‘Let’s Do It! World‘ is a civic-led mass movement that began in Estonia in 2008 when 50,000 people decided to clean up the entire country in just five hours. The concept has now spread to the rest of the world, including South Africa. In fact, there’s a big cleanup planned for cities such as Johannesburg in September this year. The local team at ‘Let’s do it! World’ spoke to me from Cape Town recently where they outlined the plan for South Africa in the months to come. It’s an interesting concept and one that will require the involvement of many stakeholders.
My name is Mariette Hopley and I’m the ambassador for Let’s Do It World Foundation, for the African Continent and surrounding islands.
Good day, my name is Silindile Mncube and I’m the SA leader for Let’s Do It.
My name is Margaret Roestorf and I work in the Africa ambassador office, and assist 60-something countries across Africa, to Let’s Do It.
Great, thank you guys, for chatting to me today. Now, can you tell us more about what Let’s Do It World is exactly? It’s a global movement that started in Estonia and it targets at having a clean world with zero trash. Can you tell us more?
Mariette Hopley: Let’s Do It World is a civic-led mass movement that started in Estonia. They decided that Estonia, as a country, had trash issues and they decided that they would want to try and clean-up their country in one day. This was a great vision from Rainer Nõlvak, who is the guy that was the visionary for the Let’s Do It Foundation, and they decided that they want to do it in one day. They actually, went ahead with the people from Estonia from Tallinn, might I add, and they got them together and they did a one-day clean-up operation and it was a huge success. From there, they decided that they would like to register the foundation, start the movement, and move globally – they did that. Low and behold, since 2008 up to now, this movement has grown to about 13.6 million people and it’s growing day-by-day.
We haven’t got the latest statistics of new countries that have come on board globally, but we are close to about 160 countries. Many participants in these countries have been to our leadership academies and these leaders have been trained. They understand the concept of waste management, the separation of waste and, also, what economic value is locked within waste. This, specifically, is now one of the things we challenge in terms of getting a circular model on the ground for proper waste management within these countries so that it can become an economically, sustainable model that can create an income for the community and for the government. So, we are looking forward to building every single day on what we have, as a foundation in terms of getting more people on board and having at least 5% of the world population participating in World Clean-Up Day on the 15th September 2018.
How long has the South African chapter been open for, and what is the extent of your programme in SA?
Mariette Hopley: Basically, I can just mention that in 2016, I was headhunted by Let’s Do It World at the IUCN Congress and from there we started negotiations in January 2017. I officially started office as ambassador for Let’s Do It World on the African Continent in March/April 2017. In Africa, there were only three countries that were listed but they were not active on the continent. Since the beginning of April, up to now, we have about 60 leaders that’s listed. Out of that we have 42 who are trained by our academy and then we have another 17 waiting to undergo leadership academy training in Africa for their countries in June. Africa has become very active. The ex-Let’s Do It Foundation leaders or people that participated in the movement were called to action so, they participated in the leadership academy last year October that was hosted in SA. They actively participated in clean-up operations and actually, mapping waste in their countries, which is one of the most crucial things in our movement, is to map waste. Illegal or legal dumpsites, illegal landfills versus legal landfills and how do we move trash. For SA, I’m going to hand you over to Silindile, she will tell you more about when it started.
Silindile Mncube: Wonderful, thank you. So, in terms of SA and what we’ve done so far is we’ve had about four clean-up campaigns since we started in May 2017. We started with a big bang on Mandela Day, where we invited the community of the Fisantekraal area in Cape Town to participate and start thinking about the awareness of waste in our communities. We moved onto various other clean-ups around the Cape Town area and partnering with many, like Plastics SA, and Environmental Affairs Department, and we’re just trying to get the movement out there and the partners involved as well. Now, we’re trying to move out of Cape Town and move in the greater SA. We’re in five provinces already and we’re trying to move into the rest of the four. So, thus far, that’s what we’ve done and we’re planning a mapping day in March so, hopefully by then, we can know the data that’s needed for us to be able to campaign on the 15th September.
Just to be clear, you’ve spoken about landfills. Are you only targeting landfills or are you targeting general streets as well. If you can just give us an idea: Do you go into a city centre? Would you go in the Johannesburg city centre, for example, or into Alex? Or would you just focus on areas where there is illegal dumping,?
Silindile Mncube: So, we’re not only focusing on landfill sites. We definitely want to get into the streets. That’s where we know there’s illegal dumpsites that we don’t even know of that aren’t recorded. So, we want to sensitise people within the community and even in Gauteng – we’re wanting to get into the Alex area as to what is happening there? The waste situation in Gauteng is the most hazardous so, if we can get to know and talk to people in communities then we start to understand the waste problem and how it’s actually originating so that we can be able to be sustainable in whatever actions we start doing this year.
What are your plans for Johannesburg because, obviously, it’s the biggest and most important urban hub in the country?
Silindile Mncube: At the moment it’s still in the planning stages. We’ve got a team that is in Tshwane and Johannesburg that’s working towards planning what the 15th September is going to be looking like. We’re hoping to get more people interested in coming on board, of course, because the more people are involved then the more we are able to have an action. But we want to start-off with Alex, being the core focus of Johannesburg, and then from Alex, try to pinpoint other areas in the greater-Johannesburg area to see which ones have the biggest dumpsites, illegal dumpsites that we can start to engage the government there to see what can be done, before we even reach the 15th September.
Now, once you’ve cleaned-up the area how do you make sure that it stays clean?
Silindile Mncube: It’s a process of engagement so, it’s not that we come in and we go out. We’re trying to engage as many partners as possible, and that’s the only way we can ensure sustainability. So, the community members who are staying there, do they know that this waste is harmful to them? The government and the municipalities that are in that area – do they know how to get involved? If it’s out of their reach, how many more entrepreneurs can start to see opportunities within the area to actually, remove the waste? We’re planning on a sustainability plan, which isn’t finished as yet but we’re working towards how can we make sure that once we start this awareness campaign, we start to involve the community more and them taking full ownership if the project.
The Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, recently started a programme where once a month they focus on clean-up programmes throughout the city. In fact, he was inspired by a similar program in Kigali, Rwanda. Should municipalities be doing more of this across the country?
Silindile Mncube: Of course, and I think that’s a great plan. The more people know that this is an issue, and more people are taking the opportunity to do something about it then the more people will see that this is a grave problem that needs all of us to work together. So, it doesn’t help for us to work in silos. It’s important for us to join hands because no organisation is the competition to another. How can we join hands to do the same thing on a bigger scale so, let’s do it!
Many people will probably listen to this and say, municipalities should be cleaning up more efficiently, and that it seems like they’re not doing a proper job. What would you make of that argument?
Silindile Mncube: We’re planning to launch a stakeholder meeting to start to understand the problem a little bit better. Every community is different and we’re trying to understand the root of the problem in every community so that we can start to understand what the core root that’s creating this waste. The government should be at the forefront of the conversation because we need to know what they have done in addressing this issue within their municipality. The community as well – what have they done, and the civic organisations that around that community. It’s all of our responsibilities together to make sure that our communities are clean.
In terms of how people can get involved with this, who do they go to and how do they get involved? What kind of volunteering work can they do, in terms of this programme?
Great, thank you very much for chatting to me today, guys.
Mariette Hopley: Thank you, Gareth, and thank you to all your listeners and the audience. We know that some of the biggest CEOs in SA are listening so, guys, we are challenging you. If you’ve got a couple of extra Shekels and you’d like to help us clean-up our country, ‘Let’s Do It.’
By Gareth Van Zyl. Source: BizNews