We were founded in 2016 in Belgium when our board director Tim Corbisier picked up trash that washed ashore while running. After he disposed his bag with litter, he found it very satifisfying doing sports while contributing to the environment. He thought of it as an idea worth spreading and founded a Facebook Group (now >5500 members) where people could post their cleaning-up to create awareness and inspire others to do the same. Quickly this group gained much media attention and expanded very fast.
Fast forward to the present:
The group has become a diverse platform where all sorts of people, professions and organizations discuss the global litter problem and plastic soup, post pictures of cleanups, pictures of plastic art, discuss ideas and solutions... Because we have become the largest network of civilians cleaning our beaches, biologists and animal shelter organizations are member of our group and get informed about where certain fauna and flora is found. SIn some cases wildlife in life threatening situations got saved. We also help people and organizations with localizing lost objects or materials. In some cases our members attribute to heritage by finding and discovering archeological objects.
We always try to find the cause of the littering and try to tackle the source. We lift the problem to a higher level, counsel local governments and point out accountability.
A year after foundation we transfered to a non-profit organization and set up a solid masterplan. Until this day our initiative is driven and managed by volunteers. We organize cleanups and educational days with schools and teambuildings.
A dozen groups have been inspired by our succes and have started local groups throughout the country with our help. We founded an umbrella organization called zwerfvuilNET to gather all voluntary cleaning activities to map the problem.