Interview with Nara Petrovič from Slovenian team (Apr 14)

With just few more days to go until saturday, the 17th of April, we asked few questions from one of the organizers of the big Slovenian Clean-up day - Nara Petrovič. Read about how the clean-up day is organized, how much garbage are they actually aiming to clean up with how many people and much more from the interview below: 

How many people are you expecting? How many have registered so far?

In Slovenia 200.000 volunteers are expected to participate in the cleanup on April 17, 2010. It will be undoubtedly be the biggest volunteer action so far, involving 10% of population. Many important personalities announced participation, among them the President of Slovenia Danilo Türk and Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment. So far 120.000 people have registered on our website www.ocistimo.si. We expect to clean at least 20.000 tons of waste.

What will happen on the clean-up day - how is the volunteer action organized?

The organizing team of dedicated volunteers, who are working for free since September last year, has prepared a fantastic layout for present and future clean-up activities.

More than 10.400 illegal dumpsites have been registered in an easily accessible registry, that will continue to be publicly available on the internet, and will be regularly updated. It includes all important data about all illegal dumpsite, as well as photos. This is an important asset for the prevention and monitoring of future illegal waste dumping.

In the preparation process the organizing team partnered with all crown government and nongoverment organizations, institutions, companies and media. They gained active support of all 210 municipalities, all waste treatment firms and communal services, as well as majority of environmental associations.

Based on dumpsite registry and on volunteer registration more than 3000 meeting points were determined on well known public places, where people will meet on April 17 at 9 a.m. Computer interactive map program Geopedia, developped by Slovenian company Sinergise, has combined the databases of dumpsites, volunteers, meeting points and waste collection sites. Each meeting point will be supervised by voluteers, who will have printed maps and all necessary information for the volunteers on the clean-up day. Volunteers will be directed to dumpsites and they will take all the waste to collection sites.

Multicolored bags have been ensured for different sorts of waste, so they could be collected separately for recycling right away. Yellow and blue bags are for packaging (plastic bottles, alluminium cans etc.), green for glass, red for dangerous waste (batteries, electronics, detergent bottles, household chemical cans etc.), black for waste that can't be recycled. We expect to collect 60-70% of waste for recycling.

Who are the biggest supporters of the campaign so far?

It is acually unfair to point out anybody, because this project is the property of all people of Slovenia. It will be impossible to give accurate appraisement of all the small and big contributions of individuals and organizastion. But if we had to give special notice to somebody, it would first have to be to to the core coordinating team of approximately 40 volunteers who supported each other in trust and confidence for so many months. Without them the project couldn't get this far.

Then come all Slovenian municipalities, practically all communal services, Slovenian Forest service, Tourist Association, Pristop communication agency, all crown organizations (fishermen, hunters, firemen, scouts, farmers, Olympic Committee ...), media, ambasadors etc.

Honorary patrons are: President of the Republic of Slovenia Danilo Türk, President of the National Assembly Pavel Gantar, and Prime Minister Borut Pahor.

What has been the hardest thing so far, while preparing for the clean-up?

The hardest thing was allowing the strong core group of volunteers who were willing to work tirelessly for months to form. It is amazing to see hundreds of people dedicate so much time and energy to such a sublime goal. People followed because 10-20 of core coordinators showed so much dedication and energy. Wonderful thing about all this is that organizational structure has no boss, no one-and-only-leader who could be hailed for keeping the group together and -- the group built and kept its strong bonds through self-initiated drive, dedication and strong desire to change Slovenia for better -- together!

The second hardest thing was to ensure basic funding for the project in time of global recession. At first we strived towards gathering all the estimated funds (around 700.000 EUR), but in the end we had to boil it down to the lowest possible budget and make through with it. The most fascinating thing is we never resigned to various incidents and conflicts, but always found a reason to fight through it and persist.

How do you feel? :)

I feel fantastic to be a part of the dream team that managed to come so close to fulfilment of an increadible task. And also a bit tired ... :)