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Sasha, "Green generation" civil organization volunteer

"Since I’ve started diving into environmental issues, I adjusted myself to the ‘zero waste’ principle, and now I feel like my life has more purpose and my actions are more beneficial. That was one of the reasons to leave my job. Earning money and paying taxes did not fulfill me, so I searched for the right path. At first, there was an electric cars field, then – corporate social responsibility. Doing the good thing is much easier to prove your value. The sense of gradually affecting others comes as your colleagues start switching disposable coffee cups for regular ceramic ones. My husband gave me an organic waste converter as a New Year’s gift, and we stopped taking the garbage out entirely because there isn’t any of it left ever since. After I made a post on social media about the converter and worms, I’ve gotten many requests to come and see it firsthand. Does it smell? No, it doesn’t. Afterward, two other families started converting organic waste too.

I was raised in a conscious family to be Ukrainian-speaking and have correct views. My father has always been interested in Ukrainian history. Our family’s core values have been integrity and decency.

However, there was no time to think about ecology in my childhood. My father is the Director of the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry in NAN Ukraine. It sounds a bit odd, as my field of activity is ecology, and he’s the one who studies plastic. On the other hand, it’s fascinating to discuss biodegradable plastic with him, what can be recycled or not.

After graduation, I took a job at a hotel. We had a mandatory Responsible Business enrollment for the newcomers. We were getting accustomed to turning the lights off, alerting the service if there was a leak in the faucets, separating waste. Then my interest in eco-topics started increasing, and we set up a charging point for electric vehicles. Thanks to Facebook’s algorithms, Maryana Boyko’s lecture popped up in my feed last summer and completely changed the game. I was shocked to discover that all the waste that’s ever been produced by me STILL EXIST to this day. It remains somewhere, even though I’ve entirely forgotten about throwing it out. And that we don’t remember that people died at Lviv’s landfill because of ‘safe’ wastage.

I get that I won’t reach an idealistic goal of ‘world peace and a clean planet’ till my last day on Earth. However, if we don’t start making things up immediately, our children will have to meet the responsibilities of our present carefree lifestyle in the future.

Nordic countries have every other resident being either a volunteer or supporting a civic organization.

It has been almost a year since my three friends, and I created a ‘Green generation’ civic organization. Our goal is to reduce wastage in Ukraine. We read lectures in schools, kindergartens, companies, and housing complexes in every place with facilities, but no people know how to separate waste. We encourage cafeterias in Kyiv to give discounts to clients who bring their own cups. Those cafeterias are added to the list of Eco-friendly café projects and are shown on the map. There are a million disposable cups thrown out daily, taking only Kyiv, and they are not recycled. We’ve also come up with a map showing Ukrainian volunteers nearby so that active people could find like-minded ones in their city or town, create eco-projects together, set up renovation days, and support each other. It is how we push eco-culture forward. Not to mention, we constantly annoy our government by not letting it relax and just go with the flow. It’s no surprise that government remains idle. They think that everything is fine as long as nobody bothers them. They must comprehend the idea: guys, you won’t be in charge for long if you’ll remain indifferent.

If a zero-waste lifestyle speaks to you, at first, take a look inside your garbage bin and see what’s inside of it. You have to figure out what makes the wastage in your life, what you buy and get rid of. The bigger part would consist of wrapping and disposable things which could be refrained from. Try going shopping with only one cloth bag. Then, consider a bigger challenge – going shopping without any plastic bags at all. Sometimes I get fruits and vegetables delivered to my house, so I ask to put them into the empty banana boxes or wrapped in paper.

Another piece of advice is to read three books to get the basics of an eco-friendly lifestyle: the Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, and The Life-Changing Magic Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Currently, I try to live so that future generations would have a living standard that isn’t lower than ours. I want them to have access to recourses as we do and that they don’t have to sacrifice something due to our living beyond our means. Sustainable development only happens if the world’s state doesn’t decrease. Sticking to a sustainable lifestyle isn’t freaky. It’s a normal thing to do. I insist on it being an ordinary way of life, not a hobby. Every aware person should stick to being knowledgeable, consuming reasonably, and living eco-friendly. Consider the fact that the whole of Europe must take up waste conversation until 2023. Does it make them all freaks too?

Dirty t-shirt, dreadlocks tied in a ponytail. All this is repelling, so I wish to create another eco-activist idea. It should not be associated with dealing with garbage and disgust. I refer to primal instincts and make a positive idea of eco-awareness as something appealing and desired.

Do I lose my hope? Well, I fully understand that I simply avoid plastic bags. Meanwhile, oil production sites are installed in sanctuaries and the polluting environment with enormous emissions.

The number of airlines and shipments grows daily. You think of giving up from time to time, but then what? It’s necessary to make people comprehend that they can change the situation since the final consumer of any corporation is a regular person. It seems like there’s nothing you can do about it, but actually, that’s not correct – you can reject buying. You pay them with your own money. And, for a reason, slow living and downshifting are becoming popular, as they are the lifestyles which promote rejection from over-consumption and unsustainable profiting".

Oleksandra, "Green generation" civil organization volunteer


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