Save Our Planet: Pick up one piece of litter a day


Over the years I have lived in many different places and countries, but one thing is always there: litter. The only difference is the amount and the type of garbage you find on the streets. However, rather than spending time and energy on getting annoyed by it, the most effective way of dealing with it is to actually do something about it. Today I want to share two ways in which you can do something about litter, while at the same time help to create a statue that will be exhibited in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games in 2016.

Don’t complain, but “just do it” is the attitude of Peter Smith, the artist behind the Plastic Madonna. Recently, he launched this project to show that together we can save the earth. The Plastic Madonna is “a statue of a mother breastfeeding her child. It will be made of recycled plastic litter and approximately 12 metres long. The statue is planned to be exhibited on the beach of Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games in 2016.

A model of the Plastic Madonna statue Source

A model of the Plastic Madonna statue (source: Plastic Madonna website, made by Arno Bosma)

The statue will be made of litter plastic PET bottles. In the Netherlands, shops only have a take back deposit system for large (> 1 liter) bottles, not for the smaller ones. Hence, lots of these small bottles end up on the streets. The Plastic Madonna team encourages people to pick up one such bottle and bring it to a collection point.

Powerful and easy

I really like this project. It’s message is so powerful: each of us can make a difference by picking up just one piece of litter a day. The action of doing so barely takes a minute of your time, yet makes you feel good while at the same time removes trash from our streets.

This is why I am so happy that we at Plastic-Free Tuesday have the chance to get involved in the Plastic Madonna project. In order to collect sufficient litter PET bottles, all throughout the Netherlands are collection points. These are large containers or baskets where people can leave the litter bottle(s) they picked up.

To bring the project to the town I live in, I got in touch with a local café which is located right beside the local library. The manager kindly agreed to have a basket near the entrance where people can leave litter bottles. We also reached out to local newspapers to get more publicity for the collection point. The more attention the project gets, the better.

Basket in Rijnsburg (De Burgt, Burg. Koomansplein 1)

Plastic Madonna collection point in Rijnsburg (De Burgt, Burg. Koomansplein 1)

You too can contribute, even if you’re not in the Netherlands

Now, no matter where in the world you are, there are two things you can do to contribute to this fantastic project.

1. Donate € 1.00 to the Plastic Madonna project

This money will be used for covering the costs of the 3D printing process, shipping, posters, etcetera. Please donate no more than 1 euro. Peter Smith explains: “Whether your name is Bill Gates, Richard Branson or Joe Bloggs, it’s the same with the huge problem of Plastic Soup, everyone can contribute equally to solving the problem.”

These are the bank  details: account number NL16 TRIO 0197 9898 45. The account owner is Stichting Klean (Klean Foundation). Please state that you’re donating to the Plastic Madonna.

2. Pick up one PET bottle that is littering the street and write a story about the litter situation in your country

All these stories will be published on a ‘map of the world’. This map will help us to better understand the problem of litter plastic bottles. To contribute, please take a picture as you pick up one or more PET bottles from the street, write a short note about the situation of litter in your country or city, and send it all to

Share your litter with #Zwerfie and #Litterati

I hope you all like the project as much as I do. Please help our friends to show the world that together we can make a difference. Let’s clean up our streets, let’s just do it! If you pick up any litter, please take a picture of it and share it with the rest of the world using #zwerfie and/or #litterati. Happy #PlasticFreeTuesday!


About Author


In 2013, after reading yet another article about plastic soup, Annemieke started her Dutch blog Plasticminimalism where she documented her small steps towards life with less plastic. To create more awareness about the adverse impacts of our plastic consumption, she launched Plastic-Free Tuesday in spring 2014. She strongly believes that building a better world starts by changing our own behavior. Annemieke is trained in environmental science and policy. She alternates living in the Netherlands, Sweden, the US, and China.

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