Country-wide cleanup in Latvia on this Saturday, April 24 (Apr 21)

The 3rd annual Great Cleanup project is kicking off in Latvia this Saturday, April 24. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in the voluntary campaign. This year the theme is culture. Activists will be asked to clean up and improve places that are of historical and cultural importance.

There are plans to revive the old Latvian tradition of singing and dancing after a big work project has been completed. Recreational zones are going to be established in the yards of apartment buildings and in public locations.
 
The patron of the Great Cleanup, as always, is one of its most fervent supporters – Latvia’s President Valdis Zatlers. He and his family will be in the South-East of Latvia this Saturday, helping to clean up the banks of the Daugava River near the town of Skrīveri.
 
The Great Cleanup project (known as Lielā Talka in Latvian) is co-ordinated by a central team and 120 regional co-ordinators. People have used an interactive map on the Internet to register more than 1,150 places in the country which require some attention – parks, yards, riverbanks, public forests and specific areas along the seaside. Local municipalities, waste management companies, groups of activists, schools, organisations and institutions will all join together to make Latvia a cleaner, greener, and better place to live.
 
Latvia is pleased to have become a source of inspiration for many other countries which have instituted Great Cleanup projects since Latvia’s first one in September 2008. Latvian activists applaud their fellow cleanup enthusiasts in European countries such as Estonia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Italy and Ukraine, as well as further abroad in places such as India, Costa Rica, Australia and Brazil. Activists in Latvia are monitoring the spread of the Great Cleanup idea, and they hope that someday there might be a universal effort on this planet to make it a better, greener, and cleaner place for future generations.
 
Since 2008, the Great Cleanup movement in Latvia has progressed on a geometric scale. Many people see the Great Cleanup as a vital necessity, as a manifestation of the desire for a better life. The project is also an expression of hope – hope for Latvia’s continued, sustainable, and long-term development.
 
The Great Cleanup
 
Latvia’s first Great Cleanup day was September 13, 2008, as the country prepared for the celebration of the 90th anniversary of its independence in November. Some 50,000 volunteers spent the day picking up litter and otherwise cleaning up the environment. They carried some 13,000 tonnes of domestic waste out of the country’s forests and parks.
 
In the spring of 2009, Latvia initiated an even broader cleanup movement in the Baltic Sea region. The project was organised simultaneously in Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and St Petersburg, Russia, with varying degrees of activity in these various locations. In Latvia, some 110,000 volunteers spent the day cleaning up their neighbourhoods all over the country. The activities were organised by more than 800 co-ordinators, and huge numbers of people took part as individual volunteers.
 
This volunteerism is one of the most outstanding features of the Great Cleanup. The huge amount of garbage that has been collected each time, sadly enough shows that even after nearly 20 years of independence, Latvia and its capital city of Rīga still have “scars” from the Soviet era – abandoned factories, industrial waste, and a polluted environment which remains an eyesore in so many different locations. This is due, in large part, to the ongoing carelessness and lack of responsibility of some people for the environment in which they live. The cleaner our country and our neighbouring countries will become, the cleaner we will all want to be. Surely that is something that applies to every country in Europe.
 
Kristina Pelsa
President’s Adviser on public project management issues
 
Address: Pils laukums 3, Riga, LV-1900 Latvia
Phone: +371 67092114
Mobile: +371 28308377
Fax: +371 67092157
E-mail: kristina.pelsa@president.lv