Fight against litter picks up online, writes Dubai weekly 7DAYS (Feb 03)

Fed up with seeing the environment strewn with garbage, activists from around the globe aim to muster a million volunteers this year for a mass clean-up piloted via the internet, organisers said.

The ‘Let’s Do It’ operation is the brainchild of campaigners in Estonia, a small Baltic state which is a hub for nature-lovers and one of the world’s most internet-wired nations.

After a successful operation at home in 2008, when volunteers removed thousands of illegal rubbish dumps, the Estonians have shared their lessons with foreign campaigners at a conference that ended yesterday.

“Since the campaign day in Estonia in May 2008 we have been contacted by people from dozens of states, from Japan to Brazil, setting up voluntary teams to organise similar campaigns in their homelands,” said Toomas Trapido, a lawmaker and a mastermind of the movement.

Rainer Nolvak, an IT entrepreneur, board member of the Estonian Nature Fund, and fellow-mastermind said that activists from Portugal to India plan events aiming to draw a total of a million people.

Like the Estonians, campaigners elsewhere will use special software and mobile phones to map and photograph illegal dumps. Having located the sites, they will call for clean-up volunteers.

Estonia’s landmark one-day operation in 2008 mustered 50,000 people in the nation of 1.3 million. They collected 10,000 tonnes of rubbish.

“We had no idea that so many people would turn out and that the campaign would spread around the globe,” Trapido said.
The Estonians set up a web site, www.letsdoitworld.org, with tips for others.

A voluntary clean-up took place on Saturday in part of the Indian capital Delhi, a pilot for a larger operation planned across the city in September.

In Europe, a clean-up is due in Portugal in March.

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