Teeme Ära: I’m so proud of my colleagues

Estonia inherited a mass of rubbish after it regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 but it has only added to the problem since. 50,000 people, more than 3% of Estonian population of 1.3 million were out this Saturday to clean the forest, roadsides and other public areas from illegal waste. Volunteers had mapped over 10 656 garbage dumping sites all over the country by the beginning of April. This weekend 207 temporary collecting stations were put up to gather the waste collected by the volunteers.

6000 tons of illegal waste has already been registered to been collected during the initiative, more specific numbers are yet to come in the following weeks. The initiative aims to recycle up to 80% of the collected waste, making it first massive recycling project in Estonia. The usual amount of garbage recycled in Estonia is 10%, so this is eight times more than the average.

This is a quick summary of Teeme Ära 2008.

As only suitable for Skype, a number of our best brains helped the initative as volunteers to develop all geomapping and logistics software to keep the tens of thousands of moving parts under control. I am just in awe for what they did over the nights and weekends of their spare time, besides building the infamous software that lets people all over the world talk for free.

And to show that we are also not afraid to get our hands really dirty, there was an even longer list of Skypers who went into the woods. See here for the before and after pictures of the junk pile assigned to Skype.

See some more coverage in English:

Thank you, all friends and colleagues involved!

And congratulations, Rainer & the team for pulling this through.


  • bertrand

    Hi Sten !
    Beyond your colleagues, you can be proud of your country. It was amazing. All kind of people, in every place of Estonia, united to make their country a better place. No emphasis, just simple good mood, a sense of responsibility, and a strong will to make it happen. (under a very cooperative sun 😉 )
    Kennedy said “[…] ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”. This may look like emphatic, but this is precisely what the Estonian people did last week. In France for example, the same proportion would mean that more than 1.8 Million persons would behave in the same way.. I doubt 😉
    This is also a lesson about how IT allows to change the way citizens are interacting with public affairs. What was the monopoly of the State, and then accessible only to corporations, is now under the reach of an ad-hoc group of private individuals, equipped with a reasonably affordable infrastructure of communications.
    It is not the first time E-stonia is taking the lead in transforming public management. After the doubts that may have been expressed in the previous post on innovation, this shows that there is still a clear momentum here. Let’s keep it going on.. and make daring ideas become real. This won’t happen without a possibly difficult discussion on where the Government should concentrate its resources in order to make it comparatively easier to innovate and to invest in research. At least, “Teeme Ära” showed that there are persons who actually care about the country and its future. That’s already big step to have such engaged citizen ! You have the will, now invent the way 😉