The Enjoycleaningup Story

IT ALL BEGAN WHEN…

Alex went for a diving trip to Curacao in 2016 and he noticed that there was more waste than fish or coral. This startling realization sparked something in him, opened his eyes and brought up a strong desire to set something up to address the issue in Curacao. Soon however, he realized that his home country of the Netherlands also had a lot of work and attention needed when it comes to the environment and waste. “Just take a look at the side of every road – there is a lot of trash. If you look closer, then you’ll likely even see that the water beside those roads is full with waste” Alex points out.

INSPIRATION CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE… OR ANYONE

In fact, Joy, Alex’s sweet Labrador seemed aware of it and took it upon herself to bring home bottles and cans. “I don’t even know how or why it started! Every walk, she would pick up something and take it home, inspiring me not to step over the waste anymore but to also pick up something each time with Joy and dispose of it in the nearest bin” shares Alex.

The mission’s focus to clean up one bay in Curacao every day on the beach and in the ocean soon shifted because of Joy’s behavior. Alex pondered, “The Netherlands has 2.2 million dogs that go outside an average of 4 times a day. What if everyone could pick up one piece of litter during their walks from their own surroundings? Then we would be cleaning up 8.8 million pieces per day, and that’s just in the Netherlands.” Now, imagine if dog owners from all over the globe joined this movement.

BUT HOW CAN DOGS PLAY A PART?

Surely not every dog out there has a natural tendency to pick up litter, so how exactly does this work? “It was not the idea to train the dogs. The idea was that you walk daily with your dog several times and to inspire people to pick trash while walking your dog in your own neighborhood.  We want to give the training to dog schools so they have a “green” training and can provide the “Enjoycleaningup” training. In this way they can reach more people and dogs than we can do ourselves. We need them to create this movement in the world” shares Alex. That’s why in 2018 Enjoycleaningup partnered up with the Martin Gaus Dog Schools to help facilitate the necessary training. Some basic tips and pointers can already be found here.

SPREADING AWARENESS

In 2016, with the help of social media, various campaigns were executed and the story of the initiative started garnering interest and attention. Enjoycleaningup soon gained popularity and started inspiring people from all over the world to join in and participate in this seemingly simple yet highly impactful clean-up mission. In 2018, Joy won the ‘Animal of the Year’ award from Kidsweek, which further served as a boost for the organization and its mission. There was also a feature of Joy in a Donald Duck comic-strip while an invitation was even extended by President Rutte at The Catshuis (official residence of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands). And in 2022, Joy and Bas were featured in a video by Daily Paws which further propelled interest and participation for the cause.

TODAY AND MOVING FORWARD

Thanks to the focus on the positive narrative and media attention of Joy and Bas engaging in cleaning up activities, there are now 550 dogs across 12 countries participating as ambassadors. But the journey to a cleaner world is nowhere near completion. Enjoycleaningup’s goal now is to mobilize the 550 heroes (dogs) currently participating as ambassadors.

“If each of these 550 dog owners can recruit 3 new dogs, we’ll have 2200 local heroes in “round 1.” If these new local heroes, in turn, recruit 3 new dogs each, we’ll reach 8800 heroes in “round 3.” This is our strategy to expand the movement and hopefully reach every dog owner. We’re offering this idea for free to dog schools, hoping that every dog school worldwide will adopt the “Enjoycleaningup” training, continuing to spread the story and encouraging their clients to make a positive impact by cleaning up” explains Alex.

The efforts don’t just stop there though as Enjoycleaningup also incorporates technology to further elevate awareness on the cause. The Labratorium initially served a few purposes – as a lavatory for the ladies as some clean-up spots may not have such facilities and it was also a place where coffee and tea could be provided for volunteers. That was the start of the idea but it has since evolved into a place for education and awareness with 4D movie screenings and now acts as a mobile clubhouse! Think of it as educating today for a better tomorrow. Bookings for the Labratorium can be done here

Then comes Enjoycleaningup’s not-so-furry dog friend, the robot dog! “The robots are developed as not everyone likes real dogs and sometimes we can bring our dogs. We want to also inspire other people but our robots are also dogs”, says Alex.

HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TOO

Today, Enjoycleaningup has a great team of volunteers who help out on varying aspects of the organization from IT engineers to people who just want to help make the world a little bit cleaner. “We have a lot of young people. All are positive minds and want to contribute to a better world” says Alex.

If you too would like to join, you can register your dog as a hero at https://enjoycleaningup.com/local-heroes/. It doesn’t matter whether you or your dog do the cleaning. We also have a Facebook community page where you can share your adventures with your dog, inspiring others to join in.

Feel free to join us on any of our upcoming clean-up events. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded people, get out, discover the Netherlands, learn, and of course meet Joy and Bas!

If you’re with a company or organization that wants to be a part of Enjoycleaningup or help our cause, you can do so here. With your support, we can continue providing our free clean-ups and keep developing our organization for a cleaner future! 

Vacature: Penningmeester Stichting Enjoycleaningup

Ben jij een rasoptimist die gepassioneerd is over het creëren van een schonere wereld? Heb je ervaring met financieel beheer en ben je op zoek naar een uitdagende vrijwilligersrol waarin je je vaardigheden kunt inzetten voor een goed doel? Dan is deze functie als penningmeester bij Stichting Enjoycleaningup iets voor jou!

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