World Cleanup Day
|World Cleanup Day|
|Date(s)||19 September 2020|
|Participants||21000000 (in 2019)|
World Cleanup Day (aka WCD) is an annual global social action program aimed at combating the global solid waste problem and the problem of [wikipedia:marine debris|marine debris]. It includes litter cleanup and waste mapping activities spanning every time zone. It is held on the 3rd Saturday of September annually in nearly every country in the World. The last World Cleanup Day was 19 September 2020.
World Cleanup Day is a campaign started by Let's Do It! World global civic movement. It has developped around the idea of mobilising large numbers of people for one-day nation-wide cleanups to remove illegally dumped waste. The model was pioneered in Estonia on 4 May 2008 with their nation-wide cleanup called Let's do it! (in Estonian: "Teeme Ära!") engaging 50000 people or 4% of their population, cleaning up 10000 tons of waste in one day. Over a decade, the movement has spread to practically all countries of the world and mobilised millions of people to participate in cleanups. From the beginning in 2007, until 2020 the movement has spread from Estonia to over 180 countries and engaged more than 21 million volunteers.
Purpose of World Cleanup Day
Global problems related to waste are immense and tackling them goes beyond governments and institutions. Massive global citizens' engagement is what World Cleanup Day aims for and the slogan Let's do it! summarises the urgency, self-initiative and cooperation necessary to address the problem. As organisers say on their official website: "Let’s Do It World has never been purely about cleaning up trash. Our vision is a clean and healthy waste free planet. We tackle the environmental challenges related to the mismanaged solid waste crisis by mobilizing millions of positive-minded people into coordinated local and global actions." And also: "World Cleanup Day harnesses the power of people around the world to achieve incredible things by joining together. Its beauty lies in cooperation and collaboration: building bridges between disparate communities, and including all levels of society – from citizens to business, to government."
World Cleanup Day aims to raise awareness of the mismanaged waste crisis by mobilizing all spheres of society to participate in cleanup actions. Individuals, governments, corporations and organisations are all encouraged to take part in cleanups and to find solutions to tackle mismanaged waste. There are numerous organizations that facilitate and host World Cleanup Day events globally. Like Earth Day, World Cleanup Day is non-partisan, apolitical, and is not affiliated with any national or global political party or discrete ideology.
History of Let's do it! World
The movement started at an informal meeting of friends eager to do something to solve the problem of illegal waste dumping in Estonian forests and littering in towns. As they were pondering how to organise a nation wide cleanup, one of them, Rainer Nölvak, said: "Yes, we'll clean Estonia, but we'll do it in one day!" This triggered a series of meetings and leading to the formation of a team that held the campaign and finally, on 4 May 2008 the cleanup took place. The story spread to other countries and the movement rapidly gained momentum, reaching 90 countries by 2012 and 180 countries by 2018. The core team in Estonia with varying degrees of cooperation of colleagues from other countries had navigated the development of the movement over the years, supporting national teams with annual conferences, courses, academies, promo materials, graphic design, know-how, training etc. Since 2013, the connection with Zero Waste movement grew and in the later years with some other movements too, such as Earth Day, Greenpeace, The Ocean Cleanup etc.
Scope of World Cleanup Day
World Cleanup Day is a global campaign, active in over 180 countries. In many of those countries, the campaign is organised in partnership and involvement of tens and in some cases even hundreds of organisations (both government and non-government), institutes, schools, universities, kindergartens etc.
The Let's Do It Foundation has been the driver of the global movement from 2011 to 2019. The crucial element for the growth of the movement were annual conferences organised by the Let's Do It Foundation bringing together each time up to 250 people from as many as 90 countries.
For the most time the movement has been spreading by a combination of the targeted efforts of the staff and volunteers from Let's Do It Foundation in Estonia and mostly scattered efforts by individuals and organisations around the world. Since 2017 these efforts are better concerted.
Let's do it! World is a highly inclusive movement and it is easy to qualify for membership. While national coordinators are encouraged to organise large cleanups emulating the model of the most successful countries, small local cleanups are just as welocme under the banner of Let's do! World.
From 2018 on, a more global structure has developed with membership and a democratic process held by the global network itself, establishing its own decision making structures. The team in Estonia has split into two parts, one supporting the global network of cleanups as Let's Do It World NGO under the identity of World Cleanup Day, and the Let's Do It Foundation started focusing on the newly formed Keep It Clean Plan, based on the principles of the circular economy, and embedding Zero Waste practices.
The identity of Let's do it! World and World Cleanup Day
In some countries, the campaigns used the original graphic identity of Let's do it! World as well as the name, either in English or translated to their own languages, while others have chosen different names and graphic identities and the extent of affiliation with the Estonian Let's do it! Foundation.
