Join the challenge, make a difference!

April 22, 2023

Reducing plastic pollution


Every year, more than 11 million metric tons of plastics end up in our seas and oceans. A large part of this waste – which comes from our streets – enters our oceans from rivers, which is why Belgian NGO River Cleanup is organising its second #rivercleanupchallenge. The campaign, which is set to run for one month, will end on 8 June 2023, a symbolic date, as this is ‘World Ocean Day’. Participating is easy: head out and spend 10 minutes cleaning up litter, in a park, near a river, or on your doorstep. Then take a hero photo and challenge three other people to follow your example.


With this campaign, River Cleanup wants to raise people’s awareness about litter. We are all very much aware of the impact of litter on nature and animals but the health consequences are also becoming increasingly apparent: we now know that plastics break down into miniscule micro and nanoplastics over time, which enter our bodies through the food and drinking water we consume.

A simple gesture, a world of difference

The campaign premise is simple: a small gesture can make a big difference. Taking ten minutes out of your day to pick up litter really does make all the difference, as Thomas de Groote, founder and CEO of River Cleanup, experienced first-hand, when he was challenged in 2017 to pick up litter for 10 minutes:


The mere fact of picking up litter that wasn’t mine was a real eye-opener. Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. It was everywhere. And that is when I realised how casual our attitude is when it comes to our planet. It made me think about my own behaviour, I became a more conscious consumer. Since then, this small gesture has inspired more than 200,000 other people, including myself, to go out and pick up litter”, says de Groote.

The goal of this campaign? River Cleanup hopes to get at least 10,000 people around the world to join in this challenge, the equivalent of a total of 100,000 minutes.

With this campaign, River Cleanup encourages individuals, as well as schools and companies to head outside and pick up litter. Leading companies, such as Salesforce, Cisco, Accenture, Volkswagen, A.S.Adventure, Boma, Keytrade Bank, Multi Masters Group, and Dell Technologies have already signed up for the campaign.


Global kick-off

The international campaign kicked off this past weekend during Earth Day (22 April) with events taking place on all five continents. In Belgium, cleanup activities were organised in Ghent, Aalst, and Antwerp, in addition to clean-ups in Indonesia, the Philippines, Albania, Cameroon, Bulgaria, and Canada. In so doing, River Cleanup demonstrates that contributing to a healthier environment can also be fun. And it seems the Belgian NGO succeeded in its endeavour given that 1.166 volunteers turned up worldwide. Together they completed the first 11.660 minutes of the challenge, helping to make our world a little more plastic-free.

Want to make a difference? Join us! 

  • Want to make our world more beautiful (and cleaner!)? River Cleanup challenges everyone to pick up litter and see how they feel about this. Join us! How? Just take a 10-minute walk around your neighbourhood and pick up litter as you go. The River Cleanup Challenge runs until 8 June 2023.
  • Where and when should you do this? It’s up to you.
  • Take a hero photo with the litter you collected and share it on social media with #rivercleanupchallenge. Don’t forget to tag @rivercleanup.
  • Challenge at least three other people to follow your example.

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