Trash Hero World is looking back on a successful and eventful year. What began as a weekly beach cleanup in Thailand in 2013 has developed into a global movement, thanks to the tireless efforts of scores of volunteers. Our network has expanded into new areas. Whilst in 2016, we had local chapters in 30 locations across 7 countries, by the end of 2017, we had chapters in 52 locations across 9 countries.
The foundation of our work continues to be the weekly cleanup activities, during which we make participants aware of the global waste problem and show how each individual can contribute to its solution. In addition, we continue to support the implementation and expansion of our bottle refill program, and we are committed to promoting sustainable waste management. In many areas we collaborate with organisations that have similar goals to ours. We cultivate our contact network and keep in touch with Trash Hero supporters worldwide through a variety of channels, including social media.
3 Faced with rapid growth and its associated challenges, in 2017 we launched a targeted fundraising campaign in Liechtenstein and Switzerland. We also launched and completed our first, successful crowdfunding campaign. In 2017 we could still not afford to pay salaries because all donations went straight to the implementation of projects. Nevertheless, we were able to achieve our goals because our volunteers and core team continued to work on a voluntary basis.
The Trash Hero “virus” is unstoppable and it is only thanks to the dedication of our global teams that we can respond to the volume of requests we receive. We also notice that many local communities take the lead in independently initiating new projects. Finally, we continue to receive enquiries to start new chapters every week, increasingly from Africa and South America.
The chapters are working, the Trash Hero “virus” is spreading and the whole Trash Hero family (as we call our team) is in it with heart and soul. We are convinced that during 2018 we will be able to professionalise the movement. From a global perspective, we must strengthen our core team and fill key positions full-time. We believe in Trash Hero and will not give up because we know we are doing the right thing: We are committed to a clean future!
Our goal for the next three years is to recruit 150,000 Trash Heroes in 65 locations worldwide. Our cleanup activities will result in an estimated 750 tons of waste being collected. We will focus on the question “Where does the trash go?” and try to find a solution for each material collected, so that as little waste as possible ends up in the landfill or being incinerated.
We clean up
In 2017, more than 38,000 volunteers (compared with an estimated 20,000), including some 6,600 children (8,000 estimated) gained consciousness of the global waste problem through our programs. After a short introduction participants spend a few hours collecting waste themselves; a personal experience that brings them face to face with the waste problem.
In 2017 alone, we collected a total of 188 tons of waste (compared with an estimated 100 tons) in 1,300 cleanups (1,000 estimated). Cleanups are currently taking place in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New York, Czech Republic, China, Switzerland and Singapore. In comparison to 2016, we have seen the number of volunteers, and the amount of collected waste, triple.
Where does the trash go?
This is a key question and we address it at each event we organise. We sort the collected waste with the participants and pass on the recyclable materials. In Thailand, we work with Tlejourn, a company that makes new shoes and flip-flops from discarded flip flops collected at the beach. Trash Hero inspired the founding of Tlejourn in 2015 and it is now an independent social enterprise. Another use for non-compostable waste are the so-called Ecobricks (www.ecobricks.org). EcobGoal 1 Our goal for the next three years is to recruit 150,000 Trash Heroes in 65 locations worldwide. Our cleanup activities will result in an estimated 750 tons of waste being collected. We will focus on the question “Where does the trash go?” and try to find a solution for each material collected, so that as little waste as possible ends up in the landfill or being incinerated.
5 ricks are manufactured by filling plastic bottles with non-biodegradable, non-recyclable waste. The stuffed bottles can then be used as building blocks for construction, furniture or landscaping. With these measures, we want to ensure that as little waste as possible ends up in a landfill or being openly burned. Despite our efforts, some local communities still have to collect the waste and transport it to a landfill site. Participants in our projects observe this and it often leads to meaningful changes in their own behaviour.
Various Trash Hero cleanups in Thailand send the Flip Flops they find to Tlejourn in Pattani (Thailand) where they are used to make new products.
An example of how walls can built using Ecobricks.
Our goal for the next 3 years is to motivate 45,000 children and students to participate in Trash Hero events, in 33 locations worldwide. Our own children’s book and activity program should reach 33,000 children and challenge them to become Trash Heroes in their everyday lives.
