American anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
It's a message that Tom Kleyn, a graphic designer from the Netherlands, clearly took to heart. Tom decided that instead of sitting around thinking about how much the polluted waterway he biked past every day on the way to work bothered him, he'd actually do something about it. He started getting up half an hour earlier every day and used that time to pick up some of the trash.
After he posted some pictures to Facebook, he quickly gained a lot of support from his friends. Filling up one bag at a time, they made relatively quick work of the mess until, one day, there was no more mess to clean.
“Everyday, I ride my bicycle to work along the river bank. It’s a nice route to ride, except for one part.”
“A stretch of the river bank is covered in plastic bottles and other pieces of (mainly) plastic trash.”
“This is the littered part.”
Tom stated that the trash was a real eyesore for him, so he decided to start cleaning it up.
“It took me about 30 minutes to fill one garbage bag with trash.”
“But, one bag doesn’t really make a dent in an area as polluted as this.”
“I vowed to fill one bag of trash each day I passed the spot.”
Tom says it took six days to clean just the area between the arrows.
“I shared my experiences on Facebook and now, over 180 people ‘like’ the project.”
“A lot of people were all like ‘There should be more people like you!'”
“And there were: this is my friend Rick helping out.”
That’s quite a difference already!
“The location was next to a bike path, and quite a few people got off their bikes and said what a great initiative this was.”
“The trash tried to communicate with me.”
“The last garbage bag.”
“In 22 bags of trash, this is the only item I deemed worth keeping.”
“The idea is to motivate people to fill one garbage bag with litter each year.”
“It only takes 30 minutes, it really makes a difference and you will be amazed about how good you’ll feel afterwards.”
“An Eurasian Coot started nesting in the part which I cleaned.”
Credit: Bored Panda