The Estonian way to clean up the planet

Source: Arne Adar, Visit Estonia

The Estonian way to clean up the planet

While many of us have been glued to our phones, doomscrolling and bemoaning the state of the environment, Estonians have united and begun the initiative known as World Cleanup Day. This is the story of how a country of 1.3 million convinced more than 18 million people to come together and clean up the planet. 

Why Estonia?

Estonia has some of the world's cleanest air.

Photo by: Annika Haas

Estonians are taught early on that a home is not just four walls. It also includes the streets, valleys, hills, and rivers that surround us. Their natural environs should be treated with the same amount of respect as someone's own home. As a result, Estonian food and air are among the cleanest in the world. Estonians connect with nature and strive to protect it and the important wildlife around them. So, it's no surprise that Estonians have embarked on a mission to nurture a similar mentality across the world.

Estonians know how to unite for good

Photo by: Jarek Jõepera

Estonians know how to gather a crowd. It's simply part of the Estonian mindset to do so when they see a problem. This is easy to see in the Song and Dance celebration, held since the 19th century and regarded as one of the most powerful movements in modern Estonian history. Estonians also took part in the Baltic Way, when over two million people from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania joined hands to protest Soviet occupation. These mass movements drew international attention, just as the World Cleanup Day is doing now. But now they are tackling a truly international issue: the global waste problem.

How it all started

This innovative idea began in 2008. Around 50,000 people united to clean up Estonia in just five hours. On that day, a global grassroots movement was born, and people rallied around the idea of "one country, one day."

The first World Cleanup Day was held on 15 September 2018, starting at 10 am in New Zealand and ending 36 hours later in Hawaii. During these daylight hours, millions of tons of illegal trash were removed from nature all over the world. At the end of the day, more than 18 million people from 157 different countries had come together to clean up the environment.

World Cleanup Day was the flagship initiative of Let's Do It! Foundation that has made its mission to map and tackle world waste problem. The movement has engaged more than 18 million people in nationwide cleanup campaigns and zero waste initiatives. This Estonian local community initiative is now the biggest civic action in the world and directly responsible for easing the planet of millions of tons of trash.

Today World Cleanup Day is the single largest civic action to fight against waste. The reason for World Cleanup Day isn't to replace normal waste management. Instead, the goal is to raise awareness of waste and promote more sustainable practices, such as reducing consumption and embracing recycling and reuse.

This year World Cleanup Day takes place on September 17th. Gather your friends, family, co-workers, and community and do your part for a cleaner neighborhood and a greener world. 

Join World Cleanup Day!

Last updated : 19.08.2022

In category: For the green traveler, Events