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River Clean-Up Gosselin 2022
Deurne, Tuesday, September 27
The weather forecast is predicting storm, hail and downpours on the day of our well-planned clean-up. A supermotivated team of 35 people waits impatiently at our HQ entrance to take on the battle for a cleaner planet. It almost looks like a gladiator fight in an ancient Roman arena. Armed with trash pickers and plastic bags, the Gosselin Logistics Forest team is teasing the “warriors” from our legal department who are ready to strike with their tactical nets, while the communication team observes and waits tactfully for the thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal. On the frontlines, Dirk Vanhoutteghem, co-owner of the Gosselin group, is already doing his clean-up warm-up.
The race against the weather clock starts. Dark clouds are approaching our clean-up teams at the speed of lightning. Half an hour later, the first downpours strike our three teams all at once with, showing no mercy. Nobody bails out however, and the waste collection continues. Unfortunately, our “trucker street” offers plenty of opportunities to test our cleaning skills. A second attempt, this time with holy hail falling like tears from heaven, tests our resilience. The Gosselin troops are shivering and work up a second wind for their final round of cleaning. In one hour, our super women and men cleaned the entire area and the rain didn’t get the chance to push the trash into our sewage and water system.
One hour was enough to collect 155 kg (5.2 kg/person) of trash in a so-called clean street, filling two full mega waste containers; I believe we still have a problem in Belgium, or not?
Brucargo, Tuesday, September 27
40 km south of Deurne, where the sun is shining, and a highly motivated team of young planet-savers is ready to take on the challenge. Our international air cargo region is part of the clean spots in Belgium. Nonetheless, our team of eight people collected an amazing 25 kg in an hour and a half. Passengers arriving at or departing from the Brussels Airport in Zaventem were sure to see the yellow-green Gosselin logo bouncing over the clean green areas.
New food terminal, Deurne, September 28
The real-time weather app was once again predicting heavy rain in Deurne. We put together a team with the right skills to learn from yesterday’s experience. With some heavy lifting of the weather app with our IT software modification talent, we could postpone the forecasted rain until late in the evening. Great job!
Unexpectedly, the new food terminal was still very busy. Logistics has a heavy workload! Most of the common areas were clean since safety and hygiene are critical in warehouses to prevent accidents. A tiny scrap of plastic on a wet surface can cause a fatal slip and fall accident. I speak from experience; it happened to me just last week during the preparations for the clean-up!
We took on the challenge by taking a deeper and different look at all the tiny corners of the quay. Thanks to the efforts of the Heavy & IT department as the core of a team of 23 people, we were able to collect 83 kg of waste (4.15 kg/person), lower than the score the day before. What was even more worrisome however was the quantity of cigarette butts. Based on the focused collection efforts of several senior managers in our team, we estimate this number was around 1,000. Even if we don’t consider the fact that smoking causes cancer and reduces your lifespan by up to 13 years, it’s still worrying. Every butt is responsible for polluting 40 liters of water with microplastics. Given our close proximity to the river, this is a justified concern. 40,000 liters of water ruined, and this problem is easy to prevent with just a few ashtrays, smoking areas, and some discipline and good will. When we returned, we even saw a few of our own Gosselin people throwing the butts on the ground. Plenty of reason for a call to action, wouldn’t you agree?
Los Angeles, sunny beach resort – September 27
A lone wolf and a mysterious camerawoman are fighting a heavy torrent of plastic bottles falling from the sky after the horrible tornados of the past days. It costs him a tremendous effort to find his way to the garbage can. Just before the beach police arrives to give him a fine, or maybe not given his legal negotiation skills. Was there at least a message in the one and only bottle to save the planet from our litter?
Switzerland, September 16
In clean Switzerland, they had a double challenge: finding an area that still had litter near the office in Thoerishaus. The clean-up competition is high in our clean role-model nation in Europe, so the team was reinforced with the addition of waste searchers. For those who are not in the know, Alpacas have many talents. One of them is their distaste for waste and the people that dispose of it incorrectly. At least that’s what history tells us about the advanced environmentally focused Inca culture in the Andes mountains that disappeared six centuries ago.
Thanks to the strength of an office team of six with four additions (excluding the Alpacas), they were able to collect approximately six kg. The team had a few good eye-opening experiences with the waste that may still be found in an urban area in Switzerland. The number of units is more important than the weight here too. Cigarette butts were also the big source of frustration for our Swiss team.
Zagreb, September 28
The entire KGA team of ten people went on a clean-up excursion in the area around their new office. Clearly a move in the right direction since the waste they were able to collect was lower than expected. Zagreb is getting cleaner. Congratulations! Only 19.2 kg, weighed using the precision scale at the local supermarket. There is always a smart solution right around the corner if you have top talent on board.
Unfortunately, the clean-up had to be stopped when a gigantic spider showed interest in what we were doing and was not willing to move from its spot on its comfy umbrella in the dirty area. There’s still a dirty umbrella waiting for a volunteer to pick it up from the riverside. Something for next year, for sure!
Sometimes we find mysterious waste. Apparently, a group of partiers had to flee the park at the last minute, followed by a police team, leaving the pan, without the pancakes, and their shoes behind.
The most important thing however was the attention they got from the locals. Curious children were asking what they were doing, and other people expressed their appreciation for the team’s efforts. This is the way to create a communication ripple effect in a community! The awareness is growing, and it will end in a clean wave that nothing can stop except the absence of litter.
Warsaw, September 28
The entire office team of six highly motivated cleaning champions were present at the clean-up event. An area was carefully chosen to demonstrate what it’s all about, keeping trash out of our rivers. They chose the 66 km long Jeziorka river which is close to the office. It is the left tributary of the Vistula river, the largest river in Poland. With its naturally growing trees and shrubs along the river, it’s very popular within the local community. Canoe trips are organized on the river from spring to autumn. It’s a romantic spot in nature that is being destroyed by waste.
