With the increasing awareness of the impact of waste, there comes a desire to take action. It is very clear that most of the areas around us have a “garbage crisis”. The ground near bus stops is decorated with cigarette butts, grass fields full of plastic wrappers and bottles, the backs of buildings used as an unofficial dumpster to leave unwanted items behind, and much more.
This kind of environmental pollution is hazardous for many reasons, including litter being the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria and rodents as well as small pieces of trash ending up in the stomachs of birds, fish, whales, etc..
In addition, the harmful chemicals in cigarette butts could severely contaminate water and soil, and the problem with cigarette butts is that they are so abundant. It is hard to imagine the impact throwing one cigarette on the ground can make until you see a hundred of them on the floor.
This is when we realized we should take immediate action.
“Clean up Sundays is a grassroot movement which aims to promote social change with regards to civilian public waste management.
We want to create a healthier environment for all, through the collective action of regular self-pick up of garbage every second Sunday of the month. And by doing so, increase civic engagement and societal integration in various neighborhoods of the city.”
This movement has no location, the location is outside where you live, in the park next to your house, or the beach where you surf. It is any place you come in contact with that is full of litter, litter that has probably been accumulating for a long time.
We are calling for a small scale action taken by a large amount of people in different areas. This is not a project that requires meticulous planning and careful discussion. This requires a pair of gardening gloves, a few trash bags and some friends (but you could definitely do it alone).
It is time for us to do our part and clean up our communities.
“Clean-Up-Sundays is a result of various discussions and circumstances that we experienced throughout the past months. The original idea is from Ruanda, where people are obliged by the government to dedicate one day of the month, called “UMUGANDA”, to cleaning up their community. Besides all the headlines you read about the bad trash system in Rome and about the city drowning in trash, we have been walking the same dirty and trash-filled path to university every morning for the past months. Together with some friends we decided to change that. We thought that it doesn’t take a lot to clean up your neighborhood and it is a good way to give something back to the community you live in (especially as a foreigner). From there the idea started growing and more people got involved. The idea was to create a movement to encourage people to clean up their own communities once a month with their neighbors and friends – as simple as that, because obviously the government doesn’t do it.”
We decided our first day out cleaning our community was going to be on Sunday the 14th of April. 8 students met at the parking lot in front of the student dormitory in Tor Vergata and spent around 4 hours collecting over 20 trash bags worth of plastic, cardboard, beer bottles, cigarettes, and so much more. The aftermath was an overwhelming sense of satisfaction about what we managed to accomplish by the time it started raining. We had almost cleaned the entire parking lot.
Meanwhile on the other side of Rome in Verderocca, one student joined this movement and went to clean up a park near his house by himself! This action alone showed how planning a cleanup activity is not as hard as we make it seem. Our communities are out there full of litter and it is not as much effort as I thought it was to get up and pick it up.
“The most beautiful feeling I had while taking trash out of a park? Well, knowing that people were looking at me, wondering whether I was getting paid or not. I wasn’t! I felt so good after hearing somebody say “I’ll tell my daughter to do it” or “We need more people caring about this place”. That was my payment and that will be my only payment for every clean-up sunday I’ll make: “we need more people caring about this place”, we need more people caring about Earth!”
Unfortunately, less than a week after we cleaned the parking lot, we started to see a lot of plastic bags, cups, and papers on the ground. It was disheartening to see that there weren’t efforts as consistent as we hoped in regards to keeping our spaces clean and litter free. It is worth mentioning that there is a strong lack of garbage bins in the area of Tor Vergata, and for the people not willing to carry their trash until they find a bin, littering seems like the way to behave.
“I was really shocked about the amount of trash we found. An absurd amount of cigarettes, moist tissues, beer bottles and all types of plastic, definitely over 50 packets of cigarettes and even pasta. It took us almost 4 hours and we couldn’t finish to clean the parts we planned. Yesterday we went to Campus again to find out that where we had just cleaned less than a week ago was already full of trash again. Everybody complains that Rome is dirty and unorganized, but these initiatives prove that if the population doesn’t contribute by avoiding littering, nothing will change. Each of us must do their part if we want to see real change in the world.”
-Ana Carolina Marcondes
We still have a long way to go. We must advocate for the cleanliness of our communities. This movement has the potential to change so much about our environment full of trash, but it is nothing without the willingness of the citizens in our world to maintain its cleanliness after it has been cleaned. As a society, we must start understanding the large effects our small actions have, whether they be good or bad.