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Business, Featured - Written by on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:04 - 7 Comments

50,000 Estonians clean up their country in one day

When Estonians regained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 they not only acquired new political freedoms, they inherited a mass of rubbish–thousands and thousands of tonnes of it scattered across illegal dumping sites around the country. When concerned citizens decided that the time had come to clean it up, they turned not to the government, but to tens of thousands of their peers.

Using a combination of global positioning systems and GoogleMaps, two entrepreneurs (Skype guru Ahti Heinla and Microlink and Delfi founder Rainer Nolvak) enlisted volunteers to plot the location of over 10,000 illegal dump sites, including detailed descriptions and photos. That, in itself, was ambitious. Phase II of the clean-up initiative was, by their own admission, rather outrageous: clean-up upwards of 80% of the illegal sites in one day, using mass collaboration.

So, on May 3rd, over 50,000 people scoured fields, streets, forests and riverbanks across the country, picking up everything from tractor batteries to paint tins (see a BBC video here). Much of this junk was ferried to central dumps, often in the vehicles of volunteers.

If 50,000 Estonians can clean-up their country in one day (albeit a relatively small one), what else could they do? As Tiina Urm, a spokesperson for the initiative put it when speaking to Reuters: “It is not really about the rubbish. It is about changing people’s mind sets. Next year it might be something else.”



7 Comments

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Jenn Durley
May 28, 2008 14:03

Wow! That’s amazing. I’ve always believed that significant environmental change can’t happen without mass participation, but felt cynical that it could ever be successfully organized and carried out. Way to go, Estonians; you have given me new hope!

merciless conformity might lead to boredome…. « Worte,Zeichen,Bilder
May 28, 2008 23:12

[...] 50,000 Estonians clean up their country in one day [...]

50,000 Estonians clean up their country in one day | Greenirvana.com
May 29, 2008 8:54

[...] When concerned citizens decided that the time had come to clean it up, they turned not to the govread more | digg [...]

Come ripulire Napoli in un giorno « The Hub Milano
May 29, 2008 11:38

[...] l’Estonia ci mostra un esempio d’innovazione e partecipazione di massa di natura inversa: come coinvolgere 50.000 persone nella ripulitura di una nazione. Altro che pulizie di [...]

Notional Slurry » links for 2008-05-30
May 30, 2008 2:33

[...] Wikinomics » Blog Archive » 50,000 Estonians clean up their country in one day (tags: collaboration crowdsourcing smartmobs social-engineering public-policy emergence diligence) [...]

I double dog dare you to clean up the earth. | Business in General
Jun 19, 2008 11:59

[...] Instead of waiting for the government to take care of it, or turning a blind eye and hoping it would just go away, they did something about it. 50,000 people scoured fields, streets, forests and riverbanks across the country, picking up everything from tractor batteries to paint tins (see a BBC video here). Much of this junk was ferried to central dumps, often in the vehicles of volunteers. ~Anthony D Williams [...]

Social networks for a good cause – growth, culture and impact : crisscrossed blog
Jul 20, 2009 9:33

[...] their grievances. This happened last year when 50,000 Estonians where mobilized over the web to clean up garbage throughout their country in one day; or in Egypt, where a Facebook group grew to 70.000 members [...]

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