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!

Coming clean: Sandra is angry, frustrated and disappointed but got it together again

img_0805Originally we wanted to reveal our cliffhanger from the previous blog today, in a festive manner. But because of the political debate on a deposit scheme in our Dutch Lower House om Thursday 15 March I felt a need to get something else off my chest.

I have always had a lot of confidence in the government and I scoffed people a bit when they criticized politicians. In our home, the angry citizen is often paraphrased with: “Yes, yes, from our taxes!” And then we laugh happily again.

But since last week I have been looking at politics differently.

We have been working on clearing litter for a little over three months now, trying to light others or at least making the problem more aware. I am amazed at my own drive to be busy with this. Every day I pick up something and at least once a week I fill a whole bag with junk from the neighborhood. I read a lot about it, with @plasticcleanup we’re active on social media and try to do something about the litter in a positive way.

But then, then Secretary of State Stientje van Veldhoven was on the news show Brandpunt and told us that until 2021 she will give the business community the chance  to reach the target of 70 – 90% less plastic bottles. If they don’t reach that target a deposit scheme will be set up. She would start the next Monday with legislation in case the business does not reach this target. ‘One way or another, we’ll make it happen’ was her repetitive mantra. Cans turned out to no longer matter in her proposal.
Thanks to the tweets from the Afvaladvocaat I learnt that the debat in the Lower House last Thursday more or less ended in this proposal. I have no words for the powerlessness and desperation that I feel because of this. Over 80% of the Dutch are in favour of a deposit scheme. A proven effective measure. Few proposals in politics can rely on so much support from the voters. Then why wait?

The Secretary of State also has no idea how the business will tackle this. In Brandpunt she was talking about some extra trash cans and a bit more sweeping. During the debate she also admitted that she had no idea but that she would certainly ask for a plan of approach. Unbelievable!

Suppose there was a desire to levy a higher tax on bonuses. And the responsible minister says: okay, excellent plan, really important that we are going to do this. But first let’s give them the chance to pay that extra tax. If that fails in three years, I will make sure that a law is in place to arrange it. A new cabinet can then see what they will do with it. You know what, I’m going to start Monday!

Despite this great frustration, I refuse to become an old nag.. I keep clearing litter with the thought that every little bit helps. But I understand very well that all those thousands and thousands of volunteer litterpickers are demotivated. Buck up people, if it does not happen that one way, or the other way, we just take the way straight towards our goal!

[back to list of English posts]

Coming clean: TGI Fridays

A couple of times a week I park my bike in the bicycle shed on the Westplein in Utrecht. A not so cozy square because of the many traffic but it is made more fun and greener with unrelenting enthusiasm by the people of  Paviljoen Pop.

An impression of the mess.

Last week I once again parked my bike and saw a tsunami of junk. It turned out to be an action of the fast food chain TGI-Fridays who wanted to recruit staff in this fun way for their soon to be opened restaurant on nearby Stationsplein.

Apparently there is little enthusiasm to work here and regular ways of recruiting staff (an advertisement or employment agency) do not yield anything. Or perhaps there is a completely different reason that is overlooked.

Probably, there has been a department that has devised to tackle it in this way. Perhaps it was preceded by brainstorming session, with yellow post-its and out of the box thinking.

TGI Fridays
Do you believe this is a winning action?

Anyway, the outcome was  that there is a label on all bicycles on the Westplein with this phrase : Do you believe in a dream job at first sight?

If they had thought about it a little bit longer, they might have come to the conclusion that about 100% of the bike owners do not need this label. And that there are only a few people who put it in their pocket to throw away at home. Practice shows that most people just throw it on the ground, especially if there are already a few hundred.

I tweeted a friendly request to TGI Fridays to clean up their mess. But no reaction. The day after, I returned from work a bit earlier and decided to pick up as many labels as possible.


There were 267. This time I have also tweeted about it, now with the question to TGI-Fridays to come with us to clean up some time in return. I also asked the municipality of Utrecht, per tweet, whether companies are allowed to distribute so much junk. It is still not entirely clear to me how it is, but apparently it was passed on to the licensing department.

Until now there is no reaction from TGI Fridays but you are the second person to hear when in their infinite wisdom they decide to come with us . I can recommend it anyway because it is super fun with us!

[back to list of English posts]

TGI Fridays has turned out to be a good sport: they reached out to DeGroteSchoonmaak the day after the second tweet and sincerely apoligized. Also, they have committed to have 2 employees help us cleanup for an afternoon. We are very happy about that and plan to do this very soon!

Mission 4: Trash beachcombing in Katwijk

The name of this blog suggests that Mission 4 is identical to Mission 1. There were indeed several similarities::

  • Location: Katwijk
  • Day: De dag: the day of the lord
  • Weather: fresh and sunny
  • Nature of the mission: trash beachcombing

But there were also important differences. First of all, it was more than a month later. As a result, we were able to conduct a comparative research. We walked about the same area and saw significantly less waste than last time!

This can have various causes:

  • A battalion of trash beachcombers had been ahead of us that morning
  • Or there has been (relatively) little waste fallen from human hands in the intervening period. And what is the cause of that? Maybe because on a clean beach there is less dumping ….

This time our party of beachcombers was different. We were accompanied by our super-enthusiastic ex-neighbor with her three equally enthusiastic children aged 6 and 8 and 8. They had been looking forward to collecting the waste all morning and they did not hide that! With a fanaticism that could put Olympic athletes toshame, the beach was combed from bottom to top and from left to right. Their enthusiasm almost ended into an argument about a piece of plastic at some point: “NO, THIS WAS MY WASTE, I WANT TO PUT IT IN THE BAG!”

