Author: Oksana Bondar, PLEDDG Regional Coordinator in Vinnytsia region
“How to have an interesting vacation time and raise local citizens’ environmental awareness?” – this is what the ecology club members know for sure. The club was created at the family reading library as part of the project “Solid domestic waste separation is the key to a clean Zhmerynka” implemented with support from PLEDDG Project. Today, on July 17, more than 30 local youngsters came to the library. Thanks to the project, they have already learned how to sort household waste, and their role-model calls all town residents for using less plastic and promotes using coloured tote bags as a good alternative thereto.
In 2018, Zhmerynka City Council received a financial grant from the Democratic Governance and Development Initiatives Support Fund as part of PLEDDG Project and is currently implementing a project aimed at putting sorting and separate waste collection activity into practice as well as developing Zhmerynka citizens’ environment preservation skills. The youth and budget sector employees have become the project’s pathfinders.
Anatolii Konoval, Head of Economic Department, said that “the PLEDDG Project’s funds have been spent for purchasing containers for sorting of plastic, glass, and paper, which have been placed at 26 institutions of the town: the municipal council, all kindergartens, schools, libraries, and other budget organizations. These institutions have agreements on removal of the collected and sorted waste. At our schools, students are empowered with independent decision making on how to spend the proceeds earned after removal of the sorted waste. Thus, an ecology club was created based on the Family Reading Library, which helps to push townsfolk for household waste management. More than 20 events have been held so far: trainings, practical seminars, themed on-site excursions, eco-masterclasses, with more than 1000 schoolchildren having taken part therein. It is the third masterclass on tote bag painting given today. Local development, which is both an important and complicated area of activity, covers a wide range of various processes, including waste management. Self-governance bodies shall focus on creating a favourable climate for development of sustainable use of the community’s resources. It is paramount to engage the community members, especially young people, in SDW management, because they share their knowledge with their families and friends. This contributes to building ecological culture, resource saving, community participation in decision making process, and predetermines acceleration in local development.
Young Zhmenrynka citizens use special paints for textile painting and tell the newcomers about the importance of waste sorting. They also share the information about increased cost effectiveness of this activity for the town and its benefits to environmental preservation. Mariika Hutsaliuk, a 9-year old active eco-club member, is drawing some coloured containers on her tote bag, saying: “It is very interesting for me to spend time in eco-club, as I am taught life here! Now I always remove rubbish both after myself and other people and I tell my close people how to sort waste correctly and which containers we should thrown it in”.
Anastasiia Sheremeta, an eleventh-grader, explains her participation in today’s ecological masterclass: “With our example, we want to encourage Zhmerynka citizens to sort waste, save resources, and avoid using plastic bags, and we call them for using tote bags which are more durable. We inspire others to make our country cleaner! We have such containers at school, and we even bring waste from home there. And we have spent the money earned after SDW removal for creating a very cool photo zone!”.
“Thanks to PLEDDG Project, we have premises for eco-club gatherings, fitted out with furniture and necessary equipment. Our visitors have become more involved in environmental concerns. A key change to have happened to the community, as I see it, is a mental shift in local citizens’ behaviour, as there is less garbage on the streets, it is being sorted”, — Valentyna Dumen, a librarian, said.
Very soon, on August 4, as part of the Zhmerynka Day celebration, everyone who wishes will have an opportunity to join masterclasses on tote bag painting as well as informational and educational events on SDW sorting. Welcome!”.