of. I don’t know, working for the circle economy or zero waste principles, then eventually we don’t need the work anymore. So this is where we want to go and see other organizations, it’s really interesting because I have been working with this network, I think the five years is now ongoing. And it was like four years from last year. I started to work with an organization by establishing this kind of network. And I know basically each leader in this network and also the background and what’s happening.
[00:14:21] And by seeing these people, I see so much beauty, all the people. And it’s like bringing an energy back and giving you this kind of belief that change is actually possible in the world. And energy is something which is attracting the same kind of positive energy. And in this year in general, as usual we have our annual conference, which we hold also in Tallinn and in Estonia, and it’s brought together by a majority of our leaders. And it was so amazing for this conference to be so full of positivism, full of ideas. And also we brought our partners here, even the partners who are not yet partners to said that they have never been in this kind of conference, which does have so much of engagement and enthusiasm. Well, working five years, the enthusiasm is still there and also positivity. But we want to see as an organization that there is another aspect and another project also happening. So. Imagine that if you are in the work day and you can see the results and you want to see that is the speech what you just cleaned up all these big forests or rivers, what you just the shores of the rivers, what you just cleaned up stays also cleaned up, cleaned. So this is the most important. Mm hmm.
[00:15:57] So we have a lot of things to do and also think of an organization when we have so much of great people in this organization.
[00:16:03] By the way, we have to say that this probably said a United Nations environmental program, but also other movements said that there is no other organization, which is an environmental organization who does have such a big working network. So this working network can do a lot of great things in the world, not just working of day, but as it’s having great environmental organizations inside, but also the people who are leading it, also the teams and also the competence. Then it can be done. They can also do more great things.
[00:16:44] To the world, oh, yes, currently the cleanup day is something we’re about, we’re looking for. Let’s see where we are going in our future, nearest future or longer future as well.
[00:16:55] Yes, I’m equally excited about what you’re saying about the network potential of this, bring Like-Minded people together and I think really good things can always happen. And the word you mentioned before, enthusiasm is my favorite word, and I think it’s so needed when it comes to charity. And I can see how the energy at your events is different from what it might be at other organizations that are very focused on solving a problem with that cause. Because if you can create an experience where people now mentally associate picking up trash and taking care of their waste with a good experience and bringing that together, I think that good association can create lasting change. And that makes me very excited. So we’re not coming up towards the end of this podcast, I imagine someone listening might be so excited they can barely sit still wringing their tail, wanting to take part of the next world, clean up day, or just be more mindful of their trash and cure their blind trust trash blindness in general. What can they do to help?
[00:18:06] Yes, I think the easiest ways to visit the website and look on our website are: you can find your country, you can find the contacts, you can register yourself into the clean up, and you can you can do a multiple thing. But I think the best way is to contact the leader itself. And all their contacts are in w w w word, clean up the dog you can find in
there. But also there are instructions how to be part of them or what you could do for their cleanup day. How can you help? And especially I think that’s a different kind of organization and other movements, young people, every kind of people, communities try to think that you are working and living in the same world and the world is just one one home for us. The waste doesn’t doesn’t have any borders. It’s just flying and floating in the oceans and rivers and air. And it’s a big problem nowadays for everyone. So think that how you can help this national leader or this movement in your country, but you could do to hold the country leader and team to be more stronger and collaborate with them and try to think what might be different kinds of activities with what you can engage the leader and do the good projects and good things for the environment in your home, in your home country, for your nation, and take the contact with us just to contact, go to work, clean up dot org.
[00:20:00] And like you said, Heidi, we’re all in this together. Thank you so much for being a part of our podcast today.
[00:20:08] Thank you for inviting. Thank you for having us.
[00:20:11] It’s our pleasure. And hey, if you’re listening to this and you like this kind of content, then you would like to help us out. Please subscribe to your podcast app there would really help us get into different kinds of top lists, because the top lists are not based on total listeners, because we’re a pretty small podcast yet it’s based on the ratio between listeners and subscribers. So that would really help us out to spread a message of more exciting organizations like the World Team up there. And we see you in the next episode.
END OF TRANSCRIPT