Pokemon Go Clean Up May Retrospect

For those of you who are new in the loop, Niantic and Playmob partnered with NGO’s and Non-Profit Organizations around the world for Earth Day, which became Earth Month because Earth Day fell on a Monday this year. According to their blog, the event had:

  • 176 NGO hosted events & 300 player hosted events
  • 41 countries & 6 continents
  • 17,000 players volunteered 41,000 hours
  • 145 tons of trash was collected

Partnered with 46 NGOs

Lovelstzy Association was the first Non-Profit Organization in Switzerland to partner with Niantic and The Pokemon Company for this event. We also just had a post-Earth Day event on the 9th of May and had a lot of fun. Not even the thunderstorms going on wouldn’t stop us from cleaning the street.

The events inspired some people in the US as well to do something. Using the footage from the event, we created the lip sync video with Jason Paige’s original Pokemon Theme Song. We are now inviting others to join in and contribute their short videos of cleaning up trash and lip syncing. Sounds like a neat idea right? Read on to the end of the page for more details if you want to make a difference in the world.

Anyway, back to the event, so this is how it went…

We parked nearby thanks to Zurich Park AG who sponsored us with a spot so that would easily transport trash at the end. In close proximity, we arrived at Zurich HB, the largest train station in the country.

Holding up a Pikachu and a Pokéball plush in the air to signal volunteers to come. As I waived, I had some interesting looks. They ranged from confused, to smiles. As kids passed, they giggled and pointed. One man even came up and professed his love for Pokemon games!

Co-Organizer Rocco Brizzante arrived and shared an interesting perspective. He said that Pokemon Go players come from all walks of life, from kids to business people and people who would normally not have anything to do with each other would find common ground just from knowing each other play Pokemon Go. It was true! I looked around and there were people in suits smiling when they saw the Pokémon!

We soon handed out trash bags that were sponsored by The City of Zurich and we all left to embark on our #PokemonGOCleanUp Adventure, the wind blowing like crazy. We started picking up the large amounts of trash around the bike racks nearby and ran into someone hired by the city to clean trash. We weren’t sure how he would react to us, but he told us he was happy for the extra help.

We headed towards the local park. Rocco told us another story about how Zurich really cleaned itself up over the last couple decades and that it wasn’t always so well kept. They implemented a lot of programs to help people with drug addictions who made the park their home base. It was hard to imagine since the park generally looked so perfect now. At this point, the sun started to shine more which was a relief

. The river went along the park and had some trash displaced around it. We picked up trash as we went along and found some Pokestops as well that we could spin. During the trash cleanup, there was a special event in Pokemon Go where special Pokemon appeared from the new Detective Pikachu Movie. A Charizard showed up on our radar appeared at the end of the park, which was perfect since we were going in that direction anyway.

After we all caught it, we saw that there was a raid going on nearby with a Mesprit, a legendary lake Pokemon. We began the trek to get there and continued to pick up litter on the way. When we arrived, Rocco pulled out a bunch of phones to our surprise. He said he plays with different accounts, it reminded me of Uncle Pokemon.

Chen San-yuan “Uncle Pokemon” Image Credit: BBC

The storm started to get stronger which perfectly matched the challenge in the game. We began the raid, but soon after some other random person asked if they could join too. We stopped the raid and all of us rejoined and together accomplished our goal of getting the Mesprit and in turn received many in-game rewards. We explained to the new ally that we’re doing a Pokemon Go themed trash cleanup together, they were intrigued but too busy to join now.

We parted ways with the new player and headed towards the bus station where another volunteer arrived who couldn’t come earlier. The bus station was much cleaner than the last time we came. At our last event on April 22nd, the place was a garbage disaster. We spoke and realized it was probably because April 22nd was a 3 day weekend and no one was hired to clean it.

We all agreed it was time to head towards the Langstrasse, one of the dirtiest areas in Zurich, and an area we tackled on our last event as well. As we trekked Rocco and Amiya, another volunteer and born citizen explained that unlike the park which was completely revitalized, the Langstrasse despite its current condition, used to be really a lot worse, but the city again took great measures to clean it up and not just trash-wise. However, on the bright side, they said that more recently the area is becoming more of a hip place for youth to party and spend their time, which is slowly transforming the area again.

