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Tara and the Magic Tree: a journey in the world of zero waste

Tara and the Magic Tree: A Journey in a World of Zero Waste

In a country far away from the concrete jungle in the suburbs, on a windy and rainy night, there happened to be a nest of a thousand owls to the west, and a 3-hour butterfly flight to the east... We saw Tara for the first time.

Tara is a clear-headed little girl, and her name is named after a river to make this a reality.

In fact, Tara is the heroine of the newly published book "Tara and the Magic Tree", which is an ecological story that teaches everyone the basics of the concept of zero waste.

This week, we had the honor to interview Alexandra Aubertin, who is not only the founder of Montenegro Zero Waste and a member of the board of directors of Zero Waste Europe, but also the book director of this wonderful work.

Hi Alexandra, can you briefly introduce yourself: How long have you worked in this field and what caused you to fall into (zero) waste?

I have been involved in garbage disposal for about ten years and I find it very addictive! There is always a new way to motivate people and communities to reduce waste, and it is always worth seeing the results. What made me go to waste was to visit a trash can in Phnom Penh, Cambodia-it was an exciting experience. A few years later, I was working on recycling issues in Kenya. If you want to know more, you can read my blog post here. 🙂

Tell us more about what inspired you to create this book and how it was made?

Well, of course, educating children about their relationship with waste is essential for cultivating future environmentally conscious citizens. In Montenegro, where I am currently, there is almost no education on this subject, and there is no available material to educate children in their native language. One day, a good friend of mine told me: "Well, why don't you write a book about zero waste with your social enterprise?" It all started like this...

Re-examining the background-Four years ago, I founded a social enterprise to help disadvantaged communities in Montenegro and it is possible to showcase beautiful products made entirely from waste. So we decided to let these characters live in the story of this book.

I want to make it a high-quality work of art, and I have the opportunity to be with the best artists: Zarko Vucinic turned the concept into the story of this book, and 10 young artists from the National Academy of Art contributed to this book The book provides illustrations. This book has been translated into English because we hope that children from all over the world can enjoy this exciting and inspiring story about how we can actively participate in our community to reduce production and The amount of littering.

"Tara and the Magic Tree" is primarily a book for children, but-in the final analysis-it is also a lesson for adults to raise awareness of waste, isn't it?

Indeed, since the story is quite detailed, we have received feedback from many parents who also like to read this book! So we realized that it is not only an ideal tool to ignite ecological sparks in the hearts of children, but also has the same impact on parents who read this book to them! We don’t want to tell children what to do/not to do, we want to write an inspiring story to inspire children to take simple measures in life to reduce waste, and to make them keen to take action in their lives. , Their sports club, or simply stay at home with family. This story has many twists and turns, beautiful poems and riddles to solve, and some interesting facts about trees and forests (because the author is also a forest engineer)!

What do you think are the main challenges that actually change the way we currently handle waste?

I think one of the main challenges is that we are in this triangle relationship where everyone blames each other and no one is willing to take responsibility. The company accuses consumers of manufacturing and littering. People accuse companies of not giving them enough sustainable and zero waste options, and their governments have not adequately supervised companies and citizens in terms of waste management. The government accuses citizens of littering or not properly sorting their waste, and the company has not more actively restricted the waste they generate in the production process. The solution lies between the two. Each party is responsible for their actions, but how to do this? In our society, it is really difficult to build awareness and persuade people/companies/governments to take environmental protection into consideration when acting instead of greed or permanent growth.

This is a modern story, not only ecologically distorted, but also socially meaningful. Can you tell us more about ZNUGGLE? It is an important part of the project, and has the magic (SPOILER ALERT) life to make Tara's friends look back?

Yes, this is why this book is so unique: all the characters in the book actually "exist"-they are made of wool from women who live in wooden huts in the mountains of northern Montenegro and are called "katuns". Traditionally, women used to knit or crochet clothes with their own sheep’s wool, but hand-washing, carding, and spinning raw wool is a rather intensive process. Therefore, this tradition gradually disappears and the wool begins to be thrown away in trash cans or rivers, or often Burn in nature. As a social enterprise, Znuggle is providing jobs for women with limited resources: they process the rescued wool by hand and dye it with plants, berries or onion skins that they have also rescued. The result is a beautiful plush toy, completely handmade, ecological and zero waste! Each piece is a unique piece of art, because it takes 10 to 18 hours to make a toy.

What is your reaction to this book? What kind of impact do you want to see?We have received a lot of positive responses from adults and children. In fact, many of our parents request this book to be a must-read book in school. Our hope is to create sparks in children’s minds. Our dream is to hear young people contact us 10 years later and say: “Because of Tara and the Magic Tree, I became an environmental activist/professional”. 🙂

The book "Tara and the Magic Tree" won the Best Children's Book Award 2019 by the "Children Writers Association" of Montenegro and the "Lukijan Mušicki" Literature Award of the "Sunčani breg" Literary Association of Serbia. It is currently nominated for the prestigious 2020 Little Prince Award.

Do you want to experience the story of Tara? Read the first 3 chapters for free here. Want more, get a copy of this book and learn more about Tara's world here.

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