Everyone has a role in making the world a better place
David and Daniela joined forces to participate in the green living challenge announced by UNICEF, the Austrian Development Agency, and the Ministry of Environment of Armenia. Together they produced several videos about sorting waste.
David Kavkasyan and Daniela Halebyan live in Yerevan. David shoots videos professionally, while Daniela wants to become a TV presenter. They joined forces to participate in the green living challenge announced by UNICEF, the Austrian Development Agency, and the Ministry of Environment of Armenia. Together, David and Daniela produced several videos about sorting waste, which they shared on social media with their friends and followers. At the end of the challenge, they shared with UNICEF how they develop the ideas for their videos, what they learned during this process, and their thoughts on environmental issues in Armenia.
“Listening to people is important to understand the obstacles behind the problem.”
Daniela: The idea behind the videos was to shoot both people who sort waste and those who do not. We listened to both sides to show how to sort, why to sort, and what are the main obstacles holding people back from sorting. Once we shared these videos, I think people got the idea and came to their own conclusion why it’s important and what needs to be done, as well as what range of issues exist for people who want to sort.
David: Those who do not want to sort waste, describe all the problems in detail. Listening to these issues is important; it helps to find the right solutions. One of the cafe owners that we talked to, told us that they could not sort the waste, as there were no sorting bins in the community nearby and they could not move the garbage 1km away. On the other hand, we shot people who were able to overcome all these difficulties and start sorting, because they had a very high sense of motivation and determination.
“People’s minds should be changed.”
Daniela: Many people are truly not aware of or do not realise how climate change affects their lives. I think this should be taught at school. When people learn what challenges we face and what are the main steps we can take to prevent upcoming disasters, we will all be more alert and motivated to act. This initiative allowed me to learn about these issues at depth and understand how my lifestyle can contribute or solve these issues. I also learned how to interview and speak in front of the camera, but above all, I realised how important it is to be motivated.
David: These interviews led me to conclude that waste sorting is mostly done by enthusiasts in our country. They do it for the sake of their conscience. It’s impossible to force a person to sort waste if he still throws cigarette butts down in the street. People’s mind should be changed; they have to realise that their steps harm others directly or indirectly. We need to start from scratch as people still need to learn not to throw trash in the street. It may seem easy, but it takes a long time for people to reach that level of consciousness․
“Young people need to act to draw the attention of the public and the state to this issue.”
David: I have noticed that I’ve started to pay attention to many things lately. When I walk outside, I notice how dirty the streets and pavements are; this is the saddest thing. You realise that you do not want to be a part of this pollution. If there is no trash can nearby, I usually keep the small waste with me to throw it into a bin when I return home. But I find it difficult to ask a 40- to 50-year-old man why he threw rubbish on the ground. In my opinion, that approach will not change anything. He will continue doing the same, anyway.
We need other measures in place to make people get concerned. If you buy a bottle of water in Europe, you see on the label that you can get 25 cents back, thus you get interested in returning the bottle. Throwing cigarettes on the ground is punishable through fines in Europe. These measures instil good habits in people. In other words, we will not achieve serious changes without concrete actions taken by the state. However, young people need to act to direct the attention of the society and the state to these issues and make them realise that we need urgent solutions.
“Systemic solutions will unite people; they will understand their role and will review their actions.”
David: Of course, I know that when we ride a bike, we reduce air pollution. In practice, however, it often doesn't work just because our city is not adapted to cycling. Riding a bicycle is like attempting suicide in Yerevan. Our city is overloaded, it is not designed for so many cars and these cars emit hazardous gases that are not controlled and even prohibited. As a result, we breathe this polluted air. We need systemic solutions that unite people, help them understand their role and review their actions.
“People must recognise the danger of overconsuming water.”
David: Why should my mum have to overpay for water if I don’t turn off the tap while brushing my teeth? In general, saving water is a huge problem. Water is a very expensive resource nowadays. I have heard that it is possible to save about 200 litres of water simply by switching off the tap while brushing your teeth. I also filmed at Lake Sevan and learned that there are severe ecological problems there; actually, Sevan is in grave danger. All the experts are constantly talking about it. Many countries fight over water supplies, but people still do not fully realise this problem and continue wasting water. People must recognise the danger of overconsuming water. And maybe making videos about it is one of the ways to do that.
“Everyone can play a role in making the world a better place.”
David: I'm worried about the uncertainty about this issue that exists in the world today. I cannot imagine, for example, how my child will live on planet Earth. I do not know how I will live.
Positive changes can grow exponentially if, through some actions, many habits become "contagious" in society. If some bloggers start sorting waste and tell about it to their audience, others will follow lead.
Daniela: I am very excited about Greta Thunberg's movement. I understood that everyone could play a significant role in making the world a better place if they desire. That's why I got so excited about this local initiative. The topic is close to my heart. I hope that our messages will hit the target and encourage others to act.
David: We are ready to contribute to changing the situation. I can try to research and find out more and spread the word about solutions people need to hear about. I can help to amplify these messages in my network to get people to act but we all have a role to play in this process.