Contrary to what most people could think, the main impediment to climate action is not information or will to act but imagination. More and more are asking us what to do? There are hundreds of possible answers. Focus on a plant-based diet, stop contributing to the fast fashion industry’s madness, use your bike to go to work… The list goes on and on. But there is one activity that we’d like to highlight in this article: organising, or taking part in community cleanups.

So far, Plan A has organised a dozen cleanups in various parks in Berlin. From individuals joining spontaneously to organised teams, there is a space for everyone when it comes to catching up with years of accumulation. Just last week, Plan A joined forces with our partner Delivery Hero to enjoy some of the last rays of Sun to collect trash in Mauer Park. As part of the company’s Hero Month, 25 employees participated to the action, where 10 bags of trash, about 2,000 cigarette butts and 2 broken bicycles were collected.

Collective action for climate change

Individual actions and personal commitment have merit. The individuals that take action on this level are determined to start with themselves to influence the greater society. Examples – from our zero-waste friend to the myriads turning to plant-based alternative diets – have proven the worth of such actions. Humans mostly believe what they see. And seeing someone being able to reduce its waste to a handful is effective. To take on its fully-fledged meaning, this type of approach needs to be doubled by collective action.

Cleanup Mauerpark

Before the beginning of the cleanup (Credit: Plan A)

Cleanups provide an opportunity to realise the connection between the small carelessness gestures of the world to the bigger picture. Trust us, when you make the conscious decision to pick up bottle caps practically rooted in the soil, you remember the last time you threw one away, and swear it’ll never happen again. Just a “fun” fact along the way: cigarettes account for almost half of all improperly disposed items in the world. And that is not counting wrapping, packaging or lighters.

What if we were acting massively on a local but bigger scale, on an efficient and massive action? This is what plan A aims to do! Without forgetting that individual actions are essential for a social and ecological transition to sustainability, we need to see the bigger picture. 

Your turn to roll up those sustainable sleeves

When you want to act for the planet, there are 1,001 ways to help! Whether as part of an employee engagement programme or a Sunday Funday activity with children, a cleanup is always a great place to start.

Direct action, with visible results: Take pictures, so you know what you’ve done and how you have contributed your part. What less known, the therapeutical effect of putting something back into its natural state. One must try to understand.

Read also: The Cleanup of Böcklerpark

Draw attention on soil pollution issues: We love our parks almost as much as we use them. Despite singular efforts to raise awareness and make sure each and every park user manages their own waste, the quantity of remaining rubbish is staggering. And you can do something about it, in cooperation with the city authorities – BSR will pick up the gathered trash if you call them 2 weeks before the date -, your friends, your work and other members of your society. 

Recycling guidelines in Berlin

All participants left with a guide to the Berliner recycling jungle (Credit: Plan A)

Help to trigger interest in waste management: Managing our trash has never been the sexiest climate action issue. We know now that it is nonetheless one of the principal battlefronts of sustainability. Inappropriate waste management leads to a decline in biodiversity, air and water quality, health, safety, and adverse performances in many other indicators of social and environmental welfare.

Cleaning our cities, parks and public spaces is the job of everybody. Public services alone cannot cope with the compounded effect of all the smokers tossing their cigarettes. This applies to climate change at large. We are talking about a collective issue that we all must feel concerned about so that everyone takes an active part into becoming a solution. Someone wise once said “when confronted with a problem you must face, you might as well make it enjoyable as well as useful. That is what park cleanups are there for. There is no plan B for our parks!

Building partnerships is essential in the fight against climate change. Are you an organisation or a company looking for help in the fight against climate change? Get in touch with us!  

Special thanks to Delivery Hero for their support and motivation for this event! You are all heroes of this planet!