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ECOnnecting the World

Recycling becomes a necessity rather than a novelty, the importance of transforming waste into value-added products will become more and more vital to life, therefore our primary objective is to improve the level of skills and key competencies for 35 young people in the regions less developed, including those with fewer opportunities, to promote their participation in Europe’s greening actions.

  • Date: 28.08.2021 – 04.09.2021
  • Where: Corbeni, Romania
  • Project Type: Erasmus+ Youth Exchange

About this Project

The overall objective of the ECOnnecting the World project was to increase the selective collection rate of waste in specially designed places.
We set out the following objectives:
1.   Increasing young people the level of ecological education.
2. Raising awareness and awareness among participants about the proper storage of waste and its selective collection.
3.  Involving of local decision-makers from the 4 local communities on the lack of education of community members on ecology and recycling and the importance of activities supported on this topic.
4.   Increase the level of ecological education in local communities.

Partners

  • Asociatia “ARYAS” – Romania
  • I LIKE CZERSK – Poland
  • Youthtopia – Greece
  • ASSOCIAZIONE CULTURALE BEYOND BORDERS CORATO – Italy
  • Latvian Association for Youth Activists – Latvia

The project idea started following a study that Association Aryas conducted in the local community, but also at the national level (Argeș, Bucharest, Vâlcea, Brașov, Prahova). The sample consisted of 150 people aged between 18 and 40 years old. The results of the study were:

  • over 90% of the participants in the study did not selectively collect waste;
  • about 50% of them did not realize the importance of selective collection;

Our study can be confirmed by European statistics from Eurostat. Here we can see that countries such as Malta, Italy, Greece, Poland, Latvia and Romania have problems in reaching the recycling rate of at least 50% of waste by 2020. 

Thus, the problem we identified was represented by the random dumping of waste, in not suitable places, cumulated with a very low level of selective collection among the population.

The main causes of this problem are:

  • lack of ecological education;
  • lack of awareness of the benefits of waste recycling;
  • lack of materials to help inform and raise awareness in local communities;
  • the lack of studies at the local level that raises awareness and informs the community;

Effects:

  • a high level of air pollution;
  • the unpleasant smell of air, untidy appearance of cities, degradation of green spaces (especially in Curtea de Argeș)
  • increased risk of infection and disease for children who spend time in the playgrounds or natural areas in which there is waste;
  • a high level of water pollution (Example: oil in the groundwater)

Through the project ”ECOnnecting the World”, we have approached the pollution problem so that the results appear at the individual level, and the change is visible through the action of each participant directly or indirectly.

Damian Minculescu

Project Coordinator

During the project, the participants developed workshops that developed their knowledge about ecology and sustainability, but also their management, facilitation and communication skills.

Workshop 1: Awareness of the balance between ecology / recycling and today's society. The effects of excessive recycling. The effects of extremism in ecology.

The objectives of this workshop were to find out what the notions of ecology and recycling mean and what is their importance in today’s society. This activity also aimed to determine the positive effects of recycling in a world that produces more than is needed and where resources are wasted to increase individual comfort. The Greek group, responsible for preparing this workshop, addressed first the issues related to the definition of the terms ecology and recycling.

Workshop 2: Environmental legislation - European and national level

The Latvian group, responsible for preparing this workshop, identified the main tools governing environmental standards at the European level. They set up working groups to research the main laws in the field of ecology and recycling and whether or how they apply at the national and local levels. The participants presented the ideas and aspects they have thought of on paper and through PowerPoint presentations. The objective of this workshop was to increase the participants’ knowledge about the legislative frame. Each team presented the laws applied by their countries in order to protect the environment or to fight against pollution. The participants understood the importance of applying these laws because they got to see the differences between well-developed countries like Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and countries that have a poor implementation of such rules like Romania, Italy, Greece, Malta.

Workshop 3: What did you not know that can be recycled?

The Italian group, responsible for preparing this workshop, presented in the first part via PowerPoint and videos objects and materials that are recycled by different countries and the process involved for this.

The main objective was to increase the level of information on the multitude of objects that can be recycled or reused. How can we recycle certain objects and improve our lifestyle? Methods used: direct involvement of young people, teamwork, brainstorming, dialogue, presentation, interactive activity. We found a series of solutions and objects that can be recycled or reused and the participants’ proposed feasible solutions for its implementation. In the second part of the workshop, the Italian participants coordinated an outdoor waste collection activity where all the participants saw the garbage that tourists or people from the local community are throwing out by the rivers, by the side of the streets, or in the woods. They understood that ecological education is absent in the area since over 60% of the garbage we collected consisted of plastic bags, bottles, or plastic materials which can easily be recycled if a system for collecting them would be in place in these areas and if the people would be more involved and more aware of their actions.

Workshop 4: Food waste and food management

The Polish group, responsible for preparing this workshop, approached the theme with an interesting activity. Methods used: teamwork, brainstorming, dialogue and interactive activity. They have divided the participants into 5 groups and asked the groups to make lists with ingredients for daily menus that have the least waste of food. Afterward, they organized a short debate to raise awareness about food waste prevention.

Workshop 5: Creative Recycling and Entrepreneurship

The Romanian group was responsible for preparing this workshop. This is one of the most important workshops of the project because it directly involves the local community. The participants met young people from the local area and together they created a group which, on the idea of recycling, created hand-made objects from old or used materials that can be recycled. Then they went out in the local community with the created objects and tried to sell them to people. Surprisingly, a lot of the approached people were receptive to this activity and they offered to buy these objects.

The project „ECOnecting the World” was financed with the support of European Commission through Erasmus+ Programme. This blog reflects only the author’s views, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.