President's Blog

27 Jun 2017 10:01 Age: 2 yrs

Guest Blog: Kadi Kenk on Cleaning the World in a Day

Category: ISWA BLOG, ISWA News


Kadi Kenk is Head of Partnerships for Let’s Do It!, a civic-led mass movement that began in Estonia in 2008 when 50,000 people united together to clean up the entire country in just five hours. Since then, Let’s Do It! has spread this model—one country in one day—around the world. To date, 113 countries and over 16 million people have joined them to clean up illegal waste.

Cleaning the world in a day, keeping it clean together!


World Clean-up Day, 15 September 2018, is an event that deserves attention for its magnitude and ambition. It calls upon 5% of the world’s population to roll up their sleeves on one day. As the sun rises in Japan, we will see one of the largest and most positive civic cooperation efforts. We can show that, by working together, we can clear up the trash polluting our nature. By using mass appeal campaigns and smart technological solutions, 380 million people are expected to join the cleanup day. Find out more at 


Meanwhile, we are also excited to be working on the world’s most comprehensive waste database, built for mapping waste pollution and organising civic-led initiatives to collect it. While the campaign is intended to end the world’s trash blindness and put the topic into every individual’s, decision maker’s and business leader’s agenda, the database will be a key element in doing so and achieving so much more. One of the key goals is to eliminate illegal waste for good. 


Two key benefits to data


Firstly, collection of data of illegal waste spots and presenting its triggers: 


1. Action

A significant amount of people, when spotting illegal waste on a map, or being presented with the data, get instantly anxious to do something about it.  

2. Motivation

Spreading the information of the real extent of waste pollution into mainstream media activates masses. Quantification makes a big problem into measurable problems. What was before incomprehensible, becomes personal and emotional. Something that triggers a motivation to be part of the solution.

3. Trust

Planning the resources for cleanups based on data and being able to present the results, builds trust. People find it easier to believe that cleaning up all the rubbish in their community is possible and they get to see the outcome of their actions. There is nothing more rewarding. 


And on the other hand, the data allows for: 


1. Assessment

Seeing patterns in leakages of waste pollution, the locations, amounts and types of waste, helps to understand the root cause of the pollution and plan tools to solve it. 

2. Prevention

Data is a strong motivational tool for innovative or basic investments in waste management and material efficiency as well as a designing new policies and financial incentives by governments. 

3. Implementation

A massive cleanup campaign and communication going hand-in-hand with it, prepares the public for any changes that are required to enhance the waste management system. People are more willing to witness changes and show public interest on the topic. 


ISWA as part of the coalition


World Cleanup Day is a coalition of partners helping to make the day and the long-term goals it serves, a success. When mobilising people for waste mapping and clean-ups, and then figuring out the plan how to keep the planet clean, the best of their field should be included in the process. ISWA shares the concern for a clean and healthy planet and has a long-standing international experience in solid waste management. World Cleanup Day is a great cooperation platform for promoting waste prevention and sustainable waste management as a concept which is based on global principles and local conditions. 


By calling to close the world’s 50 biggest dumpsites, ISWA is addressing one aspect of world’s illegal waste pollution that requires more than just the combined efforts of individuals. And by doing so, supporting the future vision that all partners in the coalition of World Cleanup Day share – that waste deserves a higher ranking in our community development and should be always viewed as a resource, never left to pollute our nature, never left untreated. When working together, we can draw even more attention to the urgency of the problem and trigger the whole spectrum of illegal waste – from careless littering, to senseless dumping. 


For the actions of World Cleanup Day, the beneficial role of ISWA lies with its members expertise and assistance regarding the treatment of the collected material, e.g. supporting to find the best and most sustainable options for each region and making connections to competent local partners, while the anticipated amount of waste to be collected on the day is hundreds of millions of tonnes all over the world. Also, the experts can engage in the development of the world’s illegal waste database and the opportunities it should provide for analysing the data and using it for developing long terms solutions to tackle the problem of illegal waste pollution. 


Any suggestions for specific cooperation from ISWA members are highly welcomed and can be sent to the head of partnerships of World Cleanup Day – Kadi Kenk,  


The world needs more joint actions and cooperation to tackle the problems we are facing globally. The coalition, for cleaning the world in a day and keeping it clean after, with ISWA as a part of it, can most definitely solve one of the pressing issues and eliminate illegal waste from our planet once and for all.