GreenBuzz Berlin is on a mission! This post is part of our 100 Sustainable Solutions initiative. Learn more about it here.

Why does your organisation exist?

Around 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. That’s a truckload every minute! Plastic is non-degradable and lasts up to 400 years, thus harming the marine ecosystem by causing pollution and death of marine life. The consequences for the human body are not yet known.

A large proportion of this plastic is carried to sea by rivers. They act as conveyor belts that pick up more and more trash as they move downstream. In order to solve the problem of plastic pollution in the long run, it is crucial to change our behaviour and understand how each player contributes. Since Germany consumes the most plastic in Europe – 24.5% of total demand – we thought it would be good to start here.

What impact do you have?

Our mission as environmental art- and educational project is to tackle plastic pollution of rivers and oceans and reconnect people with nature. We do this through photo art, educational projects with classes, and proactively gathering people to clean rivers, canals and parks locally. At local river cleanups we enable individuals, companies and schools to take a stand for their surrounding nature. They can get engaged and feel the positive impact right away! Volunteers collect all the plastic and other waste floating around in the water and stuck in the surrounding areas by kayaking down a stretch of the river. Taking action helps people understand the problem at its roots. It allows them to contribute in their own “backyard”. Thus we create a sense of ownership as well as the empowering feeling that many small actions will go a long way.

Afterwards the once “useless“ plastic waste is transformed into photo art and presented in public exhibitions. With our educational projects, we foster awareness amongst children and adults alike, offering an easy participation opportunities for different types of people.

Of course we measure the amount of collected plastic waste per year as well as the length of river stretch freed from plastic. We also count the number of visitors at our exhibitions, children participating in our school projects, and the volunteers at our cleanup events.

What are your main challenges? (Now and in the foreseeable future.)

We race against time. Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues. The rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them. We need a change on many different levels all over the world. That’s a difficult task! And different interest groups do not make it any easier.

As a nonprofit organization, it is difficult for us to obtain financial security. Therefore it is crucial to use our few resources as effectively as possible, which is challenging.

What gives you reason for optimism for the future?

We feel the momentum building slowly. The first steps towards a more sustainable handling of plastic are happening. We still have a lot of work to do, but are in the right place to contribute to this change. Plus we receive so much wonderful feedback on our work and get the chance to meet so many dedicated people. They motivate us incredibly and help us to believe that we can make a difference!

We have curious readers, eager to get active. How can they get involved with your project?

Join our cleanup events all over Germany, visit our exhibitions or meet us at public events. All dates are published on our website. Coming out of winter and due to Corona restrictions, we still need a little time until we’re back on the rivers and at other events.

We are always looking for volunteers who want to use their expert knowledge for a good cause. So if you want to join our team send us an email at: email hidden; JavaScript is required.
And of course you can support us financially by becoming a member or making a donation here: https://cleanriverproject.de/spenden-fuer-saubere-fluesse-und-meere/

How can they get in touch?

Just send us an email at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Sabine Zimmermann
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