World Cleanup 2012, a civic cleanup project that began in Estonia four years ago, has attracted millions of participants from 96 countries in the past half-year.
In 2008, 50,000 people picked up rubbish in Estonia – some 4 percent of the population – but the al-time record was set this year in Slovenia, where 265,000 people (13.5 percent) pitched in.
The total from Sweden was 670,000. Bulgaria attracted as many as 320,000 volunteers and came in second after Sweden in terms of absolute number of participants, according to a Let's Do It Estonia presentation. Finland saw turnout of 300,000.
Organizer Rainer Nõlvak said Asia was the most difficult area to get the initiative going, because of local level corruption. “If one faces a situation where it's cheaper to bribe officials to say there is no garbage, then there is a fundamental problem,” said Nõlvak. The World Cleanup team in Asia deals more with politics and negotiations, rather than organizing people to clean up the countries.
Nõlvak said five percent of the world's population is required to participate in order to change mentalities and create a network of people, unified in their goal of keeping the community clean.
The event tries to up the participants in 2013 and has another initiative set up, to clean up the Mediterranean Sea with the help of 22 countries.