After cleaning up even more trash, we arrived finally at Hiltl Langstrasse, a beautiful and industrial themed oasis. Hiltl is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. They are also was one of the sponsors of this event as well as the last one and offered all volunteers a yummy discount.

We all headed downstairs to wash our hands and then came up to fill our plates. It was already almost 6 pm and the Detective Pikachu Pre-Screening organized by Hueginus and Chris Eve was soon starting.

We promptly arrived at 6:30 pm as instructed to pay for our tickets from the Organizers and went to find a seat inside the theater. A special Pokemon box prize was found under a lucky seat someone sat on and after a short announcement, the film started.

And WOW what a great film. They really outdid themselves for the Detective Pikachu, no wonder it made more than its budget in only the first weekend.

Once it finished we collected the bags we hid behind a large track bin in the alley and made it back to the parking garage area near the Zurich HB. Thank goodness Zurich Parking gave us a space for the event. It would have been a serious schlepp to walk too far with all that trash.

We traveled back home and later sifted through the trash to separate recyclables, such as cans, plastic and glass bottles.

For me, events like this are the future. In my book “The Future of Charity – The Pokemon Generation” this is exactly the subject I speak of. The future of charity is not based on donations, the future of charity is based on the gamification of positive social and environmental action.

Let’s take the theme of this particular trash cleanup focus with Niantic and The Pokemon Company for Earth Day. People leave their trash on streets, beaches, parks and other public places. Then other people get together to clean it up. But this isn’t sustainable, the littering in general needs to stop. Our oceans are so polluted that animals like whales are washing up on shores with 40kg of trash in their stomach!

I feel responsible for the well-being of our planet, don’t you? As a human who’s home planet is slowly being more unlivable day by day, how can we not do something? Niantic and The Pokemon Company are definitely going in the right direction. The next step that I see is that these Earth Day events can be done on a monthly basis like the current Pokemon Go Community Day.

They could continue using the same map and system for people to find Non-profits who are doing these events with Playmob and then measure the trash as they did for this event. Another possibility is that trainers can register via the game and then non-profits with a special account can verify their participation. If rewards could be given out the same day, or the following day for participating cities, that could give other cities an incentive to get more involved. Sound like a good idea right?

This year and the last, the participants earned the rewards for the entire world, but that also means that those who didn’t participate got rewarded for something they didn’t do and that’s not really satisfying. That’s like playing a game and then winning before you even start! Keep in mind, this is only the beginning as this is only the second year of an Earth Day Event that Niantic / The Pokemon Company has done.

I’m sure as time goes on that the process will become more streamlined and interesting for participants. We must give them credit as well. They agreed for the first time to do their first post-earth day Trash Cleanup with our Non-Profit, Lovelstzy Association. If you’re a reader and would like to see more charity events on a monthly basis, raise some noise on Twitter with @Nianticlabs.

They are listening, fans made some noise in 2016 for Niantic to make a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go. It took them a few years but they are finally rolling out Wizards Unite later this year with an even more dynamic real-time action system using the same Augmented reality technology. Again, make some noise, they are listening…

Oh! If you liked the video and want to make the world a better place, don’t forget to check out our #PokemonGoCleanUp Lip Sync Challenge.

We’re also giving out to the first 50 people The Future of Charity The Pokemon Generation. a $9.99 value, yours Free.

Click on Pikachu For The Lip Sync Challenge and Free e-Book!

Nicolas Radcliffe is a Published Author, Music Composer, and Co-Founder of LoveLsTzy® Association, a non- profit organization based on Lake Zurich (Stäfa) in Switzerland. As one of the worlds leading experts on innovating the non-profit sector, his passion is to solve global problems using gamified technology and community-based activities. He outlines this in his book “The Future of Charity – The Pokémon Generation”

Nicolas Radcliffe