Daria Blagova
Samvel Gevorgyan

Green Country: How to Bring 10 Thousand People to Clean the Streets Without Spending a Single Dollar

World Cleanup Day is a worldwide campaign focused on the clean up of our planet. This year 159 countries took part in it, including Armenia, a country that had no experience in any kind of green movements before. "Afisha Daily" learned from the organizer of the event, Diana Badeian, how to gather 10 thousand people together for the cleanup and not to spend (unlike foreign colleagues) a penny..
How to decide on the organization of the largest eco-action in the country

Let's imagine France, cover it with garbage and move it to the Pacific ocean — an island of this size is now floating there. There are several islands in the oceans, the problem of garbage is really very acute. Plastic is the biggest element of these islands, 8 million tons of which pollute the ocean every year. The fact that struck me the most is that most of this plastic has been produced in the last thirteen years. That is by you and me, by our generation. This problem is growing exponentially.

There are people all over the world who are trying to face this challenge. One of them is Rainer Nylak, who ten years ago decided to clean up Estonia from garbage. He called four friends and told them: "Guys, since the state and private companies are not helping us, let's go out on the streets and clean everything ourselves!" As a result, he collected fifty thousand people who came out and removed the garbage across the country in one day, and decided to turn this action into an annual one. Their movement got named "Let's do it". Gradually, different countries began to join them, and this year the founders have aimed to involve the whole world. As a result, 158 countries decided to participate in the World Cleanup Day. I learned about this quite late, somewhere in the early summer (the action was scheduled for September 15).
How did this happen? I work in IDeA Foundation ("Initiatives for Development of Armenia"), which was created by Ruben Vardanyan and his wife & partner Veronika Zonabend. Once we talked with Ruben about the future, and I told him that I am absolutely crazy about the environment, and in my free time I take online courses to get a better understanding of this field. The very next day he sent me and several colleagues a mail about the World Cleanup Day. In the mail there was a map of participating countries, and Armenia was not there. The mail contained a short message: "We need a leader." I immediately contacted the organizers, learned all the details and started to run the project.
I was born in Yerevan and left the city when I was two years old. I grew up in Moscow — I love both Moscow and Yerevan. I am grateful that I can consider these two cities my home. There are three anwsers on the question of why I decided to organize World Cleanup Day particularly in Armenia. First of all, there was no team. Secondly, Armenia really needs it. In childhood, every summer I would come to Yerevan and would be amazed by plastic bags flying overhead. In Moscow, the streets are clean — there is much better established cleaning process. And thirdly, Armenia has a very active civil society today, which opens up huge opportunities for such large projects.