Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine
Interview with Anastasiia Martynenko by Rossella Recupero
Hi Anastasiia, can you give us a brief introduction to Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine‘s focus?
Our Alliance was registered at the beginning of 2019 by three NGOs: Zero Waste Kharkiv, Zero Waste Society (Kyiv) and Zero Waste Lviv. We have united to represent Ukraine in the Zero Waste Europe Movement (ZWE) in order to receive access to the best zero waste practices, share our experience and contribute to the creation of a zero waste future.
All three organizations work on zero waste, but they focus on different fields:
- Zero Waste Kharkiv is working mostly on EcoHubs, education and zero waste cities program (in Liubotyn city). In 2020, they have launched Zero Waste Academy in Ukraine.
- Zero Waste Lviv works closely with the Lviv municipality. Thanks to their work and support of ZWE, Lviv became the first city outside of the EU that committed to become a zero waste city. Zero Waste Lviv also works to promote composting and reusable options in the hospitality sector.
- Zero Waste Society (Kyiv) is the NGO where I work. We are working with businesses to push them towards reusable solutions, as well as on education, climate change and anti-incineration. Last year we concentrated our work on the brand-audit and our work on the #WeChooseReuse campaign with our colleagues from the Alliance.
How long have you been in the field and what got you into (zero) waste?
I have been actively working in the field of zero waste for more than 3 years. In general, my environmental activism actively started after the revolution in Ukraine in 2014 and the beginning of a war with Russia. It all started when I created a box for collecting batteries in my apartment block, but quickly it turned out in a campaign to collect paper in my district (we were selling paper and with the money, we were buying medicaments for the injured soldiers). After that, I was ready to move into the city, being sure that I could do more. With that intention, I have met the “right” people and with them, I have created a wonderful team!
What is your current role in the organization?
Currently, I’m the head of the organizations Zero Waste Society and Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine for almost two years, but soon we will have our biennial general meeting, where there will be a new election for a the head of the organization and we will be working on the rules to accept new members into the Alliance (we often receive applications).
Tell us more about one ongoing campaign/activity you’re working on?
Our Alliance has a few ongoing campaigns: Zero Waste Cities, WeChooseReuse, anti-incineration work. Also, we support global campaigns and promote them at the local level – such as #Еnvironmenstrualweek, Plastic Bag-Free Day or Plastic Free July.
If I need to choose one, it would be “WeChooseReuse”. All three organizations have planned different activities, mostly concentrated on communications. We will “talk” about reuse business cases, and how can municipalities and individuals support this shift.
If there was one thing that you would like your organization to be known for, what would it be?
For creating a strong and big zero waste community in Ukraine! Happily, our Alliance consists of three co-founders that are experts in their own fields, so we may be known for at least three things.
Everything is possible when you believe and act!
How would you describe the growth of the Zero Waste movement in your country? What is your perspective for the future?
The movement has been actively growing for the last 2 years. As it was probably in many countries – people see separate collection as a solution first and then, with time, they come to zero waste as a real solution (well, some don’t)
We still have to communicate a lot about the difference between “zero waste” that is promised by corporations (sort out, or even incinerate your waste to save the planet) and “true zero waste” (which is the 5R concept with Refuse, Reduce and Reuse options before Recycling and no incineration included).
My vision is that the movement will only continue to grow. Firstly, because more and more people want to reduce their own environmental footprint or even create change by pushing companies and policy-makers. And secondly, because it’s nearly impossible to ignore the problems connected with our production and consumption.
How is the current COVID-19 pandemic impacting your work?
As for the internal impacts – we haven’t seen each other for quite a long time. I believe that regular offline meetings are strengthening the organization, so we hope to renew this practice soon.
As for our projects and campaigns – we have to communicate more about the safety of reusables over single-use, which is a challenge itself. Of course, there is also more waste, especially PPE (masks, gloves, etc.). But this is also a great opportunity for activists like us to communicate the urgency and create changes. And each of us has the power to do it, at least with our own wallet.