In this episode of the EarthRights Podcast Series Two, Pippa and Mel are in discussion with Vlada Melnychuk and Olja Brusko, two climate activists from Ukraine, who formed Zero Waste Society Ukraine.
The discussion starts with #FridaysForFuture Movement, which began in August 2018, after Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every day for three weeks and their strike went viral. Since then, Vlada and Olja have been organising strikes of this kind in Ukraine, particularly Kyiv, with over 2000 participants.
Vlada and Olja then explain some of the challenges they have faced in trying to motivate people, including their families and friends, to start thinking about climate change. At a systemic level, the infrastructure in Ukraine does not currently provide for proper recycling or waste disposal, which they say is frustrating.
With Zero Waste Society and other NGOs, Vlada and Olja are creating tools and templates for consumers to feel empowered to demand change from producers, such as stopping the use of single-use plastics. They have also been working with producers and local authorities to start designing measures that adopt circular-economic principles.
"We want to tell consumers that they have the power to make a change when they vote with their wallet." (Vlada)
EarthRights, along with Vlada and Olja, encourage consumers to contact producers directly:
"Of course you should use your reusable coffee cup, but I would also like to say, write to the producer, speak to the shop... if a few people start to do this then people will listen and that's when changes happen." (Olja)