Sustainability Blog

Three Fingers Up! The Fifth World Cleanup Day

By Apurva Gosalia - Sep 16, 2022

Tomorrow is the annual World Cleanup Day, a day of global social action aimed at combating the world’s solid waste problem. Being held on the third Saturday of September annually since 2018, people from 157 countries worldwide participated and removed nearly 90 thousand tons of trash from nature in the first year.

An organization now called Let’s Do It! World, based in Tallinn, Estonia, founded World Cleanup Day. Things began when the group encouraged 50,000 Estonians to go out into their communities in an event called Let’s Do It 2008! They collected 10,000 tons of illegally dumped waste.

Word spread, and by the next year, 250,000 people joined in around Europe. By the end of 2011, more than 2.5 million people had participated in cleanup actions in 16 countries around the world. Let’s Do It! World is now an accredited member of the United Nations Environment Program. Since 2017, the movement uses the hand gesture W sign, aka “Three Fingers Up,” as its symbol.

The event builds on similar actions, including Clean Up the World in Australia and National Cleanup Day in the U.S.

The goal of the first World Cleanup Day in 2018 was to involve 5% of the world’s population (about 380 million people). The effort fell short of the target but still mobilized about 18 million people worldwide.

World Cleanup Day includes trash picking and waste mapping spanning every time zone, on sea and land. Nearly every country holds an environmental cleanup event, concluding near the international date line in Hawaii and American Samoa.

In the places where participants live, groups form to collect trash from streets, squares or natural areas. For 24 hours, garbage is piled up at a collection point and taken away by municipal waste disposal companies. 

The initiative aims to motivate cities and communities worldwide to remove waste and keep public spaces clean. Actors report their annual activities, which include recycling and resource conservation projects, tree planting, water conservation and water saving programs.

STAY SuSTAYnable! or Clean Up!

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