The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

27 January 2007

All about Litter

“In my spare time I clean mountains.” – Rob the Rubbish

Robin Kevan is a 61-year old retired social worker. His big issue is litter Some people just accept that people litter the streets and the countryside. Others might moan about it or ring up the Council and ask them to do something about it. Not Rob. He decided to do something himself.

Almost every day, Rob goes out first thing in the morning to pick up litter in the town where he lives, Llanwrtyd Wells, armed with gloves, a pick-up stick, yellow jacket and black bin bags.

After breakfast he sets out in his car to pick up the litter that visitors have left on the surrounding mountains.

Word of Rob’s His “mad” litter-picking activity began to spread. He became known as “Rob the Rubbish”. Rob started to receive invitations to clean up other mountains – Snowdon, Wales’s highest; Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest; and the Everest base camp.

Rob is even thinking of franchising the name “Rob the Rubbish” so that people all over the world can join him in his mission to make a cleaner world.

“If I got angry about litter, I’d be a very grumpy man.”

“I started off in a small way in my little town just picking litter up in my own street, and then gradually moving out to do the whole of my town right up to its boundaries, and then around the area. When I disappeared up Ben Nevis, and realised that in two days I could clear the whole of half the mountain on my own, I began to recognise the kind of power that I had as an individual to change things and to do something about something that appears to be an overwhelming problem for all of us. We all look at litter and say ‘Isn’t it awful! It’s awful. Nobody can ever do anything about it. The Council should be doing this. Everybody else should be doing that.’ Actually, I went out and just did it.” – Robin Kevan speaking on Saturday Live, Radio 4, 27th January 2007

The Littermovement is based in Finland. Their idea is for everyone to pick up one piece of litter per day and also invite one other person to do the same. Take a look at their website:

Advice from Bill Gates

Bill Gates is not only the world’s richest man, he is also the world’s biggest philanthropist. He has funded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with part of his fortune from Microsoft, and this has been supplemented with a huge gift from Warren Buffett, the “Sage of Omaha” whose own fortune came from investment management. One of the Gates Foundation’s big successes was its investment in the GAVI Alliance (the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation) to make a significant impact on child mortality.

One fear is that individuals can do very little alongside the likes of Bill Gates and his multi-billion dollar philanthropy or governments and their aid contributions. Not so says Gates, who makes two suggestions:

“I’d love for people to pick a cause that helps poor people around the world. They can pick vaccination [like I have done]; or they can pick something they feel passionate about”.

Even a small contribution can make a difference to somebody’s life. And lots of people doing this can make a huge difference. Arguably tens of millions of people contributing smaller amounts can make an even bigger difference than the Gates Foundation and start to build a popular movement for greater economic justice in the world.

“As a voter, people can make sure they are thinking about these issued when they are electing politicians, who both in terms of scale and cleverness can make sure that government aid is given in the most effective way.”

The G8 Summit in 2005 committed member states to move towards giving 0.5% of their gross national income to aid the poorest countries. The challenge now is to make sure this happens, and to put pressure on governments and politicians to ensure that aid is spent effectively.

One challenge that Bill gates could take up is to bring together his leadership in IT and philanthropy to develop mechanisms that enable people to engage more closely with the issues and problems that they want to put their money towards and to see the impact they are having on the beneficiaries they are supporting. IT has the potential to create new and more exciting alternatives than simply giving to a big international aid agency.

If you want to write to Bill Gates about this, then contact him at: or

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

The GAVI Alliance:

21 January 2007

Get Personal

The twin technologies of the internet and digital printing now make it possible to produce short-run t-shirts, calendars, mugs and even books at unbelievably cheap prices.

So here are three ideas.

1. A great way to say thank you
Produce a personal calendar, with your message on the front and with 12 full-colour illustrations, one per month, with somebody’s name in fireworks lighting up the sky, written in sand on the beach, spelt out in a topiary hedge, in the clouds, etc. etc. This costs just £14.95; you can choose A4 to hang on the wall or desktop size; the 12-month year can start with any month; and the calendar can be with you in 5 days.

Or you can produce your calendar with a message such as SAVE THE WHALE or EAT ORGANIC.

You can also produce personalised mugs for £9.95.

Use these as gifts to say thank you to your trustees or to a valued adviser or supporter…or to someone who has been an important influence on you… or to a teacher… or to anyone deserving of a big thank you.

2. A short-run book
Using you can publish a book in electronic or printed form. If you opt for printed copies, you need not produce more than a single copy.

Next time you are asked to give a talk, produce a book or pamphlet of your talk, even with a nice cover and illustrations. Wave it around as you speak. You will be an instant expert.

Or do the same for any subject you are passionate about. Collect together facts and figures, world-changing ideas, case studies of people who are doing something, set out a manifesto for change. Write a press release and send out review copies. People can order it off the LuLu website either in printed or electronic formats. You don’t need to do anything to fulfil orders, and you can even collect a royalty.

Produce your own book by uploading text and illustrations, and then designing it yourself on the LuLu website:

3. Put it on your chest
Produce personalised t-shirts, with a message. There are a range of fonts to choose from. Upload your own images or select something suitable from a gallery. Create your own design for the back as well as he front. Then choose the colour and size of a “Fruit of the Loom” brand t-shirt, and order one or several.

From £11 per t-shirt. Order from: