In 2019, the European Week for Waste Reduction called for action under the slogan: “Change your ways, reduce your waste.” Owing to the support of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, the Association of Environmental Enterprises, as the Hungarian coordinator of the event, nominated one action in each category for the international Awards. The Hungarian Awards Ceremony, where the winners will receive their prizes and certificates, will be held in the near future.
Between 16 and 24 November 2019, 30 countries participated in the campaign of the European Week for Waste Reduction with altogether more than 16,570 actions, including 410 Hungarian awareness-raising and waste reduction initiatives. The countries nominated their best actions in each category for the European Week for Waste Reduction Awards. Later on, presumably in June 2020, an international jury will choose the winners from the nominees. Hungarian action developers will hopefully receive recognition again in this competition, as they have managed to win awards or be shortlisted in the past years. In this Week’s international photo contest for instance, the Klímanócskák project of Hódmezővásárhely reached the finals.
In the Public administration category, the Green Court project of the Budapest-Capital Regional Court was nominated for the award. As part of the project, a taskforce of volunteers was organized to raise awareness among the employees of the administration and to sensitize them to environmental problems. Selective collection of paper and plastic waste was also introduced during the Week in the head office of the Budapest-Capital Regional Court (Markó utca).
The Court held the opening ceremony of the EWWR events in the Chamber of the Grand Jury in the Budapest-Capital Regional Court, where “waste was sued”. Following that, the participants visited the Library to see a photo exhibition on pollution and its consequences. In the end, “veggie bags” made from discarded curtains of the Court were distributed as presents. To complement the exhibition, useful objects made from waste materials by the workers of the institution were also presented (e.g. a laptop bag made from coffee packaging materials, backpack made from inner tubes of bicycles, jewels made from textile and coffee capsules). During the Week, the taskforce also organized visits to two of the Educational and Reuse Centres of the FKF Nonprofit Zrt, in which four groups participated with altogether ninety employees.
A drawing contest was organized for the children of the employees to see how they perceive the environmental problems and what solutions they offer to mitigate them. Following the assessment of the 51 drawings, Dr Péter Tatár-Kis, president of the Budapest-Capital Regional Court, handed over the awards.
The intranet of the Court has a section called Green Court. It is a virtual bulletin board, where good practices, ideas and green programmes are shared. On the institution’s family day at Advent, more than 100 participants had the chance to make decorations and presents from recyclable materials (e.g. Christmas trees from plastic bottles of soft drinks; decorations from beer caps, corks and local newspapers).
The Fairy-Trail Picnic – the experience-oriented environmental education programme of the Europalánta Association – was nominated for the EWWR award in the category of non-profit organizations. During the Week, the programme, which was based on the “Puppets for future – Greening your home!” method, was implemented in three kindergarten groups with the participation of kindergarten teachers, who also received training.
As part of the Picnic, the members of the Association walked the kindergarten teachers and the children through the Fairy-Trail, where they employed drama-based pedagogy tools to discuss all the topics of the Trail, from preventing waste to reuse. In addition to creating experiential learning situations, they also made and used lovable puppets that were suitable for mimicking and memorization. Involving kindergarten teachers ensured that the know-how is transferred to them, thus the programmes and schedules of the Week can be reproduced, practiced and preserved.
In the category of Educational establishments, the Waste Coolture programme of the Nyírtelek Kastélykert Kindergarten and Nursery won the nomination. The colourful and playful activity for children had daily programmes during the Week and aimed at sensitizing to environmental issues.
On the first day, the children made musical instruments from waste. They created a whole orchestra, including a rattler made from grains, a guitar and a drum with cymbal.
On the second day they visited the landfill at Orosi Street, Nyíregyháza. The children were surprised to see the waste hills and the waste-sorting system, and they were taken aback when they saw that the workers sorted manually the waste that could have been prevented if those items had not been bought or if they had been collected selectively... During the programme, they discussed the possible consequences of generating waste and littering. They could also see large-scale composting, which inspired them to build a compost in the yard of the kindergarten (which later was implemented).
