Zero waste living in Vedi by Narek
Narek has joined UNICEF, Austrian Development Agency, and the Ministry of Environment in a green campaign calling for zero waste living.
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Narek Ohanyan is an environmental activist from Ararat region. He learned about climate change through various coursework and realised that he needs to act to solve these issues. Soon he established an eco-club in his community where young people came together around multiple environmental initiatives.
His goal is to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle. Narek has joined UNICEF, Austrian Development Agency and Ministry of Environment and uses his Instagram channel to talk about his idea of building a green planet.
“Pollution is a serious threat to humanity.”
It's not hard to notice that the Earth's climate is changing. For instance, this year, we had an abnormal winter, which was followed by an exceptional, scorching hot summer. All the farmers say that the harvest season has changed – many fruits and vegetables grow prematurely. These changes are becoming more and more significant. Pollution has a big impact on climate change and is a severe threat to humankind.
“Our message has an instant reach.”
I am happy to see that, today, many organisations have started to collaborate with young people to implement or advocate for preventive measures. I think young people are more open-minded and enthusiastic. Due to social media, we have a serious advantage and are more out there. Our pages are more active, and our posts can have an instant reach.
In addition, I gained technical skills in the photography and social media management sessions organized by UNICEF and am more confident now in managing my page and using tactics to reach more people.
“It is easier to convey your message through humour.”
I recently made a post with a picture of Gagik Surenyan, meteorologist, where he allegedly says, “Go on feeling the heat. I won't turn on the breeze until you start leading a zero-waste lifestyle.” This post received a lot of positive response because it was humorous. It is easier to convey your message through humour. Sometimes I imitate well-known quotes by politicians and celebrities, and through that I call on my peers to act and change their lives.
Many people are surprised by my posts; others write that this is the first time they have learned about these facts. One of my Instagram friends wrote that he had decided to sort waste after reading my posts. I offered him my help. This is one of the most impressive reactions I got during this project.
“People will change their mindset if they are informed.”
Stereotypes, indifference, and clashes of opinion are widespread on this issue. I try to talk a lot with my friends and family about this topic, and it helps. For example, one day on our way back home from school me and my friend got snacks. After we ate them, I noticed that my friend wanted to throw away the paper packaging. We started discussing pollution and how that small piece of paper will affect the environment.
My friend became very interested in this topic. He has done his bit of research and thinking. Now he is a member of the eco-club and is deeply interested in environmental issues. People can and will change their mindset if they are informed. At the eco-club, we organize online seminars and courses primarily for young people, although I think we should involve different age groups. For example, when my parents were young, there was a lack of information about these things.
“Our actions are drops, but the ocean that will solve these problems consists of these drops.”
I used to compost our food leftovers. When I got very busy with school, I noticed that my father continued my work and it made me very happy. In the past, we used to burn dried grass. Now we arrange it around the trunks of the trees, which reduces the need for watering.
Maybe our actions are merely drops, but the ocean that will solve these problems consists of these drops. Climate change is a global issue that affects us all. Everyone must unite, act, and must be sincere in what they do.
“If you consider yourself a climate activist, you need to stay true to your principles.”
Climate change activists are not perfect, nor idealists. I am just an ordinary person who has decided to make a small contribution to creating a better world. However, our actions become meaningless if you say ‘compost your food’ but then you throw our own food into the trash, or when you say ‘do not buy groceries with extra packaging’ but then buy it yourself.
Consumer critic Anna Mario Bonno said: “We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” I agree with this opinion. If at least one other person decides that he will not use plastic after this project or will start sorting waste, that is victory to me. It would be wonderful if millions of people made such decisions.
“By protecting nature, we are defending our homeland.”
After this campaign, I have decided to continue promoting zero-waste living in my community. With like-minded people, we will create a network of young people from nearby rural and urban communities. Together we will learn how to give a second life to waste. We plan to make magnets from flowers, souvenirs from plastic, toys, and other items. This will continue until we reach our desired zero-waste lifestyle.
I hope people won't forget that they are a part of nature. Nature is what makes everyone whole. When people harm nature both directly or indirectly, they, first of all, hurt themselves.
My message to Armenians is the following: “By protecting nature, we are defending our homeland.” Sometimes you do not need to do great things. If we make our place better, we will have a powerful, green homeland and, eventually, a planet. To achieve this goal, I learn, I teach, I act.