Coming clean launched a competition with prizes!


Besides people helping us cleanup TGI-Fridays also offered The Big Cleanup a dinner for six. GREAT! And since the board of The Big Cleanup only has two members, we have exactly 4 places to spare! With whom would we love to have dinner? With you of course, are most loyal supporters!

That’s why we have launched a competition to win this white-hot prize. Maybe you think you are without a chance, but nothing is less true. We have 28 followers on Twitter of which 2 cleaning companies who presumably follow us for other reasons. On Instagram it is better (100+ followers), but there is still a world to win. The posts on LinkedIn receive an average of more than 200 views. And then we have this blog that is well attended, but isn’t an internet hit yet. All numbers are going up steadily, one more steadily than others, but we’ve been on this journey for just a few months.

In short: help us to become better known and -in the end- help us clean up more litter. Follow us, retweet us, send photos or reports of what you have cleaned, write a guest blog (good for many bonus points): be creative. In a month time, under the watchful eye of notary W.A. van Rhijn, we’ll announce the winners. They are going to experience an unforgettable evening at TGI-Fridays with us on a date yet to be agreed!

Hella finds … visibility is important!

Is it worth cleaning up the in the neighborhood?

Except for the missions I gave Sandra for her birthday (check the blog The First Step), there are also other moments where we are actively cleaning up litter. Just because the frustration is great when we walk somewhere and see so much junk. And also because of the the satisfaction afterwards!
Sometimes we deliberately make a detour in the neighborhood, armed with garbage bags, gloves and grabbers. We live in a decent, mixed neighborhood: some 70s low-rise and 30 single-family homes. There are some schools, more and more trendy coffeeshops and dining places, and a small park. The park near our house is quite a nice park with a playground, rose garden, football field and even a tabletennis table.

3 zakken zwerfvuil in 1 uur
The only thing that is left is to throw away these 3 bags!

Recently we picked up litter in the park for an hour and came home with 2 full trash bags and 1 found (!) empty shopping bag that we effortlessly also filled with junk.
So … if you measure the cleanliness of the neighborhood to the amount of picked up litter (the beer cans, the cigarette butts, the paper tissues, drinks and so on), then suddenly  I’m not so convinced that I’m living in a decent neighborhood.

What does science say?

I somewhat suspected that a clean environment encourages people to keep the environment clean, but does it really help? Is that really really scientifically proven?
Yes it helps; environmental psychologist Kees Keizer (University of Groningen) proved this in various experiments. More on his research here, below two of his findings.

  1. A clean environment not only makes people less inclined to throw litter on the street, it also positively impacts the influence of other norms and rules on behaviour. Experiments show that the presence of litter (disorder) increases the chance that others throw their litter in the streets as well, and decreases the helpfulness of people and kindness to others. Besides the positive effect of cleaning the street in general, it is proven that the visible act of cleaning up has an extra positive effect on the behaviour of citizens.

  2. What is true for disorder is also true for order:  observing someone who clearly respects a norm encourages to other norm-conforming behaviour. It turned out that the amount of people who helped someone who had dropped their shopping nearly doubled if the have seen someone clean the pavement just before.

Is the park lastingly cleaner?

That is too early to say. The mothers on the playground have so far been friendly but say or do nothing at that moment (but maybe I planted a seed in their minds?). Promising was a boy who came to ask what I was doing. He nodded in understanding on my answer that I clean it up because that junk does not belong there. Next time I will invite him on the spot to pick up some (remember to bring extra gloves!). And Sandra met a woman who took  the trouble to say that she liked what we are doing and even offered to help next time.

Time will tell if there is indeed less litter left behind in the park. But we will continue to be strengthened by science! The research of Kees Keizer learned me that when people see you clean up, chances are that they will start doing it themselves as well. And not only that, they become more helpful anyway. So, cleaning up litter is not only a super thing to do for the environment but also drive a more kind and more social environment. Who can argue with that?!

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Coming clean: looking for tips!

img_0209Since my birthday there have been three official missions but between these we have not been idle. We (read: Hella) have spent hours in getting an understanding of the WordPress world. With good results, because we now have all kinds of fancy features on this site including an English version! Google translate has been able to translate all blogs with Hella’s expert help so now we can have our global breakthrough. Furthermore, a Twitter account has become available recently: @plasticcleanup (the twitter account @degroteschoomaak was already given to a certain Mister Muscle). Even on LinkedIn we have some traffic going on with our blog.

As we become more and more immersed in the plastic waste issue, we noticed that we are not alone. There are already many people who clean up litter, even in our own environment. And I really believe that it works as an environmentally-friendly oil spill: more and more people are joining various cleaning up projects.

Once you have an eye for it, you can’t not see it anymore. Double denials are always difficult, but even I understand this one. Since we started collecting, I see plastic and other waste everywhere. Sometimes it leaves me with a practical challenge. For instance, if I go shopping and I see all sorts of junk lying on the street, I prefer not to dirty my hands. And if I start picking up trash, then it usually does not stop with 1 piece. And not even with 2, so the following problem arises: where do you keep it? Preferably not in the shopping bag. So far the solution was: look for a plastic bag, because where there is waste, you usually also find plastic bags. However, I am very curious how other litterpickers  solve this.
I saw Peter Smith (Stichting Klean), while riding his bike, smoothly grab waste with his waste grabber and elegantly throwing it into his bicycle basket. If you can pick up even cigarette butts so easily and with so much precision, you probably got a lot of watches out of the claw machine. As of yet, this is still far out of reach for us. Therefore we are welcoming tips to deal with this challenge!

