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Clean up your planet, please!

Carlotta Cerri

”The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change. We need to stop looking for hope, and start looking for action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere” Greta Thunberg

Before I start with the actual post, I’ll answer one question you might be asking yourself:

Why would I clean after other people?

Why? Well, let’s see.

Because it’s also your planet. Because you want your grandchildren to still have a planet, but for that tuoi happen we need a change in mentality. Because in 2050 there might be more plastic than fish in the sea (that’s in 30 years!).

Not enough?

Because the plastic on your beach will end up in the sea, pollute water, kill animals and eventually show up on another beach in a different part of earth. Because the plastic on your beach is not just today’s plastic, it’s yesterday’s plastic, 50-year-ago’s plastic, and if you don’t collect it, it’ll be tomorrow’s plastic as well. Because the islands of plastic you see in the news are real—it’s where currents will take most of the plastic you don’t collect on your beach. And you can prevent that.

Not enough?

Because some people are disgusting and you (yes, you! Me! Us!) have to make up for it. Because your example will inspire others. Because even the change of one person matters. Because you’re raising the future generation and you’d better do it right. Because it’s your responsibility to teach your kids how to become adults who care about the environment. Because it will make YOU feel good (we’re all a bit selfish, after all).

How to organize a beach/park/river clean-up

With the help of Plastic Free Seas Worldwide, I organized two clean-ups for families with kids in two weeks.

I had wanted to do it for months! I first thought about it last March, but I never did it because What do I need to buy? How do I spread the word? Where do we go? How do we do it?

Starting anything always feels harder than it really is!

I reached out to the amazing volunteers of Plastic Free Seas Worldwide, who not only helped me, but also taught me that anybody can organize a beach clean-up and it doesn’t even need to be at the beach: it can be a park, a hill, a river, any area that needs cleaning up.

Here’s how:

  • Decide a spot, day and time (weekend is easier as more people are free, but if your main audience is students or families with kids it can be any week-day afternoon)
  • Find a group of friends and spread the word. Facebook events are so powerful, use them to do good: simply create an event and send it out to all of your Facebook friends. Expect about 10-15% of the people who say they’re interested or going.
  • If you know an association around you, reach out and ask for their support with tools and network: we all have the same big goal, and the people who care about the planet stick together and show up for each other!
  • If you’re planning on doing it regularly, get big sacks to take to every event and hand out to people. Or simply ask people to bring their own sack, it can be a big shopping bag for adults and a veggie bag for kids, possibly reusable ones (don’t add to the plastic in the world, please).
  • Meet up, clean up, chat up.
  • When it’s time to sort the trash, lay a big tarp down (or a big trash bag opened in half), empty the content of all the sacks on it, and separate the trash: glass, paper, recyclable plastic, non-recyclable plastic, cigarette and other trash.
  • Take all the bags to the recycling bins. When you start planning the event, you can call the town hall and ask them to send a team of public cleaners to help sorting out the trash and to take it away in their trucks at the end. If this is not possible, and there’s too much trash to take away, leave it near a trash bin and call the town hall to warn them there’s trash to collect and where.
  • Go enjoy the rest of the day with your friends, feel good about taking care of our beautiful planet and teaching your kids the importance of doing our part for the environment!

You want to do it on a regular basis? Here’s what you might need:

  • Big sacks to collect the trash (big potato sacks like these ones)
  • Big trash bags to sort the trash and take it to recycling bins
  • Big tarp (in alternative you can also open in half a big trash bag, but a tarp will make it easier)
  • Gloves (ask people to bring their own gloves, like gardening ones, but be prepared with silicon ones as well). My kids and I usually don’t use gloves unless the area is very dirty, we just wash our hands afterwards :-)

That’s it. Go you, our planet needs more environmental warriors!

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