World Cleanup Day : interview of François Prouteau

David: François, you've come to talk to us about World Cleanup Day, last Saturday.


François Prouteau: Yes, at the same time as the European Heritage Days. It is providential: the first of our common heritage is the Earth, which we inherit in each generation as servants and guardians of life.


D: How did the idea for this World Cleanup Day come about?


F: In 2008, Rainer Nõlvak from Estonia came up with the idea of mobilizing his fellow citizens to rid his country of the 10,000 tons of waste illegally dumped in illegal landfills. Ten years later, this weekend, a "green wave" went around the world: hundreds of millions of people collected litter together for 24 hours! 


D: But a single day, faced with the extent of the pollution, isn't it just like a drop in the ocean?


F: Large-scale medium- and long-term solutions are emerging, combining economic and environmental concerns. I was able to see this at the Zermatt Summit in Switzerland last week. But today we are in a hurry. That is why we can be pleased with the good results of the World Clean-up Day last weekend. In addition, an event such as this is intended to help people think about how to produce better, consume better and throw away less. It depends on each of us. Everyone, like Rainer Nolvak or the young Swedish girl Greta Tunberg ... but not necessarily with the same popularity. To each his role! As Greta points out, "many people say that what we do doesn't matter, but I've learned that you're never too small to make a difference.


D: Do you mean that we are all called to be actors of change on a daily basis?


F: Yes. And a lot of initiatives of all kinds germinate every day, here and elsewhere. For example, I just met Ferdinand, a friend of Fondacio from Togo. He told me that he and his compatriots regularly organise Ecojogging events in a district of the capital, Lomé. While jogging together, participants large and small collect rubbish. In one day, in a good mood, they collect more than 20 kg of plastic waste which is recycled. It's within everyone's reach.


D: Are there actors of change among the poor?


F: Yes, in all social backgrounds and countries. In my travels, I notice a strong mobilization of very underprivileged people who are often the first victims. There is a challenge to recycle as close as possible to the populations, whoever they may be.

I'm thinking of the case of Cécile Favreau, a young French volunteer who went to Chile with Fondacio. She has just launched the Reciclo project in a whole district of Santiago which includes a large shantytown next to a business district. The city's statistics say that 50% of the waste is ORGANIC COMPOSTABLE.

One family produces  40 litres of waste per month, the equivalent of a large bag of compost. With compost specialists, the goal is to create more than one hectare of compost, with 1500 families. A whole virtuous ecosystem, with jobs at the key, is being set up in this shantytown. We need to think and promote solutions that combine ecology, economy and social issues! "

José Adolfo, a 15-year-old Peruvian boy who is one of the heroes of the documentary "Tomorrow is Ours", released in theatres on 25 September, highlights this in his own way. He has created an ecological bank with 3600 members between the ages of 6 and 29. To subscribe? Collect 5 kilos of recyclable waste and then at least one kilo per month .     Young people are changing the world.
 

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