A tiny little incident in an otherwise perfect afternoon: the images speak almost for themselves, and otherwise there is always the caption.


3 superheroes, 2 of them incognito


Summary of a splendid afternoon!


At first is said afal! (in Dutch something like trazh!) but fortunately this spelling error was remediated on time (now it says something like trasj).

[back to list of English posts]

Schone Zaken: TGI Fridays

Een aantal keer per week parkeer ik mijn fiets in de fietsenstalling op het Westplein in Utrecht. Een niet zo gezellig plein vanwege het vele verkeer maar het wordt met niet aflatend enthousiasme leuker en groener gemaakt door de mensen van Paviljoen Pop.

Een impressie van de troep.

Afgelopen week stalde ik weer eens mijn fiets en zag een tsunami aan troep. Het bleek een actie van de semi-fastfoodketen TGI-Fridays die op deze ludieke manier personeel wil werven voor hun binnenkort te openen restaurant op het nabijgelegen Stationsplein.

Blijkbaar is er weinig animo om hier te werken en leveren reguliere manieren van personeel werven (een advertentie of uitzendbureau) niets op. Of wellicht is er een heel andere reden die over het hoofd zie.

In elk geval is er een afdeling geweest die bedacht heeft om het op deze manier aan te pakken. Misschien is er nog een brainstormsessie aan vooraf gegaan met gele post-its en out of the box denken.

TGI Fridays
Geloof jij dat dit een goede actie is?

De uitkomst was in elk geval dat er aan alle fietsen op het Westplein een label is gehangen met de kromme zin: Geloof jij in een droombaan op het eerste gezicht?

Als ze ietsiepietsie langer hadden nagedacht waren ze misschien tot de conclusie gekomen dat ongeveer 100% van de fietseigenaren geen behoefte heeft aan dit label. En dat er maar een paar mensen zijn die het braaf in hun zak steken om thuis weg te gooien. De praktijk leert dat de meeste mensen het gewoon op de grond gooien, zeker als er al een paar honderd liggen.

Ik wijdde er een tweet aan met het vriendelijke verzoek aan TGI Fridays om de troep op te ruimen. Maar geen reactie. De dag erop was ik wat eerder terug van werk en besloot zo veel mogelijk labels op te rapen.


Het  waren er 267. Ook dit keer heb ik erover getwitterd, ditmaal met de vraag aan TGI-Fridays om in ruil hiervoor een keer met ons mee te gaan om zwerfafval te ruimen. Ook de gemeente Utrecht heb ik per tweet gevraagd of bedrijven zo veel troep mogen verspreiden. Het is me nog niet helemaal duidelijk hoe het zit maar blijkbaar is het doorgegeven aan de afdeling vergunningen.

Vooralsnog is er geen reactie van TGI Fridays maar u bent de tweede die het hoort als ze in oneindige wijsheid besluiten om met ons mee te gaan. Ik kan het sowieso iedereen aanraden want het is supergezellig met ons!

Laatste nieuws: TGI-Fridays heeft de handschoen opgepakt en gaat een keer met ons mee zwerfafval rapen! Zie hier hun reactie. En de onze 😉

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.

[back to list of English posts]

Schone zaken: tips gezocht!

img_0209Sinds mijn verjaardag zijn er drie officiële missies geweest maar ondertussen hebben we natuurlijk niet stilgezeten. We (lees: Hella) heeft zich urenlang bekwaamd in het doorgronden van de WordPresswereld. Met resultaat, want we hebben nu allerlei fancy features op deze site waaronder een heuse Engelse versie! Google translate heeft met de deskundige hulp van Hella alle blogs kunnen vertalen zodat we nu ook global kunnen doorbreken. Verder is er sinds kort een Twitter-account: @plasticcleanup (het account degroteschoonmaak was al weggegeven aan de huishoudservice van Miep Kraak). En ook op LinkedIn is er al een hoop reuring.

Nu we ons meer en meer verdiepen in het plastic afval, valt ons op dat we niet alleen zijn. Er zijn, ook in onze eigen omgeving, al veel mensen die zwerfafval ruimen. En ik geloof echt dat het als een milieuvriendelijke olievlek werkt: er sluiten zich steeds meer mensen aan bij allerlei schoonmaakprojecten.

Als je er eenmaal oog voor hebt, kan je het niet meer niet zien. Dubbele ontkenningen zijn altijd lastig maar deze begrijp ik zelfs. Sinds we zijn begonnen met rapen zie ik overal plastic en ander afval. Dat geeft soms ook een praktisch probleem. Want als ik net boodschappen ga doen en ik zie allerhande troep op straat liggen, wil ik liever geen vieze handen. En als ik dan toch begin met rapen, dan blijft het meestal niet bij 1 stuk. En ook niet bij 2, dus dan dient zich het volgende probleem aan: waar laat je het? Bij voorkeur niet in de boodschappentas. Tot nu toe was de oplossing: op zoek gaan naar een plastic zak, want waar afval is, vind je meestal ook wel plastic zakken. Maar ik ben heel benieuwd hoe andere zwerfafvalrapers dit oplossen. Ik zag dat Peter Smith van de Stichting Klean jaloersmakend soepeltjes met zijn grijper het afval in zijn fietsmandje gooit. Iemand die met zo veel precisie en gemak zelfs peuken oppikt, heeft vroeger waarschijnlijk een hoop horloges uit de grijpmachine gehaald. Maar voor ons is deze manier voorlopig nog buiten bereik. We houden ons dus aanbevolen voor goeie tips!

Zaterdag 18 februari gaan we weer grondstofjutten op het strand! Met een juten tas.