Not a surprise then that the whole team was very happy to take part in this project. They all believe with their heart and soul that it will make the river cleaner and the entire area more friendly and pleasant for local residents to explore. Sustainability also makes a positive contribution to the local community.
In addition to the fact that the entire team participated, the volume they collected was impressive: 170 kg, validated and certified, and that with a team of only six people (28 kg/person). That’s it in a nutshell: they beat all of the records.
Paris, September 19 to 23
For a full week, the Paris office team conducted an experiment with all every type of low emission means of transport for their commuting, and leaving nothing behind except their cars. Great pilot and learning experience; after all, we have no time to waste on waste and C0² reduction. Our commuting and business travel activities in the moving industry contributes to 250 tons of C0² so we clearly need different ways of commuting and working.
Croydon, September 23
The eight Gosselin green angels got a jump on the rest, and kicked off our clean-up actions, by working both in the field and online. The smart community liaison with the local council of Croydon and the NGO, Street Champions, helped with material support. They focused on the local park and discovered that shoes and furniture already appear to be mainstream garbage at parks. The need for action became even clearer when they found a globe. What a waste for our green planet!
The most frustrating thing they experienced was when they came across a camp of homeless people living in tents. Depending on your definition of value, either you see a lot of litter, recyclable essential goods or their only belongings that give them a sense of identity and belonging and it can be a painful wake-up call.
A terrifying moment occurred when the crew was cleaning the banks of the river. Is that what they think it is? In crime-free Croydon? No, it cannot be! Two shoes, upside-down, were sticking out of the mud of the river bank. Mustering all her courage, one of our clean-up champions took her picker and moved it under the shoe, eyes half-closed…nothing. The other one…also nothing. A huge relief. Our green angel started rooting around in the mud with her picker. Thankfully, there weren’t any legs attached to the shoes. You might be thinking this is an absurd horror story, but one of the champions working at another office told the organizer how her partner once found a real dead body during a clean-up activity in the past. Clean-up is an adventurous awareness-building activity. And with all of the excitement, we might almost forget that the team collected 35 kg of waste.
Bucharest, September 29
Thanks to Felix-Dumitru’s strong powers of persuasion, the Romanian team was composed of 23 clean-up volunteers. The volume and the type of waste was impressive. 250 kg was collected in less than two hours. Given the hygiene challenges they were facing during their clean-up in the Bucharest forest they were lucky they had the pickers. As a result, they collected a colorful collection of condoms, spare car parts, cookware, drinking bottles and more.
The team was enthusiastic about this sustainability activity, and thoroughly enjoyed the post clean-up and teamwork event. They look forward to another opportunity to participate. Many people reflected on the quantity of waste, circularity and reuse of materials, and on how wood could be transported more sustainably. Reintroducing old practices from the past can become the new innovative normal and might also be just in time with the no C0² trend.
Moscow, October 2
Navigating through the Russian mobilization, absences due to COVID and other illnesses and horrible weather conditions meant the clean-up had to be postponed a few days. However, they were so motivated that they arranged a clean-up to take place on a Sunday, 10 to 20 km outside of Moscow, near the river Klyazma, close to the towns Korolev and Schelkovo.
With the remaining team of three people they were able to collect an impressive volume of 84 kg of plastic and particularly many glass bottles, jars and drinking glasses. Courageous and convinced that all Russians should take the lead in participating in clean-up actions for their beautiful nature paradises.
Rome, September 29
Since the team in the Rome office will be moving to a new office soon, they wanted to set the example in their new neighborhood and do a clean-up in the nearby park. Stormy weather and rain, even in Rome this time of year, didn’t prevent the team of four from our small office from taking action. Collecting 24.6 kg they achieved a breakthrough. Their cleaning skills were highly appreciated in the city, and people in the streets started to give our team their garbage, in spite of the fact that they were wearing Gosselin uniforms. A lot of Italian explanation was required to tell them that the G stands for Gosselin and not Garbage.
Garbage bags seemed to be popular in Rome as well. A forgotten roll of bags left on a nearby wall was gone after the team returned to pick up the roll. What would be the weight score have been in Rome if the team had had these bags to fill?
Czechia, October 15
Petr and his team went tree planting in Liberec, 110 km from Prague, on the hillside of Ještěd, one of the most iconic mountains of Czechia. During the day, they planted one whole sector that was marked by professionals from the state-owned forest management company Lesy ČR. Petr and his team were planting beech trees only. In other sectors, fir trees were being planted.
Locations are chosen in places of dead monoculture of spruce trees and the objective is to switch back into a traditional mix of deciduous and coniferous trees of a larger variety. Such forests retain more water and are more resilient to parasites and landslides.
It was one of 14 regional events held by Lesy ČR on 15th October which is held annually under the name of "We are planting new generation forests".
Gosselin was founded in 1930 and employs 800 co-workers that generate more than 350 million euro in turnover. The headquarters of Gosselin are located at the Albert Canal in Antwerp, Belgium, and its inland terminal connects the port of Antwerp-Bruges with the European hinterland. The company has 56 offices in 34 countries and has a strong presence in Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Gosselin Group consists of two divisions: Gosselin Moving and Gosselin Logistics.
Gosselin Moving offers international moves for multinationals, expats, diplomats, military personnel and private persons.
Gosselin Logistics provides logistics services to businesses: transport solutions, customs formalities, warehousing and terminal operations, and industrial projects for heavy machinery and exceptional transport.