How can you start Trash Hacking your life?

Written by
Sarah Maulina, Christina Petri, Ivan Kozlov, Mais Hassan, Olarip Tomito and Sylvian Perrier
May 2, 2021

This blog was written as part of our partnership with UNESCO’s Trash Hack campaign. Trash Hacks are tips and tricks to help reduce waste which can lead to big ideas for the planet. Find out more or post your own #TrashHack on social media:

With the Trash Hack campaign, UNESCO has collaborated with World Cleanup Day to inspire you through the stories of six young leaders who have Trash Hacked their lives and engaged their communities in the fight against waste.

After reading their stories and tips on specific topics (as digital waste, plogging and mapping activities, environmental education at school, plastic consumption and waste segregation) find out more about their advice to #TrashHack your life completely and enjoy their inspirational video.

Step 1: Start from yourself first

Every huge change in the world starts by changing yourself. Be your very own leader or influential figure to inspire others doing the same. It will be even better if you can influence others, whether your family, community chairman, teacher, students or even influential public figures to encourage collective actions for the sake of our community and home planet.

Step 2: Start simple and begin with your end goal in mind

People who do great things in life, often start from small actions and a clear vision in the end – as simple as seeing litter in the street.  If we start to imagine how this waste will affect the environment, it ends up in the sea and piles up in landfills. From those thoughts, we can start to do our part, by disposing of the waste in the right place, segregate, recycle or even better reduce it from the source. Clear vision and strong reason make people believe in what they are doing.  

Step 3: Consistency

Most people find it difficult to change. But, how about making change a regular in our daily life? Maybe it will feel unnatural at first, but by time you will get used to it. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days to form a lifestyle.

Step 4: Raise your voice. Share it!

“It is only that one plastic bag” …and it is thrown away – 7.6 Billion people say this and there is no such place as away. For this statement, the opposite would also work – going towards a better change. We must show people our actions to make people think and start questioning, considering their actions, and cause a ripple effect of social behavior changes in society.

Step 5: Collaboration

Working with young leaders and involving the youth community as much as possible. For example, Indonesia has more than 3.000 communities and more than 50 percent of them are led by youth and in Greece 45.000 students took the lead and organized voluntary events during “Let’s do it Greece Volunteering Week” in 2019.

In addition, young people in Tanzania have been engaged in trash mapping and regarded as agents of change, Ambassadors. They pioneer most social and community cleanups and have become a new normal where different events, national or international are initiated with cleanups. Additionally, every last Saturday of every month is declared a day for community cleanups seamless across the country. More than 20 jogging clubs with more than 60 plus members in the Dar es Salaam have been trained and have adopted plogging mostly coordinated by youth.

As youngsters we have the chance to be so tightly connected throughout social media and have access to valuable information instantly. Opportunities to share our best hacks and support each other is at its utmost!

Imagine what can be achieved if we engage youth from their first years of schooling?

Step 6: Make it big, to be visible

After you share your actions, together, you can enlarge your actions to be seen by others and indirectly invite them to follow those actions.

Most changes affected from cleanup actions later develop into a deeper understanding of the behavior towards waste issues, which shape the personal values of the citizens. This is because our youth becomes more aware of waste issues. So, people will become more aware of trash in their surrounding environment and start picking it up. Being mindful of their consumption and the waste produced by it. And we can make waste reduction and waste segregation, a collective habit, and a social standard.

Cree Indian Prophecy says, “Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught. Only then will we realize that we cannot eat money”.

We all know that it is so hard to start an action. But trust me, if not us, who will? It all depends on you, one small step after the other!

So, what will be your Trash Hack?

Share it with us by posting with #TrashHack!

With the Trash Hack campaign, UNESCO has collaborated with World Cleanup Day to inspire you through the stories of six young leaders who have Trash Hacked their lives and engaged their communities in the fight against waste.
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