In the middle of the Week, “Selective Ákos” visited the kindergarten with the Playhouse for Environmental Education programme of the Észak-Alföldi Környezetgazdálkodási Nonprofit Kft. (Northern Great Plain Environment Management Ltd). The children built Selective Ákos and a garbage truck from huge blocks.
Selective Ákos also brought colouring pages on the topic of nature conservation and environmental protection, and while colouring them, the children could discuss what the pictures represented and why their message was important.
The highlight of the Week was Thursday, when a garbage truck arrived at the kindergarten. The children could climb on it, wear “work clothes”: caps and vests, honk the horn and empty the garbage container of the kindergarten. They learnt about its build, how it works, and what the etymology of the word KUKA (meaning garbage bin) is: “Hans Keller and Jacob Knappich set up the company K. U. K. A. in the town of Augsburg in 1898, the name of which is an acronym for Keller Und Knappich Augsburg.” http://szelektalok.hu/miert-pont-kuka-a-kuka-es-miert-nem-hapci/
On the last day of the Week, the children wrote and drew about their experiences, put the result in a time capsule, and then buried it in the small front garden of the institution to send a message to the kindergartners of the future: “Message for the Future”. They will unbury it when the kindergarten receives the Lifetime Green Kindergarten award, which will hopefully happen soon.
In the Citizens category, Zita Szöllősi-Sebestyén was listed among the nominees for developing the Zero Waste in Schools programme. With her methodology, she proved that an environmentally conscious, zero-waste attitude can be implemented in our everyday lives in just one week and without considerable investment; or in other words: “Change your ways, reduce your waste.”
The practical, playful exercises, group brainstorming and creative work do not require self-denial, only to change our ways a little. As part of the preparation, Zita Szőllősi-Sebestyén chose a class for the implementation.
In the beginning of the Week for Waste Reduction, the children were confronted with the waste they generated during the previous week (the form teacher had collected it in secret), and then they analyzed it.
Afterwards, they discussed the essence, the methodology and the point of waste collection, as well as the possibilities of waste management (recycling, reuse).
In the following days, the children tried their hands at creative work to see what can be made from discarded materials and tools (T-shirts, curtains), how they can be reused. Everybody received a bag for their elevenses, it turned out that they all have metal water bottles at home, and they could test what materials can be turned into a great T-shirt bag. On the next occasion, they reflected on the future, they discussed what they would do differently, how they would change their ways to reduce their waste.
Every participant set three objectives for themselves (one for a week, one for a month and one until the end of the school year) and placed them on a “difficulty/value matrix”. The objectives were very different: one child vowed to generate only two jars of waste and another one promised to reduce car usage (by walking or using public transport).
The results of the one-week-long action are that the garbage bins are continuously examined, waste reduction keeps being brought up at the discussions held by the form teacher, and the children are often reminded of their objectives. The idea is eminently suited to continuously sensitize teachers, children and parents and to keep the matter on the agenda, thus the environmentally conscious behaviour becomes ingrained into the everyday lives of families and institutions.
In the category Companies, the programme of the Budapest Zoo, which had been available to visitors for nine days, received the nomination.
Starting from the first day of the European Week for Waste Reduction, a Wastemonster and a Cigarette Butt Aquarium greeted the visitors at the entrance of the Zoo in the spirit of the “Change your ways, reduce your waste” slogan. The installations reminded them that several cubic meters of consumption-related waste is generated and left on the premises of the Zoo on a daily basis.
The “Once Upon a Castle” demonstrated garden waste processing and the cycles of nature, inspiring garden plot owners. On the weekend, families could participate in more interesting, playful, thematic activities about waste prevention, reuse and recycling, such as doing arts and crafts, making reimagined, creative objects, and visiting an ecodesign exhibition. The visitors could also learn if animals litter, and what a landlocked nation like Hungary can do to reduce ocean pollution and protect marine life.
Each element of the programme demonstrated the possibilities of and the methods available to responsible and active people, and highlighted that waste can be prevented, reused and recycled if everybody is ready to participate.
It is worth noting that this year’s European Week for Waste Reduction will take place between 21 and 29 November 2020.