We begin by making people aware of the waste problem and of recycling. We strengthen their awareness with our highly visible cleanup programs, through workshops at schools and by spreading our message through social media, television and newspapers. However, sometimes word-of-mouth is the simplest and most effective way to reach people. Our teams sell Trash Hero T-shirts printed in the local language and in English and the message on the T-shirts refers to our activities and encourages people to get involved. The T-shirts are worn proudly and Trash Hero is gaining in recognition through this.
When possible, Trash Hero World finances chapters with the first batch of T-shirts. Once they are all sold, the revenue can be used to order another batch. In 2017, we reached 6,600 children (our estimation was 8,000) with our cleanup operations; and more and more schools invite Trash Hero to work with them, either through classroom workshops, or by attending our cleanups. Trash Hero World donated Trash Hero T-shirts to more than 1,100 children as a reward for their participation in our projects. In addition, our first crowdfunding campaign for the Trash Hero children’s book reached its target within a month, allowing us to fund printing of 2,000 books and T-shirts that will help us reach the next generation of Trash Heroes in 2018.
Our goal for the next three years is to expand the Bottles & Bags program. The water refill network should grow to 660 participating businesses in 40 different locations worldwide, distributing 140,000 bottles and avoiding the use and waste of an estimated 51 million plastic bottles. The sale of 77,000 Trash Hero bags will save the use of 7.7 million single use plastic bags.
The accumulation of plastic and other materials on beaches and in our oceans increasingly poses an environmental threat. In many parts of Southeast Asia, tourism has grown so fast that local waste management infrastructure cannot cope with the increased volume of waste. With our Trash Hero Bottles & Bags program, we aim to reduce the consumption of single use disposable plastic. Our Trash Hero stainless steel bottles are provided at cost to hotels, restaurants and bars. These in turn sell the bottles in their shops at a small profit, which goes towards the financing of a water refill station.
Each Trash Hero bottle can be refilled anywhere in the network as often as needed, and for free. In 2017, we expanded the bottle program from 10 locations in Thailand to 23 locations in Thailand and Indonesia. More than 250 local companies sold 17,000 bottles (compared with 20,000 estimated), avoiding the use and waste of some 6.3 million plastic bottles. Trash Hero World financed the production of 2,500 bottles upfront. Because of the two-month lead time for bottle production and a minimum order of 1,000 pieces per location, this resulted in a continuous stock being available. At the same time we sold 3,000 reusable Trash Hero shopping bags in five locations in Thailand and shipped 3,000 bags to other Trash Hero countries.
As a result of the success of the bottle program, other countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar and Laos are now interested in implementing it. However, due to a lack of resources, we have had to postpone the expansion of the bottle and the bag program to 2018.
Our goal for 2018 is the implementation of the “Trash Hero @ Work” accreditation scheme in other businesses, and securing its financing. By 2019, the label is expected to become a strong brand for companies committed to reducing waste. Thanks to the revenues from these corporate programs, we can cross-finance projects in developing and emerging countries long term.
Trash Hero @ Work
In December 2016, we launched the “Trash Hero @ Work” accreditation scheme with the aim of minimising company waste. The pilot project, with a Swiss architectural office, was a success. After a thorough analysis of all the waste generated in the office, the employees took measures to reduce the waste they produce and introduced a “zero waste” concept. Companies looking for corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects, often in conjunction with employer branding programs, are very interested in our concept.
We are now partners with the Swiss non-profit organisation reCIRCLE, which advocates the reuse of takeaway containers. In 2017, two more companies started implementing Trash Hero @ Work. Due to a lack of resources, various requests are still on our pending list. In November 2017 we signed a “bottle deal” with a multinational company. In the spring of 2018, their 5,000 employees at the Swiss branch will each receive our stainless steel bottle, saving 1.5 million plastic cups per year. Whether the company officially commits to Trash Hero @ Work is 10 still open, but the overall goal of waste reduction has been attained.
Countries with strong Trash Hero local chapters should become more independent and officially register as non-profit organisations. They should hire local employees for the coordination, mentoring and monitoring of their country’s chapters. Trash Hero World will help to implement this both structurally and financially.
We think longterm.
Trash Hero chapter leaders from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore gathered at a conference for three days in the spring, and again in the autumn of 2017, to further strengthen and coordinate their work. They exchanged knowledge, skills and experience; and discussed future projects. Organisations such as “Bye Bye Plastic Bags”, “Ecobricks”, “Let’s Do It World” and Greenpeace, were also invited to participate with the aim of promoting national and international cooperation.
