Saturday is World Clean Up Day and worldwide attention is paid to the ever-increasing problem of litter. Subway spoke to people for whom waste is a common thread through life. Episode 2: student Kiki Schollaardt. Her passion for a sustainable world goes much further than just the fight against litter.
On World Clean Up Day, worldwide (180 countries) will roll up their sleeves on Saturday for a major cleaning up for our planet. In the Netherlands alone, almost 1500 places have already been registered for a major clean-up campaign. Yesterday morning the counter was still 16,199 participants, 24 hours later there are already 34,905. No time, but are you open to tips (from Kiki)? You can find it at the bottom of the article.
Kiki Schollaardt (23) from Leiden cannot be there on Saturday, but has a (very) warm heart for World Clean Up Day. She goes through life with the motto sustainability for people and our planet and that applies to Kiki 365 days a year. For the student of Future Planet Studies (University of Amsterdam, minor Gender and Sexuality) it is about more than litter, however important she considers the approach to it. For her, it’s about standing up for social justice for all people as well as protecting the planet from the climate crisis. Taken together, she calls this “intersectional environmentalism,” a way of exposing that injustices against minority groups and the Earth are strongly linked. Kiki speaks out on her Instagram account, takes to the streets when necessary and likes to discuss sustainability with others. Similarly with Subway.
Having a goal together: less litter
It is tropical Prinsjesdag when she sits on a bench in the Huigpark in Leiden. “I haven’t been to the Amsterdam campus yet this year, because the lectures are still online.” She misses contact because she is following her minor with students from all over the world. “They come from California to Thailand, which is why it is an extra pity that we cannot make good contact with studying online. The feeling of togetherness is less. That is so much fun about World Clean Up Day that you have the same goal together: to make the world a bit cleaner in one day. ”
At first glance, the park looks neat and tidy. Then Kiki points to the ground in front of the bench. Clear: more than ten cigarette filters within a square meter. “So those filters contain plastic, right?” Sometimes she holds a spontaneous clean-up on the beach herself, but she has not yet participated in World Clean Up Day. “I really like the idea of this promotion, but for me it is not about one day. I am working on it every day. Because of my studies and my interest in sustainability. I just really don’t pick up rubbish from the street every day … unless it’s right in front of my feet. ” Litter bothers her. “Sure. Especially so close to the water, then you are almost certain that it will end up in the ocean. ”
Here you see Kiki during a clean-up, in the week that the corona virus was supposed to rule life:
You cannot impose sustainability on everyone
“Who knows, I might be there at the next World Clean Up Day,” says Kiki. “I enjoy getting to know people who are also working on it. However, if we really want to make a difference in the climate crisis we are in, then – in addition to this great initiative – we must make great strides. I do think that if you are involved in sustainability like me, you should recognize the privileges you have and understand that we cannot ask the same from everyone. I have the opportunity to buy loose pieces of bread, fruit and vegetables in the supermarket in cotton bags I brought with me instead of plastic and I have the privilege of having the time and money for this. But not everyone has the opportunity, money or time to think about sustainable options and implement them in their lifestyle. So you can’t just impose sustainability on everyone. If you have the privilege of doing it, then it would do well to not only work on sustainability at home, but also take it to work and integrate it into the company where you work. Because it is precisely there that major steps can be taken towards a more sustainable world. ”
More than just cleaning up litter
World Clean Up Day is a collaboration between the Plastic Soup Foundation and Nederland Schoon. In addition to the day cleaning up litter, there is a second goal after Saturday. Provide insight into what has been found in nature and on the street (participants can enter the information in an app) and use that knowledge to find structural solutions. Kiki thinks that’s a good thing: “It’s about solutions. My studies trained me to think in terms of solutions and often there are already many solutions to problems. Only “getting through” in the politics of these solutions remains the biggest stumbling block. I was happy to see that the Netherlands will abolish disposable plastic next year, steps like that are really badly needed. ” She points to the cigarette filters again: “Many people do not know that they contain microplastics and throw them on the street. But those filters break down and end up as microplastics in our water, the soil and even the air we breathe. It pollutes enormously. All the plastic that has ever been made will still exist in a thousand years, although it will probably be in the form of microplastics. ”
Kiki is so much involved with sustainability and topics that she finds important that you can wonder if it is not too busy in her head now and then. She smiles. “The latter certainly. I sometimes realize that I cannot solve everything on my own and then I wonder what to do. I once had that I just didn’t feel like it anymore. But that it can become too much for you, seems normal to me in such a crisis. In general I try to stay positive, I like to talk and share sustainable facts and insights on Instagram. Then I notice that people just don’t know many things. Just this morning, for example, a roommate started talking about putting up a Christmas tree this year. Then I can explain with a friend that this is not sustainable at all. Growing them involves a lot of pesticides and pollutes the soil. Moreover, it takes about ten years to grow a Christmas tree, then you cut it down and you only have a few weeks to enjoy it. After that, the tree is often burned, which is also bad for the environment. ”
Mass production and demand for stuff
Kiki’s drive for a sustainable world started in high school. She was once a meat lover, now she eats vegan. “I made a profile paper about how the eating habits of the Dutch have changed between 1945 and now. For me it went from no meat to no fish in small steps and then I decided that I also no longer wanted to eat other animal products. I made the paper because I did not understand why we had started eating what we are now eating, especially in view of the increased amount of meat. I then found out that not only had there been much greater meat production after World War II, but mass production in general. For example, petroleum plastics existed in my opinion as early as the 1920s, but it was not produced on a large scale until after World War II. That mass production, the economic growth in the 60s and with it people’s demand for things, has grown into the hardcore capitalism we know today. That’s where it went wrong. ”
Get litter out of the world?
