Dutch Eco-Hero Proves That One Man CAN Make a Difference

Tired of witnessing copious amounts of trash strewn across the banks of River Schie in Rotterdam, Dutch artist Tommy Kleyn decided to step up and do something about it. He singlehandedly organised a cleanup of the entire bank, leaving absolutely no trace of trash whatsoever, proving that anyone can indeed made a difference if they want to.

Kleyn, 37, became aware of the issue during his morning commute to work – he would bike past a section of the Rotterdam riverway and see piles of trash along the bank. The situation troubled him, so he decided to spend 30 minutes every day cleaning the place up, filling one garbage bag a time. And when he posted photographs of his work on Facebook, a few of his friends decided to pitch in as well. In five weeks, they had a 100-meter stretch sparkling clean and completely trash-free.


Kleyn’s unique initiative has received tremendous support online, and he’s managed to convert it into a small movement. He has set up a Facebook page through which he challenges people to spend 30 minutes a year to fill a trash bag with litter. “It feels great and you’ll make a big impact,” he wrote. People are free to share their ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics on the page. The challenge has caught on, with people in countries as far as Taiwan responding with their own photos and stories!


Kleyn revealed that his unborn child was the inspiration behind his project. His wife is currently pregnant, and he wondered what he would tell his kid someday if the little one asked him about all the trash. “I might say it’s because people haven’t thrown away their trash,” Kleyn told the media. “But my answer would be that it’s because his dad has not cleaned up.”


“I want to show how easy it is to remove the clutter,” he added. “Hopefully there will come a time when manufacturers are thoughtful and their products are no longer wrapped in layers of plastic.”


Local officials are full of praise for Kleyn’s work on the riverbank. They’re hailing him as a model citizen, and helping him out with funds for future projects as well. “They asked me if I want to apply for an annual event,” he said. “People can sign up to help me one day a year. For this, they receive a coupon, for example, to a local barbecue. What I’ve managed to do in 22 days, 22 men could do in a day.”




Tommy Kleyn’s work on the river Schie has already started to pay off, as proven by this photo of an adorable Eurasian Coot that started nesting in the area that he cleaned.

Photos: Tommy Kleyn/Facebook

Sources: AD.nl, Metro News

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