World Cleanup Day 2019 Sweeps Across the Planet
Around 20 million people in 179 countries and territories joined cleanups at beaches, streets, forests and parks in a global effort to clean up waste from public spaces and nature. Many countries are yet to send in their number of volunteers and amount of waste collected.
World Cleanup Day 2019 started in the Pacific island of Fiji and ended 24 hours later in Hawaii. Cleanups were organised in countries and territories on all continents, including the Arctic, where a group of cruise operators along with passengers put aside their binoculars, rolled up their sleeves and collected litter from the Arctic beaches to combat marine plastic pollution.
The usual suspect, plastic, was the main type of waste found on beaches across the world from Tonga to Bangladesh to Martinique. In Hawaii, the American singer-songwriter Jack Johnson led a cleanup that highlighted the amount of microplastic on the Hawaiian beaches. In Sri Lanka, 250 kg plastic and 15 kg of flip-flops were collected on just one beach. Several toilets, fridges and other household appliances were pulled from water in Cyprus, Curaçao and Maldives, where underwater cleanups took place.
Plastic waste made up most of the waste collected in Europe, too, but this year millions of cigarette butts found their way into trash bags and several countries chose to highlight the prevalence of cigarette butts on our streets and nature. In Estonia, 900,000 cigarette butts were collected, mostly by students and kindergarten (!) children. In France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands cigarette butts featured heavily as well. Along with picking them up, the local teams educated the public through media on the harms of cigarette butts, that are often believed to be biodegradable.
Plogging - picking up trash while jogging - was another popular theme this year. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden joined a plogging group in Sweden and running groups across the UK, Czech Republic and Netherlands amongst others chose this sporty way of picking up trash to participate in World Cleanup Day.
Despite a difficult security situation on the lead up to presidential elections in Afghanistan, a group of climate enthusiasts still organised a cleanup in Kabul. But they went further than just that - they built a tower of all plastic collected and paraded it through the city to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the country. Apart from political conflict and security, many countries had to reckon with the forces of nature. The biggest earthquake in 30 years hit Albania while 100,000 people were out in the streets and nature cleaning. Fires sparked by illegal land clearing in Indonesia spread haze across the country, but also Malaysia and Singapore, which meant many of the planned cleanups in the countries had to be cancelled or moved to different locations. Despite this, more than 9 million people came out to clean across Indonesia at least.
Cleanups also sweeped across the African continent and massive post-cleanup street parties complete with music and dancing echoed from DRC to Mozambique to Cameroon and Nigeria. While Africa and Europe were celebrating their successes, the Americas were about to start. Estimated 2 million people turned out to clean in all 50 US states and 5 overseas territories, led by the National Cleanup. Amongst other natural landmarks, the Hudson river in New York was cleared of some of the waste it holds. The Caribbean and Latin America saw people turn up to clean beaches, streets, forests and mountains. In Brazil, cleanups took place in 1200 cities across the vast country while Argentina and Panama attracted sizeable crowds following successful national PR campaigns.
The massive one-day clean-up action, organised by the global NGO Let's Do It World, is one of the largest worldwide civic movements. The aim of this global concerted effort is to raise awareness of mismanaged waste damaging our planet and to give every individual, company and organisation a chance to get involved in creating a better, healthier and safer environment.
The numbers of volunteers and amount of waste collected in each country are still being counted and will take another month to finalise, but for now, the number of countries that participated stands at 179 and the number of volunteers around 20 million people. "Each and every cleanup leader and volunteer is a changemaker. It is humbling to see so many people come together for a goal that they all believe in and want to work towards: a cleaner planet," Heidi Solba, the President of Let's Do It World expressed her gratitude.
World Cleanup Day is attracting an increasing number of individuals, who seek opportunities to positively contribute to a cleaner planet, but hundreds of companies and organisations, too. UNEP, UN Habitat, Earth Day Network, Fridays For Future, Allianz, Toyota, Volvo and Fujitsu joined cleanup actions across the globe amongst others.
As the cleanups happened, a live show with the latest results and news from various locations was broadcast live from Pristina, Kosovo, who hosted the global call-and media centre this year. As a membership-based NGO, Let's Do It World aims to give this responsibility to a different member each year.
The next World Cleanup Day will take place on the 19th of September 2020.
World Cleanup Day is the largest single peacetime civic action against waste in human history, aimed at raising awareness of the scale of the global mismanaged waste crisis threatening the environment and the lives of millions of people and living beings. 179 countries and around 20 million people participated in World Cleanup Day in 2019, with more people expected to join next year. For more information visit: www.worldcleanupday.org
Let's Do It World (LDIW), the organisation behind World Cleanup Day, is an international NGO that tackles environmental challenges related to the global mismanaged solid waste problem, by mobilising millions of positive-minded people to participate in coordinated local and global actions. LDIW is aiming for positive change, smarter choices in design, production, consumption and resource management. LDIW has member organizations and representatives in over 150 countries.
A selection of photos from cleanups across the globe is available in this album, which is being constantly updated.