Fortunately, Kiki sees good things around her. “That does not mean that I am not worried, we have major problems. World Clean Up Day is one day. It is very good that an investigation is started with the results. But the problem of getting litter out of the world in my lifetime, no, unfortunately that’s not going to happen. I would like to say something more positive, but it won’t be. All the plastic we have ever produced will still be there in a thousand years, so the waste problem remains a challenge for now. What you can do now is produce a lot less plastic. Look, in the hospital plastics are used to keep people alive, with that plastic lives are saved. But we don’t need single-use plastic bottles and all those plastic toys et cetera at home. There are alternatives to that. We are only used to using certain things, it is laziness. We have to get rid of the fact that people find change scary. It’s time.”
Litter is one of the biggest problems
Is litter and plastic the biggest problem of all for Kiki in particular? She thinks for a moment. “Yes, I think so. So disposable plastic, which ends up in the landfill every day, is particularly worrying. But food waste and thus food waste is also a very big problem. If we could solve the food waste problem in the right way, for example, there would in fact be enough food for everyone. Oh, and batteries, chemicals, smartphones and computers that you can no longer use… actually all the waste we produce is just a problem. ”
Curious which brands were found the most during World Cleanup Day last year? Or which specific items? You can see it in this infographic. 📊 Will you also clean up litter on the 19th? Register your “catch” with the Litterati app. Read more here 👉 https://t.co/ah5FEObQVK pic.twitter.com/KRnmfT93m6
– Plastic Soup Foundation (@plasticsoupfoun) September 15, 2020
Anyone who sees the drive of Kiki’s young generation may be hopeful. They often take to the streets with banners to draw attention to the environment, just to name a few. Kiki thinks that is a nice fact, but also has a big question mark: “It is, as it were, forced upon us. It’s not that we have a choice, because it’s now or never. Soon it will be too late and we will never again have a good liveable world for future generations. ” She thinks that there are all world leaders of 70 years old in that respect. “Exactly, we have to do it, but in the meantime we have no say. What bothers me most is when older generations say: It’s about your future, you have to do it. Then I think: why does my generation have to solve the problems you created? You still live on this earth, don’t you? Can’t you still do what you can to make this world a little better? ”
Let’s say, starting Saturday on World Clean Up Day. Here you can see last year’s aftermovie:
Sustainable tips from Kiki
If after Saturday you think “I want to live a more sustainable life” … Kiki has some simple tips for that.
• “If you have a bank account, switch to a sustainable bank that is sure they won’t invest in really bad things that are destroying the planet. That gives a nice feeling. There are two sustainable banks in the Netherlands, ASN and Triodos. ”
• “Always use such a reusable bottle, a bottle that you can reuse.”
• “Take cotton bags to the supermarket for bread, vegetables and fruit and a reusable bag for all groceries.”
• “Avoid beauty products with plastics. Think of a shampoo and conditioner bar without packaging. I also have a bamboo toothbrush myself. ”
• “Use an EcoEgg or wax peels instead of detergent (which is usually wrapped in plastic).”
• “Use the menstrual cup or menstrual underwear instead of tampons or pads.”
Ten times the “R”
And then there are, Kiki tips, the ten ‘R’s of waste reduction“, A ten-point guide to reducing waste. It is important to realize that recycling stuff is also not the most sustainable option. Many more steps can be taken to extend the life of a product before it needs to be recycled.
• Refuse: refuse / prevent use
• Reduce: reduce use
• Redesign: circular redesign
• Re-use: reuse product (2nd hand)
• Repair: maintenance and repair
• Refurbish: refurbish product
• Remanufacture: making a new product from something second hand
• Re-purpose: reusing a product for a different purpose
• Recycle: processing and reuse of materials
• Recover: energy recovery
Environment Central has a lot of information about this on the website of the organization.
Also read episode 1 of this series: The Waste Butlers prick and stimulate: “People make up all kinds of excuses”