World Cleanup Day began in 2018. It brings together millions of people for “the biggest waste collection day in human history.” World Cleanup Day 2021 was on 18 September.
Read below to learn how three UN entities - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) - celebrated the day in 2019 and 2020.
UNESCO staff #TrashHack Paris on World Cleanup Day
Every year we produce over 2 billion tons of waste. Governments, organizations and individuals alike have a role to play in order to find solutions for overproduction and the inevitable waste that come with it. Unfortunately, this will take time and right now large amounts of waste still end up in nature, on the streets, in parks and rivers.
This is why UNESCO has partnered with World Cleanup Day, calling for volunteers all around the globe to clean up the Planet by picking up litter in their local area. This yearly event not only frees our environment from trash, it also pushes us to reflect on what we collect: Where did it come from? How far was it to the next bin? What would have happened to it if I hadn’t picked it up right now?
In 2019, 21 million people participated and picked up and sorted 10,000 tons of waste. For 2020, UNESCO launched its global #TrashHack campaign on the occasion of World Cleanup Day on 19 September, and invited their own staff to show their commitment to a clean Planet and participate.
Thirty dedicated Paris-based colleagues, across all of UNESCO’s Sectors and age ranges, joined the millions of volunteers around the world and spent part of their weekend to picking up and sorting waste individually or in small groups in- and outside the city.
“This is definitely an inspirational and valuable movement which has motivated me to view our living environment issue from a ‘front-line’ perspective. Most of all, I really enjoyed doing the clean-ups with our great peers!”, said Shuyi Jiang who works in UNESCO’s Education Sector.
In total, around 30 bags full of trash were collected by our committed colleagues, which amounted to around 50 kg of glass, paper, plastic and other residual waste.
While the most recurring items collected were leaflets, metro tickets, cigarette butts and – unlike in previous years – face masks, some curiosities could also be found: broken reading glasses, for example, and a completely untouched pizza. Some colleagues were surprised at the presence of waste in really every corner. Rita Doroszlai from UNESCO-IIEP noted though: “There was zero waste in the forest of Marly where we went! I did a lot of digital cleaning instead. Next time I will definitely join the city cleaning group!”
As an alternative to physical cleanups of streets and parks, colleagues were invited to do a digital cleanup: by deleting unneeded content from their mailboxes and the cloud, they could reduce the energy consumption of the servers on which it is hosted. The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Seven GB of emails and other files were erased by our colleagues on the day.
“We enjoyed the cleaning of an area where we pass by and see trash on the road very often, but we usually don’t have time to stop and put it into the baskets. We hope that this act encourages others to keep their surroundings clean and continue to clean up every day, not just on World Cleanup Day!”, summarized Jamel Ben Abdallah of UNESCO’s Culture Sector.
Would you like to join us, too? UNESCO’s Trash Hack campaign is still running. Trash Hacks are simple actions people can do to reduce waste, like being part of a local clean-up event, as an entry point to further engagement with sustainable development. The call for UNESCO staff to join World Cleanup Day was a cross-sectoral to raise awareness among staff about easy green actions can increase understanding about waste, lead to the transformation of behaviours of consumption and increase appreciation for the local environment.
Learn more about:
• Environmental Management at UNESCO
• Education for Sustainable Development
Contact: [email protected]
UNFICYP Celebrates World Cleanup Day 2020
In Cyprus, UNFICYP marked World Clean Up Day 2020 by bringing peacekeepers and Youth Champions for Environment and Peace together, a group of 24 young Cypriots from both communities, to combat the solid waste problem inside the buffer zone as a bi-communal effort to protect the environment. They were joined by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Setlios Philanthropic Foundation.
IOM Celebrates World Cleanup Day 2019 by Cleaning up the Nile Bank and Hosting a Green Exhibition
In 2019, IOM Egypt celebrated the #WorldCleanUpDay on Sunday 22 September 2019. Over 50 IOM staff members from the country and regional office along with representatives from Sudanese, Ethiopian and Yemeni migrant communities’ joint efforts to clean up the Nile bank across the street from IOM premises. This event has promoted community engagement for a significant cause.
The clean-up activity was followed by IOM Green Exhibition on the rooftop, during which the Environmental Working Group presented the IOM Green Champions: entailing IOM staff members who took the initiative and commitment towards environmentally friendly practices in the course of the year.
Additionally, different booths were set up on the rooftop, each one tackling one aspect of green practices that can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly workplace. Participants also had the chance to upcycle plastic bottles, by decorating them and reusing them as flowerpots, as well as planting various flowers and vegetables. Other booths provided attendees with a chance to learn more about upcycling along with waste management, such as Kendaka.Upcycles, and GoClean.
The event was organized by IOM Environmental Working Group and funded with the help of the counter trafficking team from the Migration and Protection Unit (MPA) and Migration Health Assessment Centre (MHAC) along with the office maintenance budget. This event also aimed at enhancing the waste management system within the organization with the purchase of different colored bins inside as well as outside the premises for waste separation.