Confronting a national bias against volunteering, a group of environmentalists in Albania recently joined forces to collect 1.2 tons of waste scattered along one part of the country’s coast, Balkan Insight reports.
Aranita Brahaj, executive director of Albania’s Science Institute, said the idea for the cleanup emerged after she and her colleagues received reports generated through a citizen reporting project to map coastal pollution. (The Ushahidi platform was used to map the location of the garbage, a piece of software that has also been used for mapping numerous other initiatives in TOL’s coverage region.) Brahaj then contacted activists from the Tirana Express Center, part of Albania’s underground art scene, who used Facebook to organize and raise funds.
The sixhour cleanup around the area of the Rodon cape, north of Durres, was a small but significant break with prevailing ideas about volunteerism in Albania, where it is linked with communistera forced labor, Balkan Insight reports.
In a 2009 survey, 69 percent of respondents listed embarrassment, among other reasons, for not volunteering.
A similar project, pioneered in Estonia in 2008, features smart phone applications for submitting reports on trash left behind in nature areas. Projects have subsequently been launched in many other countries to organize volunteer cleanups.
Image courtesy Smart Tourist Albania