This Saturday, September 15th, residents of more than 150 countries around the world will participate in a large, coordinated effort for good. The event, dubbed World Cleanup Day, is expected to bring 20 million people together to clean up litter, as reported by Lonely Planet. The cleanup will begin at daybreak in New Zealand and end 36 hours later in Hawaii.
While the coordinated global effort is new, the concept actually dates all the way back to 1989. Ian Kiernan and Kim McKay, a pair of Australian environmentalists, launched a one-day effort to clean up plastic from Sydney Harbor that they called Clean Up Australia Day. The event vastly exceeded expectations, bringing 40,000 people together and resulting in 5,000 tons of trash being removed from the harbor. The day’s success inspired similar events across Australia in subsequent years.
In 2007, a group of Estonian outdoors enthusiasts launched the Let’s Do It! World organization to work toward the same goal of cleaning up trash in the country’s forests and open spaces. This effort was also successful, attracting the attention of the media and public and spreading throughout Europe and beyond. Eventually, the two efforts joined forces to create a worldwide day of cleanup.
“This global, civic-led action will unite local communities worldwide who are battling with the challenges of mismanaged waste, such as litter and illegal dumpsites, which is tarnishing their beaches, rivers, forests, and streets,” the Let’s Do It! Campaign said in a press release. You can follow live updates via the World Cleanup Day YouTube channel and Facebook page. For volunteer opportunities and more information, head to the organization’s website.