TrashTour – A mission possible!

TrashTour project aims to motivate people, inspire them to change, and create a garbage-free society. In a country as trashy as Macedonia, this is something urgently needed. And these young people made history; 6 days, 6 cities, 6 cleanups!

TrashTour is a project that started to form in the thoughts of a friend group who is going together for hiking, nature adventures, and road trips while camping under the stars. What united the group as well is that they are working together with an Eco-movement Za Pochista Makedonija (For cleaner Macedonia). They are constantly going towards raising awareness about the problem of trashing in the country and inspiring a change in people’s behaviors by doing cleaning actions in Skopje.

“TrashTour started as an idea to spread our movement across the whole country.” Selina explains. “Therefore, it was a natural idea to combine the love for exploring the country to actually taking care of it and cleaning garbage from nature.”

The team started to write the project in spring. It was the first time they did something more “serious” and “big” together, apart from usual cleanups in Skopje. “Once we got accepted, we realized the amount of dedication the project will require, but we were super excited to start” the whole team agrees.

As summer moved forward, the concept and plan for the tour started to form. Creating a logo and promotional materials, having weekly meetings, planning the local cleanups in Skopje, and the upcoming tour. Crazy period for young people who have other obligations besides their passion for eco-activism.

When the calendar showed 24th of August, it was time to pack up and start the engines. Kicevo was the first city on tour, and it surprised the whole team with a huge amount of trash on the cleanup spot, and later with the enormous participation from the citizens. At the end of the day, 50 people left the place with 106 bags of trash cleaner. “It’s pretty amazing to see how we are united in the other cities too”, Selina smiles, “We don’t know each other, and then we just get together to clean some trash.”

The tour continued to Ohrid, where they collected 60 bags near the beach. In Prilep, after finding the original spot too clean (nice for a change), they managed to find a place filled with construction waste and collected 57 bags, among other huge objects. The road continued to Kavadarci, where the area around the lake was 36 bags cleaner after few hours. Strumica was the quietest cleanup when in the middle of the city, only a woman with a young daughter joined and helped to gather 30 bags. Stip, in the end, finished the tour with the biggest amount, 150 bags alongside couches, TV, and car parts…

What was making the team motivated to continue was that there were people from young children to the elderly in the cleanups. “I’m honestly pretty surprised that how motivated everybody that showed up really was. Everybody was a star player” Emil says and explains how every volunteer was always ready to help out.

As much as the team was amazed by the outcome of the project and the response of the people, they faced disappointing moments with the participants “We were throughout Macedonia, picking up so much trash, filling up huge bags like 106 on the first day and people said to us “This much trash, will be on the same place again in like two days.”, Emil continues,” It’s really sad to see the people so empty and drained from their motivation.”

As much noise the cleaning actions are creating, the sad truth is that those places need to be cleaned again. The team agrees it takes time to change but explained how important it is that someone is doing it “There has to be always someone who is fighting against it [trashing]. If there’s no one fighting, it’s gonna be even worse. The point is not just to clean.” Marko explains,” The point is to expand the movement until one day the people that care and the people that want to clean become the majority.”

At the end of the day, TrashTour left the team from Za Pochista Makedonija motivated to continue and raised participation in Eco-activism in other cities. Even though the project itself is over, the team will not rest. As long as there is garbage, there is a need for actions like this. 

“Anyone can be part of the movement. It’s simple, you just don’t ignore the trash around you, don’t let it become normal. You see some trash, why not pick it up; make the place cleaner. Be an example for the others” – Marko

Selina Niemi

Overall: 161 people collected 439 bags of trash

TrashTour was documented, and the after movie can soon be found from the social media channels of Za Pochista Makedonija. The project was created with the support of Volunteers Centre Skopje and funded by Foundation Open Society Macedonia (more information on their website http://www.zapochistamakedonija.mk).

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