Participants of Leaders Academy Collected 50 Bags of Waste as a Spontaneous Action

Paul Emmet, one of the mentors of Let’s Do It! shares how he and the rest of the group spontaneously organized a cleanup in Tirana, Albania, during the Leaders Academy.

Participants of the Leaders Academy in Tirana, Albania.

On the third day of the Let’s Do It! Leaders Academy we had a ‘surprise’ activity. A clean-up within a 300 metre radius of the conference venue.  The trash discarded willy-nilly around the hotel, just outside Triana, Albania, where we had met to eliminate worldwide waste was quite apt, microcosmical/comical even.

We had to confront a problem, a culture, a mindset, and the consequences. Theory transmuted into practice as we gathered around 50 bags of trash and unceremoniously dumped them in the immaculate grounds of the small castle where the Leaders Academy was taking place. The venue owners were aghast, confused, and visibly angry, contrasting with the delight and enthusiasm of our band as we’d collected the trash.

Sorting until the trash transformed into a resource

We began the serious business of the sorting process, PET bottles, aluminum cans, hard and soft plastics, paper, organics, metals, etc. until the trash transformed into a resource. Pål Mårtensson from Zero Waste explained the value and use of each pile. I culminated with the pile which could not be reused or recycled, calling for consumers to petition manufacturers to redesign such products.

Sermon from the temple of Zero Waste over, we gleefully cleaned up the sorted garbage and the venue lawns were immaculate again, and the owners smiling broadly with relief.

Why do we make so much trash?

I’d been up at 5am the day before to convene with the sunrise and cow-herders. Up motored a waste picker, and efficiently he went through the large refuse containers, fishing out the PET and metal. He knew the value of ‘waste’, and while no official waste management system exists in Albania, industriousness and hard work bred of necessity are the baby steps which can be harnessed to create great strides in the future.

Our activity, as all good activities, should lead to questions. Why do we make so much trash? Whose responsibility is it? How do we eliminate it? How do we keep the world clean? The answers are out there, the engagement has begun, and it’s one skirmish after another until the world breathes easy and we can enjoy the beauty and purity of nature, knowing exactly what it is that we almost lost.

Do you want to make a difference together with us? Join the World Cleanup Day 2018 by helping to spread the word. Find some promotion materials here!