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Major artists support worldwide, Estonia-inspired cleanup day

Previous World Cleanup Day in Ukraine.
Previous World Cleanup Day in Ukraine. Source: worldcleaupday.org

World Cleanup Day (WCD) 2018 on Saturday, 15 September sees music stars join millions worldwide, getting their hands dirty, as well as performing and spreading the message, with input from ERR News too.

WCD 2018 is a 36-hour* global 'green wave', highlighting and combating global waste, especially the single-use plastic epidemic.

The day may be global but its origins are Estonian. Ten years ago, just 50,000 people embarked on the inaugural event (''Teeme Ära'').

Major league musicians

Music stars are to greet and thank those making the day happen with music and the inspiration to make a change.

Artists include Paul Oakenfold (UK), Gilles Peterson (UK), Jack Johnson (US), José González (Sweden), Kimbra (NZ), Amadou & Mariam (Mali), Ewert & The Two Dragons (Estonia) Eivør Palsdóttír (Faroe Islands), NOËP (Estonia) and many more.

Gilles Peterson

Award-winning British DJ Gilles Peterson says "I was DJing in Bali a few years ago and I went to the nearby town, but the beach was disgraceful. There was plastic everywhere, it was impassable. I was shocked, as I'd always thought of Bali as being this beautiful place. Now we know how much the plastics affect the oceans. We have to be more aware and conscious and not get lazy in expecting others to do something. I'm fully behind anything that raises awareness of the importance of cooperation. Life is beautiful, let's not ruin it!"

Previous World Cleanup Day in Thailand. Source: worldcleanupday.org

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson, Hawaiian singer-songwriter whose albums have topped the Billboard 200 charts four times says "it's empowering to be part of a massive day of global action and know that millions of people are showing up at the same time to do their part. It makes me feel connected to people worldwide."

"As a surfer growing up in Hawaii, I was always on the ocean. I noticed a lot of debris on the high tide line...more and more plastic washing up on the shore, till I could ignore it no longer. Through music I can raise awareness of plastic ocean pollution.

Jack has practised what he preaches: ''We've eliminated single-use plastic backstage on tour and promote reusable cups to give fans an alternative to disposable ones. Events like World Cleanup Day help to stress the importance of a clean, healthy planet, but we also need to reduce waste in our daily lives."


Kimbra, one of New Zealand's best-known female singer-songwriters, whose video "Somebody That I Used To Know" has garnered over 1.1 billion hits plus a Grammy Award, says "we are under no illusions about the state of our planet and the obvious impact we are having with our lifestyles. It is vital we do what we can to reduce our footprint on earth. I admire the way World Clean Up Day makes us pull together to do our bit. Maybe we can't clean up the world alone, but through communal efforts we can see the impact of great things when we work together. Our planet needs us more than ever and I'm proud to be involved with this movement."

Herencia de Timbiqui

Colombian band Herencia de Timbiqui understands the importance of World Cleanup Day from experiences at home: ''We've seen so much destruction of our natural habitat. As a band, we're committed to fighting for the preservation of our planet in the hope of handing down a healthy world to future generations."

Amadou & Mariam

Amadou & Mariam, from the West African nation of Mali, has supported huge acts like U2, Blur, Coldplay and the Scissor Sisters, also appearing with Shakira, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Tinariwen.

"Pollution is a major issue for our collective future as human beings. Global organisation of individual people, each one with his consciousness, is the only way to have a chance to work it out all over the planet, wherever we came from."

Previous World Cleanup Day in Saudi Arabia Source: worldcleaupday.org

Large-scale festivals generate massive waste

Music festivals like Glastonbury or Burning Man attract hundreds of thousands of people. Whilst awesome for festival-goers, it generates phenomenal waste.

Progress is happening, though. Over half the refuse (983 tonnes) at Glastonbury (UK) in 2014 was recycled, including 400 tonnes of chipped wood, 162 tonnes of scrap metal, 114 tonnes of organic waste, 85 tonnes of cans and plastic bottles, 23 tonnes of glass, and even 11.2 tonnes of clothing, tents and sleeping bags.

Almost the same volume was not recycled, however, so it is clear festivals and the music industry in general have a significant role in embracing change; artists are a great way to get the message across.

Importance of musicians

Tanner Watt of REVERB, organiser of eco-friendly festivals and band touring, says "there is nothing more powerful than an artist leading by example. Music and musicians influence all aspects of popular culture, so when an artist does this, it means a lot. Fans appreciate real commitment from their heroes and can't fail to follow the example."

And it all started in Estonia

World Cleanup Day brings millions of volunteers from 150 countries as they unite their energy, goodwill and environmental concern, all on 15 September, wherever they are in the world.

The driving force is ''Let's do it! World'', which has initiated clean up activities across 113 countries so far, with over 20 million volunteers, over the past decade.

The movement began as ''Teeme Ära'' in Estonia in 2008 where 50,000 people cleaned up the whole country in just five hours. Tech created by Ahti Heinla, formerly of Skype and co-founder of Starship Technologies, mapped over 10,000 trash collection points and coordinated the work.

On Estonia's 100th birthday, it has reached the whole world.

For more info visit the World Cleanup site here.

ERR News will also be doing its small part on the day with live updates, following the whole 24 hours across all the world's timezones.


*There are currently 37 local timezones across the globe, some of them with only 30-45 minute windows, hence WCD 2018 being 36 hours in total.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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