Saturday, September 18, we’ll be organizing World Cleanup Day in The Netherlands again. Traditionally in these weeks, we target producers who do not feel responsible for the enormous amount of litter with their name and logo on it. And, of course, that won’t be any different this year; on the day after, we’ll be publishing all the results, and undoubtedly, there’ll be some swearing in certain head offices.
But this year, we also want to honor all clean-up heroes. The heroes who every day, come rain or shine, go out in their spare time with a gripper to clean up other people’s mess.
DAY IN DAY OUT
Every time I see them, I feel shame. It’s true that I joined the Plastic Soup Foundation out of conviction, try to avoid disposable plastic as much as possible, don’t leave a shred of plastic lying around, and am a fanatical waste separator, but that’s where it ends. Gandhi would not be proud of me.
So long as you do not take the broom and the bucket in your hands, you cannot make your towns and cities clean.’
Someone of whom Gandhi definitely would have been proud is Fred Steenbergen. He is portrayed in our new Socutera commercial, which can be seen on Dutch National Television from August 28. Fred is 52 years old and has been cleaning up litter daily for almost four years. Whether he is walking the dog, going for a run, or cycling, he always takes his grabber and garbage bag with him.
Fred also never forgets to photograph and tag all the waste he collects via the Litterati app. These data we need to tackle the problem at its source. Because Fred and all the other clean-up heroes can keep up cleaning garbage every day, but as long as the problem is not structurally solved, it will remain a case of fighting a running battle.
Fortunately, Fred is not the only one. Our website features interviews these weeks with other people and organizations in the Netherlands that deserve to be celebrated. Paul Waye is our first.
What type are you?
‘Fred‘: working every day to keep his/her environment clean
Nature lover: less fanatical than Fred, but regularly out and about with a gripper
One-day wonder: shows his/her best side once a year on World Cleanup Day
Lines(wo)man: draws the line where it concerns the garbage of others
Sneak: only uses a trash can when other people are watching
Dirtbag: drops all trash on the spot and is not ashamed of it
Maybe we should all try to move up one spot? And at least sign up for World Cleanup Day so that Fred can relax and take a day off? Or just start really small and clean up one piece of litter every day? I haven’t done the math, but according to the City of Amsterdam’s ElkeDagEentje campaign, there would be no more litter in the Netherlands if a quarter of the people did that.
I wish all of you a bright World Cleanup Day!
Elles Tukker, Communications manager, Plastic Soup Foundation
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