by Kirsike KukkChoose a language:
26. November 2014, 21:58
On the 21st of November a massive cleanup event took place in Albania, bringing together 112,000 volunteers who cleaned up ca 8,000 tonnes of illegal waste, making it the biggest civic action in the country.
According to Ervin Shehaj, the coordinator of Let’s Do It! Albania (Ta Pastrojmë Shqipërinë), the situation has improved a great deal in Albania, since the first cleanup: “There is less waste, but the most important aspect is the development of awareness and changes in legislation. Finally, environmental topics are a daily issue in Albania – that was not the case before,” he says.
“When we started to prepare for this massive action, Albania had the lowest volunteering rate in Europe. Contacting people and institutions for the first time, they thought we were crazy. We said we expected 100,000 people to come out and people were laughing about it. There was also a special mentality in Albania back then – people didn’t want to be seen cleaning up in public. It was not considered cool at all. They also didn’t consider volunteering as something trendy or normal to do,” explained Shehaj.
Shehaj recalls debates, which argued, that as citizens are already paying taxes, they shouldn’t clean up after others. Creating a major rapid shift in behaviour was a joint effort of young civic enthusiasts, who became motivated when they found a video about a massive cleanup day in Estonia, which involved 4% of the population (50,000 people) in 2008.
Albania has been organising huge grass roots cleanup events since 2012. First cleanup action brought together 122,000 volunteers to clean up their country. In 2013, the action becae truly a grassroot initiative, uniting 147,000 people and being run by civic activists. This year’s Albanian Let’s Do It! action and campaign called “Green Tour 3” aimed to view the waste problem from a broader perspective.
“The focus of the campaign campaign was to raise awareness on illegal waste and address the environmental issues by uniting relevant stakeholders for brainstorming and decision-making. Moreover, the campaign was the first step to kick-start the process of Albania’s journey to become a zero waste country,” claims Shehaj.
According to initial statistics, 24,2% of the waste collected on the 21st of November consisted of plastic and 21,1% of hosuehold waste. The volunteers also gathered a lot of construction waste (14,5%) and glass (13,6%). 10,7% of the waste mapped and collected was metals, but also electronic and dangerous waste was found together with liquid wastes, car parts, etc. In total ca 8,000 tonnes of waste was collected in just one day.
The international network of Let’s Do It! clean up campaigns 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. 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. Today, Let’s Do It! is a global network of 112 countries, having engaged over 11 million participants.
The Albanian cleanup action was supported by the Ministry of Environment of Albania, the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth of Albania, the Ministry of Education and Sports of Albania, the Albanian National Agency of Tourism, the National Agency of Environment of Albania. The cooperation also involves local municipalities, regional and local public institutions and various Albanian non-profit organisations.
The Let’s Do It! World movement is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid fund, the Open Estonia Foundation, Skype, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, QlikView, Tallink Group, DHL Estonia, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Estonian Air, Interlex Translations, Meedius Estonia and EuroPark Estonia.
More information on the global movement:
Let’s Do It! World Cleanup 2014
Head of Public Relations & Communication
Phone: +372 504 1258
E-mail: [email protected]
Team leader of Let’s Do It! Albania (Ta Pastrojmë Shqipërinë)
Phone: +355 69 20 31900
E-mail: [email protected]