Saturday 18 Feruary we will go trash beachcombing again! With a burlap sack.

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Hella finds …plastic waste photo art

The moment I started looking into what is being done worldwide to bring up the plastic soup issue, I came across a lot of wretched, horrifying examples of roaming plastic on the beach, in the water, in forests, in the streets and in the …. well everywhere actually.

Fortunately, there are many inspiring people with great ideas and actions that want to bring this plastic misery to our attention. Really, there are many! In all sizes and types. I find it incredible and incredibly moving to see young children stand up as activists, such as the nearly 10-year-old Dutch Lilly and 7- year-old ‘The Little Collector‘. In the near future, I  am definitely spending a whole blog on these amazing young activists.

Horror and aesthetics

The ‘misery-beauty’ combination was best expressed for me in a number of photography projects. Aesthetically beautiful photos, which on closer inspection are also pretty depressing. And then become a motivation for you to start to do at least SOMETHING about the misery yourself. I think that this plastic waste art is a great driver for awareness and change.

  1. Found in Nature, by Barry Rosenthal
    Barry collects litter around the New York Harbor area, and arranges the objects by color, type and/or theme. In the 5 minute video below you see how and why he does that.
  2. Plastic Ocean, by Thirza Schaap
    Thirza makes photos of plastic on a pastel-colored background. In an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (30-9-2017) she said: “I show the beauty of something terribly sad, those beautiful colors of the plastic. Because all the beautiful creatures in the sea are in our mess.”
  3. Where, by Mandy Barker
    The remnants of looted balloons simply return to earth and into the sea. Mandy collected many pieces of balloons on beaches around the world. Her motivation? Watch the video in which she tells about the project Hong Kong Soup.
  4. Washed up, van Alejandro Durán
    Alejandro photographs the plastic waste as an integration in nature, as a forest, as rivers or fruit. He did so in the Mexican nature reserve Sian Ka’an.

I’m curious what you think (of this)! Please let us know in the comments if you too found beautiful plastic waste art.

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Hella finds … a tip!

Supporter van Schoon materialen

What and why?

Never shy to speak my mind and always searching for new things. This year I will be blogging for The Big Cleanup, about my findings on plastic waste, separate waste, people who pick up trash or leave trash, great ideas to make the world a cleaner place, and more!


Last December I found out how easy it is to organise a cleanup action in your own neighbourhood.

  • Go to Supporter van Schoon and create an event
  • With the confirmation of the event you get an action code that will give you 1 free basic package. It hold some pretty neat gloves, garbage bags and PR materials!
  • Find some help: ask your neighbours, your friends and your family to help you. Go to the Mission 2 report on this site to see where that can lead to.

Supporter van Schoon materialen

Do you find this appealing?

Let me know, go for it! I’d love to hear your experiences.

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Wat vindt Hella? Plastic waste fotokunst

Zodra ik me ging verdiepen in wat er wereldwijd allemaal gedaan wordt om de plastic soup onder de aandacht te brengen, kwam ik een hoop ellendige, afschuwwekkende voorbeelden tegen van zwervend plastic op het strand, in het water, in bossen, op straat en … overal eigenlijk.
Maar! Gelukkig ook heel veel inspirerende mensen met mooie ideeën en acties die precies die ellende onder de aandacht willen brengen. En het zijn er veel! In alle maten en soorten, ongelooflijk en ontroerend ook om jonge kinderen zich te zien roeren als activisten, zoals de bijna 10-jarige Nederlandse Lilly en de 7-jarige ‘The Little Collector‘. Aan deze geweldige, jonge activisten besteed ik graag een andere keer een hele blog.

Afschuw en esthetiek

De combinatie ellende-mooi kwam voor mij het best tot uiting in een aantal fotografie-projecten. De esthetisch prachtige foto’s, die bij nader inzien toch ook behoorlijk sip makend zijn. En je dan gelukkig toch juist motiveren om zelf ook in elk geval IETS te doen aan de ellende.  Dat vind ik dan toch weer fantastisch, aan die plastic waste kunst.

Wat vond ik zoal?

  1. Found in Nature, van Barry Rosenthal
    Barry verzamelt troep rondom het New York Harbour gebied, en rangschikt de objecten op kleur, soort en/of thema. In de 5 minuten video hieronder zie je hoe en waarom hij dat doet.
  2. Plastic Ocean, door Thirza Schaap
    Thirza maakt foto’s van plastic op een pastelkleurige achtergrond. In een interview met de Volkskrant (30-9-2017) zei ze zelf: “Ik toon de schoonheid van iets verschrikkelijk verdrietigs, die prachtige kleuren van het plastic. Want alle mooie wezens in de zee happen wel in onze rommel.”
  3. Where, van Mandy Barker
    De restanten van opgelaten ballonnen komen gewoon weer terug op aarde en in de zee. Mandy verzamelde vele stukjes ballonnen op stranden over de hele wereld. Haar motivatie? Bekijk de video waarin zij vertelt over het project Hong Kong Soup.
  4. Washed up, van Alejandro Durán
    Alejandro fotografeert het gevonden plastic als een integratie in de natuur, als een bos, rivieren, fruit etc. Hij deed dat in het Mexicaanse natuurgebied Sian Ka’an.

Ik ben benieuwd wat jullie (hiervan) vinden! En vond jij ook mooie plastic waste kunst, laat het dan weten in de comments.