112,000 People Cleaned Up ca 8,000 Tonnes of Illegal Waste in Albania in One Day

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On the 21st of November a massive cleanup event took place in Albania, bringing together 112,000 volunteers who cleaned up ca 8,000 tonnes of illegal waste, making it the biggest civic action in the country.

According toErvin Shehaj, the coordinator of Lets Do It! Albania (Ta Pastrojm Shqiprin), the situation has improved a great deal in Albania, since the first cleanup: There is less waste, but the most important aspect is the development of awareness and changes in legislation. Finally, environmental topics are a daily issue in Albania that was not the case before, he says.

When we started to prepare for this massive action, Albania had the lowest volunteering rate in Europe. Contacting people and institutions for the first time, they thought wewere crazy. We said we expected 100,000 people to come out and people were laughing about it. There was also a special mentality in Albania back then people didnt want to be seen cleaning up in public. It was not considered cool at all. They also didnt consider volunteering as something trendy or normal to do, explained Shehaj.

Shehaj recalls debates, which argued, that as citizens are already paying taxes, they shouldnt clean up after others. Creating a major rapid shift in behaviour was a joint effort of young civic enthusiasts, who became motivated when they founda video about a massive cleanup day in Estonia, which involved 4% of the population (50,000 people) in 2008.

Albania has been organising huge grass roots cleanup events since 2012. First cleanup action brought together 122,000 volunteers to clean up their country. In 2013, the action becae truly a grassroot initiative, uniting 147,000 people and being run by civic activists. This years Albanian Lets Do It! action and campaign called Green Tour 3aimed to view the waste problem from a broader perspective.

The focus of the campaign campaign was to raise awareness on illegal waste and address the environmental issues by uniting relevant stakeholders for brainstorming and decision-making. Moreover, the campaign was the first step to kick-start the process of Albanias journey to become azero wastecountry, claims Shehaj.

According to initial statistics, 24,2% of the waste collected on the 21st of November consisted of plastic and 21,1% of hosuehold waste. The volunteers also gathered a lot of construction waste (14,5%) and glass (13,6%). 10,7% of the waste mapped and collected was metals, but also electronic and dangerous waste was found together with liquid wastes, car parts, etc. In total ca 8,000tonnes of waste was collected in just one day.

The international network of Lets Do It! clean up campaigns aims to solve the illegal dumping problem on a local and global level both short and long term by engaging a large part of the society in the cleanup activity on an action day, raising the issues related to illegal dumping and engaging both experts, political and local leaders to find more sustainable systemic solutions. The movement began in Estonia in 2008 when 50,000 people came together and cleaned up their entire country in five hours, removing 10,000 tonnes of waste. Today, Lets Do It! is a global network of 112 countries, having engaged over 11 million participants.

The countries participating in Lets Do It! actionscan be seen here:www.letsdoitworld.org/countriesandupcoming cleanup dates can be seen here:www.letsdoitworld.org/cleanup_dates_2014.

The Albanian cleanup action was supported bythe Ministry of Environment of Albania, the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth of Albania, the Ministry of Education and Sports of Albania, the Albanian National Agency of Tourism, the National Agency of Environment of Albania. The cooperation also involves local municipalities, regional and local public institutions and various Albanian non-profit organisations.

The Lets Do It! World movement is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid fund, the Open Estonia Foundation, Skype, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, QlikView, Tallink Group, DHL Estonia, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Estonian Air, Interlex Translations, Meedius Estonia and EuroPark Estonia.

Take a look at the photo gallery of the event here!

More information on the global movement:

Meelika Hirmo
Lets Do It! World Cleanup 2014
Head of Public Relations & Communication
Phone: +372 504 1258

Ervin Shehaj
Team leader of Lets Do It! Albania (Ta PastrojmShqiprin)
Phone: +355 69 20 31900