Clean Games from Russia With Love

Russia, the land of Pushkin, Chekhov, Tolstoy and Sputnik, the largest country in the world and perhaps the most complex has again contributed a world changing idea. The Clean Games is a cleanup project which is easy, addictive and an extremely fun way to encourage people to get out into nature and make it beautiful again. Something you can do with friends at weekend, or work colleagues as an event. We are extremely happy to have Clean games on board for World Cleanup Day Sept 15th 2018, you can read about how the project started and check out the video link for how it works. So read on and let the cleaning fun commence.

My Way to The World Cleanup – A story by Ekaterina Semenikhina

Adventures in a Wild Nature or Happy Childhood

My story started 20 years ago. I was a little girl and every summer my parents took me and my little brother to a great journey at wild nature. For a week or two we travelled in a small boat like canoe in a beautiful lake Vouksa with many picturesque islands. We had a company of family friends also with kids and it was a great fun. Living in a tent, cooking meals on fire, eating wild berries and singing songs with a guitar. Every year we were waiting impatiently for the moment when we packed our bags and went there.

We had always been treating nature with care. Never left rubbish, organic matter was buried, something was burned, the rest were taken away. It was needless to say.

Open Your Eyes or How I Met Trash

Six years ago I gathered my friends and we went to Vuoksa for a small boat trip. It was a great pleasure to see all my lovely places from childhood. But what really upset me — the amounts of trash on every tiny island. I had no idea what to do with it. Probably during last 14 years not all the people were as much careful as my family. We picked up some, but it was like a drop in the ocean. And we burned what we picked up, because it was difficult to take it away in a small boat.

 How Creative a Idea Inspired me and United People

Two years later one of my friends Dmitry Ioffe also travelled to this lake. He was experienced in conducting various sports and role-playing games. And when he saw all this garbage, he thought, why don’t we arrange a competition for garbage collection. As the pirates go for the gold, people would occupy islands and hunt for trash. This should be an exciting team competition, everyone will want to gather as much garbage as they can and the winners receive prizes. Well, he not only thought, but did it. After a month of preparation was the first game. It was not easy to arrange garbage removal from islands as special motorboats and trucks were needed. Also boats, trash bags, gloves, prizes for players. Fortunately, friends found partners who helped them with boats and garbage removal, but the rest of the expenses they had to chip in between participants. We could hardly imagine that people would be so much excited about collecting garbage. During the day, 8 tons of trash were removed from islands by 100 people. We were not the first people to arrange a volunteer cleanup at the lake. But it was obvious that the game is much more efficient to involve and motivate people to pick up trash.

In few months guys decided to conduct the same game in another place. They chose Peterhof parks near their home. This time they got support from local municipality. All the expenses were covered and people participated event with enthusiasm. In a year friends conducted several more games. The team of 10-15 people worked for each game. 100-200 players participated the event. I worked as coordinator of volunteers there.

We were so inspired by the success of first games that continued to work even with limited resources. We developed mobile platform to count trash bags during the game and to see online game score. Also through the game rules we introduced the idea of waste sorting. Separately collected glass, plastic or whatever you want to select will bring more points. And people who never had the idea about recycling pick up trash and realize that it can become something valuable, a resource. So the main goal of the games is not just to remove all trash at once (because in few weeks it will come back). The point is to change people`s mind, to show through the game the problem and solution. Also mass actions attract media and we try to invite officials and celebrities, to involve local business (as sponsors of prizes) and thus all unite around the issue.

Local Project Grew up into a National Network and my Hobby Became my Job

From 2015 people in other cities invited us to conduct Clean Games in their places. In 2016 we have already received so many applications from all over Russia that could not handle them ourselves, then we knew it was time to collect our experience in the manual. We have written detailed guidelines and formed a consulting team to provide remote support for all organizers. We help them to prepare and conduct games step by step from sample letters to local administration and sponsors to game riles and day scenario. Now we are moving our game mobile site into an app to make it easier to use.

Players make selfie with collected garbage to upload it to the game website and get for it extra points

So far 122 games were conducted in 53 cities of Russia. 260 tons of garbage were removed and 12,000 people received a new environmental knowledge. Hundreds of publications in the media attract more attention to the problem. The government has to include such things in the agenda of important issues. That`s what we work for.

Who could imagine that collecting trash might be so exciting?

We Participate with Let’s Do It Russia and Look for Partners Around the World

In 2017 Russian Let`s Do It team invited us to the World Cleanup Day Conference in Tallinn to share our method with the World. We are proud that can be part of the largest environmental campaign ever. Personally, I’d be happy if someone will take our approach on board. Maybe we can make global gaming league in garbage collection. Come on! Let’s make a cleanup fun! I have translated all our resources into English, so don’t hesitate to contact me.

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