But just like the ocean is a sum of thousand godzillion drops of water, cleaning the entire planet is to clean each and every small segment of it. Don’t ever think that your efforts are meaningless! There is always a bit feasible for you to clean and maintain.

Everybody is competent enough to join in. Such modesty is present at the core of any huge successful cleanup and it should also be an essential dimension of the 2018 World Cleanup.

I have travelled to quite a few countries and worked with the teams who have achieved amazing success. From their work I drew 10 key lessons for a successful cleanup.

1. Be outrageously positive!

Let everybody know that you’re passionate about a cleaner world! Frame your messages around words like cleantogetherunity, dignity, responsibilitylove.

Use words waste and pollution in moderation. There is a lot to change in our dictionaries! Waste is really a resource, landfill is a future mine, pollution is an opportunity. Learn to translate everything negative into positive, and nobody will be able to stop you!

2. Keep repeating one simple message.

Prepare your core message, create 3-5 goals and just keep repeating them. “Let’s clean our country in one day!” proved to work fine in most countries. Add a few achievable goals, keep the strategy plain and just do it!

3. Learn from those who have already done it.

Repeat endeavours that were successful, avoid those that weren’t. You don’t need to be original and waste your energy on too many new ideas. We’re about attaining a clean world and that is actually accomplishable if we focus on one goal and work together.


4. Believe in people!

All people are essentially good. The only evils are ignorance and separation; these two are merely a surface crust, easy to shatter. Just hang around, shine with inspiration and positivity and people will start to shine back. Just be patient.

A few years ago I visited the Moldavian Let’s Do It! team while they were preparing their campaign. I still remember the eyes of a bright young girl, Nadejda, who came from a meeting and exclaimed happily: “They said yes! I asked them seven times before, and they always said no. Now they said yes!”

Believing in people doesn’t mean passively waiting for them to surprise you out of the blue. It means approaching them, talking to them, engaging them – again and again. Don’t blame them for saying no. Rather accept the responsibility for not expressing yourself well enough, work on your message and try again.

5. Make use of each and every resource!

There isn’t an idea, a person, a technological gadget or a philosophy that couldn’t be employed for making the world cleaner. Beat this into your head and make use of everything that becomes available to you.

6. Rely on existing structures and organisations.

Just get them on board! If you can’t achieve it at first, try again … and again.

7. Celebrate every success and failure.

Here is a test of your sincerity: if you can celebrate a no as you celebrate a yes, then you’re not coming to people to manipulate them. You’re coming to include them – as a free person would do to another free person.

Learn from each and every pain as this is your most important teacher in life helping you reach a paradigm shift. Ask people to help you understand their no, celebrate their frankness for declining your invitation and do not hesitate to ask them whether they know anyone who might support your goal.

8. Detach from “your” project.

This is particularly important if you started the project, therefore hold it as yours and think it can only be successful if you guide it.

If you want a group that has gathered around a project to really take it up as their own, you, the initiator have to let it go at a certain point.

Be the exemplary follower of common aims – this is the best leadership you can offer your team. Be loyal to these aims even if they don’t match 100% with your ideals and values.

Just try not to take yourself too seriously.

9. Use your power wisely!

This is probably the most important of all the points. Most projects fail because of power games in teams. Talk about this openly and be aware of the symptoms of the misuse of power.

It is your responsibility to recognise when you have more power than others – and when you have less. There is a mature proactive approach in both cases – you can learn it and use it for the benefit of yourself, your colleagues, your country, your planet.

Whether you possess your power or not, determines the majority of your behaviours in communication. If you don’t possess your power, you will give out double signals as your words and your body language don’t correspond to each other.

If you really want people to follow the idea you are spreading, they must feel as your equal in the project. They must start to believe that you believe in them and that your positivity is genuine.

10. Take time for yourself and each other!

Burned-out volunteers are a waste. We can’t afford to create wasted human beings – that is not ecology! Go for a walk, play games and do sports together. And when you need time just for yourself, take it and do what you need to do!

Congratulate yourself and know that you’ve already done enough.


By Nara Petrovič