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:
- BBC reports: Spring cleanup in Estonia
- Reuters: Estonians scour country for big cleanup
- AP: IT gurus launched software cleanup of Estonia
- Bruce Sterling @ Wired.com: Estonia’s Digitized Garbage
Thank you, all friends and colleagues involved!
And congratulations, Rainer & the team for pulling this through.