Meet our member-the Polish Zero Waste Association
Zero Waste Europe is pleased to introduce the blog series "Meet Our Members". Through this series of monthly interviews, we hope to give you the opportunity to learn about our members and the work they do.
Hi Virginie, can you briefly introduce the focus of work of the Polish Zero Waste Association?
The Polish Zero Waste Association (PSZW) is a young but dynamic organization. Our President Aleksandra Niewczas started to gather people interested in Poland's zero-waste lifestyle through Facebook three years ago. PSZW was officially established 2 years ago-we actually celebrated the anniversary of the association in March! The 15 members of PSZW are all volunteers. Indeed, the association currently has no employees, but this is definitely one of our goals. In addition to the official members of the association, we also manage national and local Facebook groups, gathering more than 70 000 members! We decided to focus our actions on zero-waste lifestyles and education to reduce waste generated by citizens and businesses. The PSZW plant has established a partnership with the Polish Earth Association (TNZ), an aspiring member of Zero Waste Europe, which aims to influence decision makers at the municipal level by opposing incineration and developing waste management solutions in Poland. We also carried out nationwide events, seminars, and held our first Zero Waste Festival in Krakow in April this year (yes!).
How long have you worked in this field and what caused you to fall into (zero) waste?
I have always been sensitive to nature and the environment, and I think my family has always been a rational consumer. However, about 4 years ago, we were really interested in reducing our environmental impact and starting our zero waste journey. I think our journey was smooth and fast, because when our children were young (they are now 7 and 9 years old), my husband and I are very interested and motivated, so it is relatively easy to change our mindset as individuals and actions A family. However, we suddenly discovered that completely "zero waste" is not as easy as changing our way of thinking. In fact, Poland does not and still does not have all solutions for zero waste. At the same time, I founded a small sustainable consulting company whose DNA is absolutely zero waste. Naturally, I joined PSZW from the very beginning.
What is your current role in the organization?
Since we still operate according to a 100% voluntary service model, I would say that all members have almost the same role: to raise awareness of waste reduction-most of the time in our city, but if necessary, we will also travel-through participation Events, seminars and contact the media or possible partners. Some members are also project/activity leaders. As for myself, like some other members, I am more in charge of media contacts and seminars, and I am often considered a "food waste expert" because I am a fierce food waste fighter.
Tell us more about an activity/event you are doing?
I would rather describe myself as a "generalist" rather than someone dedicated to a specific action or activity. I help promote a zero-waste lifestyle and make citizens and municipalities understand why it is vital to prevent waste generation in the first place instead of better recycling.
For every kilo, we generate at home-7 kilograms of waste was previously generated on the chain.
If you want your organization to be known for one thing, what would it be?
Well, we are already known for the great advertising space we participated in, claiming the "zero waste revolution"-the advertising space has been translated into English-you can watch: here!
In addition, I am very proud of the concrete achievements our young association has achieved, thanks to the highly loyal members that PSZW already has. I would also like to mention two truly successful campaigns that help teach us how to easily reduce waste: #WithMyOwnCup (#ZwlasnymKubkiem), Hello Wiello and Repair Café operations.
The #WithMyOwnCup campaign has persuaded more than 400 cafes across Poland to offer discounts to customers who buy coffee or tea and bring their own cups. For our zero-waste friends from other countries, this may seem like a trivial matter, but in Poland, even a year ago, it was difficult to have a drink with a reusable cup. Many cafes and restaurants not only do not understand why some customers do not want to use disposable cups, but are also afraid of hygiene control.
Hello Wiello is a seminar for future parents to promote reusable diapers.
PSZW also organized several very successful Repair Café conferences in Warsaw.
When people minimize disposable items "because... it is convenient!" I usually say: "The best waste is waste that has not yet been generated", or ironically at the same time "It is just a straw, say 50 Billion people.
How would you describe the development of the zero waste movement in your country?
What is your view of the future?
The zero waste movement in Poland is booming. marvelous! More and more people are interested in a lifestyle that reduces waste ("zero" waste may be overwhelming for most people at the beginning), and more and more companies are also interested in educating employees and using more sustainable ways Change some of their behaviors. Of course, we still have a long way to go, because the average awareness in Poland is still quite low, and at the political level, we really need change makers and people with a vision of building a circular economy and zero waste as a solution waste management . However, as an optimistic person, I have seen some countries-such as France-where the movement is very widespread, and we can really see the beginning of a bottom-up zero-waste revolution.Thank you very much, Virgenie! Can you share an inspirational quote with us?
Depending on the situation, I will mention inspiring quotes and impressive statistics that can help people understand why waste is a problem. I always end my speech or seminar by showing how we can change the world together.
Together we make the world a better place, even if it's just a straw at a time. The most important thing is to start!
You can find more information about the Polish Zero Waste Association and its work here.
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