One of the things I admire about Switzerland is that streets and other public spaces are clean. Living here, I have learned that it is a part of the culture. And various initiatives help to keep streets and other public spaces, that we all use, extra clean. Züri wie neu, which has similarities with FixMyStreet, is one example, through which people like you and I can communicate problems that need to get fixed. Another example is Clean-up-day, an event during which anyone can participate in cleaning up in various places – and thereby help increase the quality of life for all of us. Helping out during the Clean-Up-Day event, I was impressed by several things:
# 1: Thousands of helpers
Several thousand people helped out at over 400 local clean-up-day initiatives across Switzerland.
# 2: Strong support from local population
As I was walking around with many other helpers collecting trash such as paper, cans, cigarettes, and different kinds of plastic products including plastic bottles, I was positively surprised about how well the initiative was received by the local population. Several people – not least elderly people – praised us in different ways for the initiative we had taken in keeping the city clean. It clearly contributed to making people smile and feel well.
# 3: Clean-up-day as a part of educational initiatives
During the event, I learned that the Clean-up-day event was a part of educational initiatives at school clubs. It was a wonderful to experience that teachers and students had prepared for Clean-up-day and wanted to really make a positive difference for the environment and for their fellow citizens. A natural part of one of the local initiatives, I joined, was to also create awareness in the respective neighbourhoods, where we helped clean up, about the importance of recycling and keeping streets and other public spaces clean.
# 4: Competition added extra energy
At one local initiative, a teacher had launched an interesting competition during which each person had the possibility to guess how many bags of trash we would collect all together during the clean up initiative. I noticed that this little competition added some extra energy to the cleaning up effort.
# 5: The event promoted knowledge sharing
During the collective effort at Clean-up-day I discovered that participants also enjoyed sharing ideas / knowledge / experiences with each other as we walked from a to b. For example, I found it interesting to communicate with fellow participants about where the materials used to produce things people had decided to throw out, come from. At the local initiatives, I had the privilege to join during Clean-up-day, I found it quite extraordinary to have the opportunity to learn from people, who have grown up in several different countries around the world, for example Eritrea, Gambia, India, Switzerland, Brazil, and the USA.