The conferences were a success, building team spirit and collective know-how and having an inspiring and motivating effect. These “Family Meetings” are enriching for the local chapters, and lead to new ideas and connections being generated. Trash Hero World supported the “Family Meetings” by assuming travel and accommodation costs on behalf of the local and national project organisers: CHF 16,600 for a total of 185 participants. Southeast Asian volunteers cannot finance their travelling costs without the support of Trash Hero World.
Our goal is that these volunteers, who do unpaid work every week, benefit first. The brand name “Trash Hero” is now globally trademarked and protected in countries in Asia, Goal 5 Countries with strong Trash Hero local chapters should become more independent and officially register as non-profit organisations. They should hire local employees for the coordination, mentoring and monitoring of their country’s chapters. Trash Hero World will help to implement this both structurally and financially. 11 America and Europe. With the input of many local chapter organisers, the board of Trash Hero World has developed a mission statement.
We maintain local, national & global partnerships
To expand our network and broaden our knowledge of waste and its management, the Trash Hero movement was present at several congresses in 2017: at “Zero Waste Indonesia 2020 Movement; “ASEAN Conference on Reducing Marine Debris”; and “Clean World Conference”. We actively work with other organisations. For example Trash Hero Indonesia collaborated at the “Indonesian Cleanup Day” in October 2017, organised by “Let’s Do It Indonesia”, with a total of 100,000 volunteers. They also helped at the biggest beach cleanup in the history of Bali, “One Island One Voice” in February 2017 with a total of 12,000 volunteers. (www.byebyeplasticbags.org).
In Thailand, Trash Hero chapters are participating in a project for a new school building for homeless children, with our partner www.ecobricks.org. After cleanups, and at home, participants fill plastic bottles with non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste to create “ecobricks”, which are then donated to the school and used in construction.
Break Free From Plastic Initiative
We work closely with organisations that share our values and want to take measures to counteract increasing plastic waste. The global initiative “Break Free from Plastic” aims to stop plastic pollution, and Trash Hero World is one of its 90 founding members.
The support of this Swiss non-profit organisation is not only financial; Trash Hero World also benefits from the exchange of know-how and their active interest and input in projects. OceanCare holds the position of UN Special Advisor on Marine Conservation since 2011, and has 28 years of marine conservation experience.
World Cleanup Day 15. September 2018
As a partner of the “World Cleanup Day 2018”, we are helping to make this global event a reality. Roman Peter is part of the mentoring team at “Let’s Do It World” and serves as an advisor to various countries in Asia. On September 15, 2018, cleanup operations will take place simultaneously in all countries of the world. The common goal: to actively involve five percent of the world’s population, reaching one billion people in the cleanup. www.worldcleanupday.org
Awards and media attention
We have received several local and national awards in Southeast Asia for our projects. In Switzerland, Trash Hero World received the Recognition Award of the Swiss Environmental Foundation in May 2017. The Swiss Environmental Foundation praised Trash Hero World’s commitment to the global effort to make people aware of the littering problem and the local disposal of plastic waste.
In 2017, the Trash Hero movement was covered by the national media of Southeast Asia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France and the UK. The Swiss media in particular focused on Trash Hero World. Two articles were published in the Luzerner Zeitung in January and July 2017; one in Globetrotter magazine in September; and full length features were broadcast on the TV shows “SRF Talk Aeschbacher” in March and “SRF DOK” in May.
Trash Hero also appeared in international media such as Sky News and France 24. In September 2017, a double page spread was published in the inflight magazine of Swiss International Airlines, which reaches one million readers each month. In 2017, three Trash Heroes from Myanmar, the Czech Republic and Thailand made presentations at TEDxconferences. Their stories reached several thousand people on www.tedx.com.
We thank you
Our work is made possible thanks to the generous support of numerous volunteers. Special thanks goes to the local chapters who organise cleanups, educational programs and bottle programs around the world every week. We also thank all volunteers who assist us in fundraising, communication and administration work. Special mention goes to our steadily growing number of sponsors, donors, foundations and partner companies. We believe in our success, in the unique Trash Hero message and we will not give up because we are doing the right thing: We are committed to a clean future.