Thousands of Bhutanese participated in a mass cleaning campaign yesterday. Children as young as three were seen tagging along their parents and elders, picking up waste lying by the roadsides and drains. There were powerful people. There were powerless people, too. There were civil servants, bureaucrats, shopkeepers, labourers and expatriates, among others. All with a determination make places where they live clean, healthy and beautiful.

What this collective effort resulted in was indeed amazing. The gullies and alleyways looked different. Our cities and towns looked beautifully clean. So did our villages homes. What was more remarkable was the sense of happiness and satisfaction writ large on the faces of the people after the campaign. In less than an hour, tonnes of waste were collected. Cleaning our pathways and city streets, our backyards and the many parks we have is everybody’s responsibility.

There was a lesson that everyone took home yesterday: If everyone could be a little more mindful and cared enough, there wouldn’t be papers and plastics flying around; our drains and conduits wouldn’t be choked and overflowing and e wouldn’t be dumping our household and other waste by the roadsides. Too, our landfills would not be bursting at the seams, endangering our environment and the many little lives that have made it their home. Our water wouldn’t be poisoned and our crop yields wouldn’t decrease by the year.

Our children are concerned too that waste could be a serious problem to society. This is a good sign of development. What our teachers and parents are doing, teaching our children about cleanliness, waste and their effects, is something that truly deserves our praise. Our children must grow up with the idea that where they live must be not only clean but also safe and beautiful. It is about changing the way we live. It’s a kind of revolution.

And we can certainly do more. We can clean our surroundings everyday without government having to set aside a special day for cleaning. It begins from home. If we can keep our homes clean, waste will not fly out on the streets. We have now begun to take responsibility. Let us do it everyday.