Being an Internet millionaire doesn’t mean you’re only interested in creating businesses that make huge profits — though our list of 25 that ditched infotech for cleantech are certainly still trying. Estonian entrepreneurs Ahti Heinla, a Skype guru, and Rainer Nolvak, founder of MicroLink and Delfi, have decided to use their creative minds and Google mapping software to start a grassroots project aimed at cleaning up their small home country.
They’re calling it Let’s Do It! 2008, and last weekend over 50,000 volunteers, more than 3 percent of the Estonian population of 1.3 million, joined together to clean the forests, roadsides and other public areas from garbage. Using software based on Google Earth, the crew mapped out 10,000 illegal waste dumping sites, gathered the waste from these spots and took it to over 200 temporary collection stations.
This was the first massive recycling project in Estonia, a small European Union country that only regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and has had a big problem with illegal dumping. The aim of the initiative is to recycle up to 80 percent of the collected garbage, which could prove to be a challenge as on average, just 10 percent of the country’s garbage is recycled.
What a nice way to combine grassroots activism and technology. And the example of Estonia has already inspired others as well. Estonia’s neighbor Lithuania has already declared war on both its garbage and Estonia, trying to collect three times more garbage than the Estonians.
Check out the interactive map on their web site. You can click through to small areas and check out the satellite imagery via Google maps.