The motto “Get up, get ready, get involved!” opens the discussion on 15 years of The Big Cleanup
With informative lectures and the “Climate Change – the Importance of Public Involvement” discussion, the month of pre-cleanup has been opened, during which we are preparing for The Big Cleanup, which will take place on April 30 across all Latvia. During the discussion, in which the patron of The Big Cleanup, the President of Latvia, Egils Levits, took part, the participants put emphasis on both what is already being done in our country to prevent climate change and what society as a whole and everyone individually can do to achieve this goal and be able to save our planet for future generations.
This will be the 15th year in a row that The Big Cleanup is being held in Latvia, during which we not only clean up and improve our surroundings, but also raise awareness and educate society on climate change and the importance of our actions in this process. Matīss Šteinerts, architect and anthropologist, spoke on working together as a unifying mechanism for society, which is especially important when talking about The Big Cleanup and public involvement in working towards a common goal. In turn, Igors Kudrjavcevs, doctor and qigong instructor, shared his experience on how to inspire yourself and others. The first part of the event was closed by a band that is beloved in Latvia, The Sound Poets.
The lectures were followed by the “Climate Change – the Importance of Public Involvement” discussion, in which Egils Levits, President of Latvia, Jānis Reirs, Minister for Finance, Artūrs Toms Plešs, Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Juris Šleiers, Head of Public Relations at Rimi Latvija, Līga Abizāre, Head of Environmental Education at AS “Latvijas valsts meži” (Latvia’s State Forests), Gints Kaminskis, Chairman of the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, Aira Priedīte, a representative from the European Latvian Association, as well as Mārtiņš Rozentāls, Corporate Sales Director at AAS “BALTA”, took part.
Egils Levits, the President of Latvia: “The Big Cleanup is a relatively new and national tradition, which has become just as important as the thousand-year-old tradition of Midsummer and the 150-year-old Song Festival, in which the whole nation is involved. If we look outside Latvia, the great traditions of this kind that everyone can take part in are quite unique. The Big Cleanup, as one such traditions, is a source of our sense of community, which is very important not only for us to work together for Latvia, but also for us to contribute to the small territory of Latvia, which is not large on the world map, but is very significant. We inspire others through our example – Latvia is one of the leaders of the World Cleanup Day movement! Latvia is one of the first, and we see this movement gain ground worldwide!”
Jānis Reirs, Minister for Finance, added: “The Big Cleanup is a good tradition, not only to collect waste and experience unforgettable positive moments while volunteering together, but also to educate people on the topic of the environment and Green Course. Green investments are a very topical issue today, and unprecedented financial support is being provided for the Green Course. Investments under the European Union funds, including the Recovery Fund, provides 1.8 billion euros in support for Latvia to achieve its green goals in the period from 2021 to 2027.”
“In the last couple of years, a significant increase in public involvement and the desire to get involved in nature conservation activities has been observed in Latvia, which indicates a turning point in the public mindset and attitude towards nature. For example, in the recently introduced deposit system, almost 1.7 million packagings have already been collected which confirms that society is ready to get involved! The Big Cleanup, which is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year, is a great way not only to clean up the environment around you, but also to build ever-closer ties with your fellow human beings and work hand in hand to unite society.” emphasizes Artūrs Toms Plešs, Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development.
“From the very beginning of the Big Cleanup, Rimi has been the general sponsor of the cleanup, since we are united by common values. We are the leaders of the Green Course in the Baltics, but we believe in the power of small steps, so every day we introduce things that bring us closer to our common goal – a cleaner and greener Latvia. For several years now, Rimi stores have been designed with sustainability in mind. Our stores have environmentally friendly lighting, environmentally friendly refrigerators, and we use 100% renewable energy resources in our stores. The latest solution in the context of climate neutrality, since the end of last year, we have been offering electronic checks to our customers, because it is necessary to maintain a clean environment every day. Electronic checks have so far prevented the printing of around 8.5 million conventional paper checks, equivalent to 7 tonnes of paper saved! We urge everyone to take part in the cleanup and receive their bag in our stores starting from April 23!” encourages Juris Šleiers, Head of Public Relations at AS “Rimi Latvija”.
In the discussion on public involvement in mitigating climate change, Līga Abizāre, Head of Environmental Education at AS “Latvijas valsts meži” (Latvia’s State Forests), emphasized that public education begins with school-age children who are taught how to take care of nature, for example by planting trees. In turn, Gints Kaminskis, Chairman of the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, encouraged to pass on a clean and tidy environment, which will be a lasting value, but Aira Priedīte, a representative from the European Latvian Association, reminded how important it is to encourage everyone individually to get involved in creating a greener environment. At the end of the discussion, Mārtiņš Rozentāls, Corporate Sales Director at AAS “BALTA”, emphasized that the Green Course is also an integral part of successful development for companies today.
Vita Jaunzeme, the Manager of the Big Cleanup: “Over the last fourteen years, since the beginning of The Big Cleanup in Latvia, our residents and volunteers have done a great and valuable job – since 2008, the amount of waste that ends up in nature has been halved. But we must not stop there. In recent years, we have been placing increasing emphasis not only on waste collection, but also on landscaping and environmental recovery. We will certainly continue our mission to educate the public, because only by raising awareness of pollution in general and its consequences can we become greener and more environmentally friendly. I believe that we will succeed, and over time we will learn to do as little damage as possible to our planet, our nature, so that it empowers future generations as well.”
We remind you that it is now possible for volunteers to register their place on the cleanup or landscaping on The Big Cleanup’s website www.talkas.lv. You can find two interactive maps of The Big Cleanup on the website, where you can apply your landscaping or waste collection cleanup:
- “The Big Cleanup’22 map”: here we ask the volunteers to apply one of three types of cleanups – waste collection cleanups, landscaping cleanups or both waste collection and landscaping cleanups: https://talkas.lv/liela-talka/pieteikt-talku/;
- “Solo Cleanup’22 map”: we ask those who want to spend time in nature and participate in the cleanup alone, to apply with a partner or their family to clean up their surroundings. It is an opportunity for individual volunteers to join the huge group of Latvian volunteers to participate in the spring-clean together: https://talkas.lv/liela-talka/solo-talkas/ (waste collected by SOLO volunteers should be delivered to the official cleanup points found on the common Big Cleanup’s map);
It will be possible to pick up your SOLO (including DUO and Family) bin bag in Rimi stores across all of Latvia from April 23 to April 30, by making a purchase for any amount. One check is equivalent to one bag. However, if the volunteers want to participate in a public cleanup, it is necessary to contact their cleanup coordinator. The list of coordinators is available at: https://talkas.lv/kontakti/.
About the Big Cleanup: The Big Cleanup is a non-governmental movement in Latvia that since 2008 has not only been organising cleanups and landscaping events throughout the country, but has also implemented various projects to educate the public on environmental issues. The President of Latvia is the patron of the Big Cleanup, making Latvia one of the first countries in the world to have such a high level of state support for environmental activities. In August 2019, the patronage was taken over by the President of Latvia, Egils Levits.
Get up, get ready, get involved! See you at the Big Cleanup on 30 April all over Latvia!
Video from the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUMBduIVmZE&t=503s
Photo: Ilmārs Znotiņš, office of the president