Rainer Nõlvak: We Will Turn This Global Cleanup Into the Largest Celebration of Humanity

You know how much illegal waste there is in your countries. Taken together, there are billions of tons of waste on this planet, lying around in nature. The rubbish is dripping into the oceans and into our drinking water. Illegal dumpsites are breeding sites for disease, and frequently they turn into social black holes – crime attracts crime.

Attention! New date for the World Cleanup Day 2018 is 15th of September (ed: 22.02.2017)!

However, this is not my topic today. It’s not the environment I’ll be speaking of today. Because Let’s Do It! is not environmental movement. We are about changing the behaviour of people.

See, you may think you’re here because Let’s Do It! is a noble cause. You may think you are here because your country is increasingly filling up with litter. True, that’s one fine cause to act upon. But it’s not the real reason you’re here. You’re here because I cleaned my country back in 2008. I did this because I didn’t know that entire countries cannot be cleaned in just one day.

You’re here because we succeeded, back then, me and my team. I dreamt it up. I pulled the team together. And the team pulled me through my hard moments. And we did it! We cleaned the entire country, in five hours. What a great feeling it was! So yes, we’re here because we want you to feel that kind of success.

You see, there is something about success. Magic. It attracts people. You wouldn’t be here, if we had failed that very first time. Likewise, we’ll do our very best to help you to succeed as well.

Dear friends, here, in this room, we have gathered from 70 countries. We’re here because all of our countries are losing the fight against illegal rubbish.

It’s well known that pristine nature has a restorative effect on humans. Somewhat recently it has been shown that adding waste to a beautiful environment produces a highly negative effect on people. That green place suddenly doesn’t soothe you anymore. It looks unhappy and less calm. Trash makes people sad. Trash makes people angry.

The problem here is that people are adapting. We are good at that. As we speak, billions of us are adapting to life in trash. Once they adapt, they forget about the clean nature. They don’t dare to dream of clean. Many of us have already forgotten, perhaps. To change all that, we don’t have too much time.

To stop this onrush of waste from contaminating our nature and culture, we need to respond on a similar scale. On an equally enormous scale. Together, in each of our countries. And we need to be successful at that.

To clean up the planet, all of us need to succeed. We all need to build up our teams of great people. Figure out how do we make everyone in the country aware of the cleanup day. How do we engage with government and businesses. Forge partnerships. Then, we’ll map the waste. And we’ll clean it all up!

This is what our success will look like: all of that rubbish, gone. All clean. Simple, huh?

Dear friends, World Cleanup will happen in 2018. All around this planet. This will happen in your country, too. Make sure you’re up to it. Make no mistake – we are not asking you to organise a nice cleanup event somewhere on a pretty beach. You see, good people are already doing that everywhere. Ocean Conservancy and Cleanuptheworld and Legambiente and many, many others have been promoting local cleanups for a long time with success.

However, the amount of waste our civilisation is churning out keeps increasing. Despite the efforts of good people, things are getting worse.

There’s no other way to solve the problem than to do it together. To cooperate, on an entirely different scale. For a single mega-event, we will come together. We will get all this rubbish cleaned up and ask everyone not to waste our planet again. We will give everyone the opportunity to participate. We’ll turn this global cleanup into the largest celebration of humanity.

We need to be successful. For our success will empower everyone to dream clean dreams of their own. And this is how the planet will stay clean. We, humans, we always treasure and protect what we had nearly lost.

That’s a tall order, to clean the entire planet. I know. Look into yourself. Think about the challenges ahead. Don’t ask yourself whether you are up to it. For I was not, back then, but we did it. None of us, taken separately, is ready to create an event like this. It takes a great team to organise it.

The important question I’d like you to ask yourself is this: Is a clean planet important enough for you? Do you have the determination to keep going through hard times and setbacks? Are you ready to suffer? For there is no success without suffering. It’s as certain as death and taxes – suffer you will.

This is what heroes do. This is why people will follow you, to help you. Because you have the courage to suffer for a common cause. There are not many who have the guts to do that. You are here, that makes you one. Keep in mind, the people want you to succeed in your quest. For this will be them succeeding as well. For that, they’ll carry you through, if need be. Just put your heart into it, put together the best team you can find – and do it.

Godspeed! Let’s Do It!