Since 2018 a new graphic design was adopted and the global campaign adopted a new name: World Cleanup Day.
Until 2018 the movement didn't have an official global franchise or membership, so national organisers were free to decide how to liaise with the initiators from Estonia. This has resulted in a diversity of adaptations of the graphic identity and execution of national campaigns around the same core concept of mobilising as many people as possible to pick waste on one day.
In most countries the campaigns were grassroots initiatives, coordinated bottom-up by teams of volunteers. Young urban people concerned about the environment are frequently at the core of the campaign. Participants are typically volunteers, with coordination from non-governmental organisations who assist in awareness-raising, logistics, and fundraising.
In some countries, the initiatives have later grown into stable organisations with substantial budgets and employees, repeating the nation-wide cleanup annually and developing various other projects, while in other countries the initiatives fluctuated, sometimes organising the cleanup only once, often on a much smaller scale -- regionally or locally. Collaboration with other organisations and businesses varied greatly from country to country.
Initiatives in numbers
Participation in World Cleanup Day over the last years was the following:
- in 2018, 17.6 million people from 157 countries Over 88500 tons of waste was collected.
- in 2019, 21.2 million people from 180 countries Over 100000 tons of waste was collected.
- in 2020, a still unknown number of people from 158 countries
- in 2021, the campaign will take place on 18 September 2021
Before 2018, the total number of participants globally was not summarised. The first attempt to organise a global cleanup took place in 2012 and engaged 96 countries, but the total number of participants has not been accuratelly assessed.
World Cleanup Day by countries
The majority of European countries have engaged in World Cleanup Day:
Around the world, teams in 180 countries have also been involved.
Some key milestones
- 2007: the first meeting of initiators of the Estonian cleanup where the idea was born
- 4 May 2008: the first cleanup in Estonia under the name of Let's do it!
- 17 February 2009: a 5-minute video about the Estonian cleanup was published on Youtube
- Spring 2009: The first countries to emulate the Estonian model were two neighbouring countries, Latvia and Lithuania, with 250,000 participants
- January 2010: the first World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, connecting the first teams from 15 countries
- 17 April 2010: the Slovenian cleanup, engaging 13.5% of the population, has set a high bar in the possible participation
- April 2011: Let's clean the Balkan conference in Slovenia brought together people from almost all the countries of the SE of Europe, later leading to most of these countries organising very successful nation-wide cleanups
- January 2012: the 2nd World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, bringing together 90 participants from more than 30 countries
- March to September 2012: The first Let's do it! World Cleanup campaign had motivated cleanups in 96 countries.
- November 2012: at a conference in Nepal there were participants from about 10 countries of the SE Asia; at the same time another conference was held in Kiev, Ukraine
- January 2013: the 3rd World Cleanup conference took place in Tallinn.
- February 2014: the 4th World Cleanup conference took place in Prishtina, Kosovo.
was the first international conference of such sort in a young European country.
- February 2015: the 5th World Cleanup conference was held in Riga, Latvia.
- January 2016: the 6th World Cleanup conference was held in Bursa, Turkey.
- January 2017: the 7th World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia.
- January 2018: the 8th World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia.
- 22 September 2018: World Cleanup Day took place with 16 million participants in more than 150 countries and regions.
- January 2019: the 9th World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia.
- 15 September 2019: 20 million participants in 180 countries.
- January 2020: the 10th World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia.
- 19 September 2020: despite COVID-19 situation, millions of participants joined cleanups in most countries of the world.
Links to key examples
Some of the most successful examples were:
- Slovenian cleanup in 2010 engaging 270,000 participants, 13.5% of the population of the country
- Ukrainian cleanup in 2014 engaging 1.5 million participants
- Indonesian cleanup in 2018 engaging 7 million participants
Numbers of people involved, and indirect beneficiaries
Impacts of World Cleanup Day
Impacts in other dimensions
Research on World Cleanup Day
- 2017: European Citizens' Prize
- 2018: The UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development
- Let's do it! World Official Website
- Official Youtube Channel
- Video about Let's Do It! Estonia
- Video about the global action - Let's Do It! World
- "Teeme ära 2008". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- World Cleanup Day official website
- "'Communities will be united': Groups around Ireland to take part in World Cleanup Day". The Journal. 09/09/2018.
- "Let's Do It World website". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- "Our Story". Worldcleanupday.org. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "World Cleanup Day 2018 Waste Report" (PDF). Worldcleanupday.org. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "Annual Report 2019 (page 44)" (PDF). Worldcleanupday.org. January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
- "Video about the first Let's Do It! cleanup in Estonia". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- "Let's clean the Balkans in one day conference". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- Let's clean Slovenia in one day! 2010 Final Report
- Let's do it! Ukraine official website