Clean Games – A New Approach To Cleanups

Countries trying to tackle environmental pollution have to consider economical and legal issues, but for a lasting change, it is also paramount to work on education. Environmental activists are increasingly looking towards non-standard methods to bring people to ecological thinking. In Russia, they came up with an idea that turns cleaning trash in nature into […]

Countries trying to tackle environmental pollution have to consider economical and legal issues, but for a lasting change, it is also paramount to work on education. Environmental activists are increasingly looking towards non-standard methods to bring people to ecological thinking. In Russia, they came up with an idea that turns cleaning trash in nature into a game; combining outdoor activity with mobile technologies.

India in Clean Games Pilot

Now, the model of Clean Games has started to spread. On Saturday, March 31st, the first foreign Clean Games were held in Kota, India with schoolchildren. The players collected nine bags of trash in one hour and were really inspired by the whole experience. This ecological quest for Indian students was organized by Olga Gartalova, who went to India a month before the Clean Games to work at a local school under a cultural exchange programme. “Very often we talk about love, happiness, freedom and responsibility. The preservation of the environment is an example of how the area of human responsibility is expanding. Love and care for yourself is not limited to the purity of the body and the home, it goes far beyond these limits. We are talking about how we can show our responsibility for our home, about the country and about the planet as a whole,” Gartalova explained.

The methodology of Clean Games is distributed free of charge on the principle of social franchise. There are simple requirements for organizers – to adopt a responsible attitude at the event and not to use political symbolism. The methodology is currently available in English and will be available in more languages in the future.

“I think we’d love Clean Games. I want a kind of initiative that will make people participate in cleanup exercises while enjoying it,” says Gafar Olorunleke Odubote, PR-manager of Let’s Do It! Nigeria, who is going to run Clean Games in his country.

History Of The Games

A small group of local activists conducted first Clean Games in Russia in 2014 at Lake Vuoksa near St. Petersburg, where a number of small islands were covered in litter. During the first Games, 100 people removed eight tons of trash from the islands. “We were not the first people to arrange a volunteer cleanup at the lake,” Dmitry Ioffe, the organiser, noted, “but it was obvious that the Games are a much more efficient method to involve and motivate people to pick up trash.”

Over the next two years organizers held about 20 more Clean Games in St. Petersburg, Moscow and other cities in Russia. Fun competitions in trsah collection with eco-puzzles, geo-marks and online maps became popular in Russia. Clean Games also developed a special mobile app to count trash bags during the Games and to see the teams’ scores online. They also introduced waste sorting through the rules of the Games, where items separated into glass, plastic or other materials will bring more points. People, who never recycled before, started to realize that it can become something valuable, a resource.

The aim of the Games is not only to clean up trash, but also to change mindsets and behaviour. Local businesses and organisations have also joined forces with the organisation, and extensive media coverage has meant the idea of the games spread quickly thoroughout the country.

So far 122 games have been conducted in 53 cities of Russia. 260 tons of garbage have been removed and 12,000 people gained environmental knowledge. 50 games are already planned for Spring 2018 in Russia.

“I think that our experience can be useful to foreign colleagues as well,” said Dmitry Ioffe, the project leader. In the near future Clean Games will be held in Ukraine, Serbia, Nigeria, Uganda and China. The authors of the project explain that Clean Games is not just about cleaning, but a new approach to education that allows people to learn about the problem of environmental pollution, and to contribute to its solution.

Additional information and resources: cleangames.ru/