Being confronted with the streets littered with rubbish, the association everyday.earth and Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur decided to act together by organizing a clean-up. A day of collective cleaning to combine ecology and citizenship.
Protective gloves and trash bags in hand, they walked the streets of Nice for more than 3 hours. Ecologists at heart and committed citizens, this small group of thirty volunteers has chosen to devote a Saturday scouring the sidewalk rather than sunbathing on the Promenade des Anglais. A real trash hunt, becoming almost a game for some regulars. “We find everything and anything” says Thierry Debrun, a keynote listener of the association everyday.earth.
“On the beach, there is a lot of broken glass and small plastic debris, like spoons for ice cream, but it also happens that we come across amazing objects. This morning, for example, we found a bottle of oxygen and cotton swabs.” For him, this daily pollution comes first and foremost from people’s behaviour.
“Garbage cans and containers exist, there are even services dedicated to clean. Everything is set up so that the city remains clean, but the major problem is the incivism of people” regrets the plogger. A vision shared by Pierre-Paul Leonelli, Deputy mayor of Nice and chairman of the cleanliness-collection committee, who came to support the event. “This incivism is not a situation that must continue” he explained. “It’s not a situation or set of circumstances. It is a plague that must be fought against, we must be armed if we want to turn it around.”
An activity for everyone
Without age, nor ruling anyone out, the clean-up concerns all of us. Young people, the elderly and toddlers, everyone is invited to participate. Wim Kiezenberg also founded everyday.earth in this idea of gathering. “Alone, we can not do anything, but if each person even makes a minor change in their everyday habits, then that can make all the difference. The sum of all these small actions can bring the solution to this climate crisis.”
This Saturday, several parents came with their children to do this activity, with this family. One way to instil in them ecological values through practice, not just theory. Mom of two children and keynote listener Jasmine Pataà tries to teach them to take good care of the environment.
“They are still small, but they already understand it well. The other day, I took my 4-year-old son to a clean-up and he really went along with it. Of course, after a while, he preferred to play, but at first, he picked up the trash with me.” Jasmine Pataà will carry out awareness campaigns in schools in the near future. An important step to educate the actors of tomorrow and ensure the future of the planet.
Ecological and sportive challenge
At the end of the afternoon, volunteers start to get tired. Stooping every two minutes to catch goblets, tissues and papers is not easy. The muscles of the thighs begin to burn. Some stretch, others drink water.
The atmosphere is friendly and cheerful. Each one tries to guess the total weight of the harvest of the day. The bets have been made! 25? 28? 30 kg?
The balance is finally expressed. 33.07 kg of trash. A nice result that includes 4kg or about 4000 cigarette filters.
Theos Mariani is impressed by the result. “Everything we picked up was very light, so to get to that weight, it took a lot of trash.” For this student, this day was a first clean up experience. A success that made him want to continue.
“I was already trying to do it before when I was hiking, but being in a group makes it possible to see a result at the end and that makes it even more motivating.” If a few hours after the passage of apprentice cleaners, the streets of Nice are again dirty, this clean-up festival will have served at least the goal to raise awareness and change attitudes.
3 questions to Wim Kiezenberg, founder of everyday.earth
Being from Amsterdam, do you find that there is a difference between France and the Netherlands in how to manage the environmental crisis?
“The methods and equipment used to combat global warming are the same. In terms of waste sorting or recycling, I find that France and the Netherlands act in a similar way. On the other hand, I believe that mentalities do differ.”
Do the Dutch pay more attention to the planet than the French?
“Yes, it’s part of our history and our culture. We take care of our houses, our gardens, our streets. I remember when I was young, my mother came out every week cleaning the sidewalk in front of our house. Nobody asked her to do that, but for her, it was something normal.”
Should France take an example of the Netherlands?
“No, not necessarily. Dutch may be more inclined to have cleaner habits, but that does not mean that we do not have problems. The Netherlands faces the same environmental issues as France. To make a real difference, associations, citizens, businesses and political actors must sit together and reflect on the current situation on a global scale. Only the collaboration of these four entities can open on a solution.”