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ENVIRONMENT > UKRAINE

“Don’t litter, it’s a sin” Even the Church goes Green
“Don’t litter,
it’s a sin”
Even the Church
goes Green

In the battle to raise environmental awareness, Church

www.enpi-info.eu

and children are strong allies of the Ukrainian authorities. The waste management problem is acute in some regions, and an overall strategy for ecological education as well as illegal waste disposal has been put in place. The government is supported by an EU-funded project, which was launched in the Ukrainian region of Zakarpattia (Transcarpathia) a few months ago, and which is also being implemented in 7 other countries – because today garbage disposal is a real global issue.

Text and photos by Dmytro Hubenko

This publication does not represent the offi cial view of the EC or the EU institutions. The EC accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to its content.

ENVIRONMENT > UKRAINE “Don’t litter, it’s a sin” Even the Church goes Green In the battle

KYIV – “Where did the fi rst garbage come from? When did the fi rst ecological catas- trophe happen?” Such unusual questions were heard during the fi rst ever ecologi- cal sermon on April 10, 2011 by churchgoers in the Greek-Catholic cathedral of the main city in Zakarpattia. From that day on, ‘green sermons’ that call for respect of the environment and for proper waste disposal are heard throughout the churches of all major Christian denominations in this mountainous Ukrainian region. Cooperation with religious organizations is just one of the unique features of a project devoted to addressing the waste disposal problem in the region. In September 2010, the €5.9 million EU ‘Waste Governance’ project was launched in Zakarpattia (Transcarpathia). It is being simultaneously implemented in Ukraine and 6 other countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia).

N The garbage catch of the net installed across the Latorytsia river

ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 53

To fi ght indiff erence

“When environmental problems are discussed in church,” explains Mons. Milan, the bishop of Mukachevo Greek-Catholic church, “this

helps to realize that ecological sins really exist… We do not have fi -

nancial assets, but we have the means of moral infl uence. If the Church

This is a series of features on projects funded by the EU’s Regional Programme, prepared by journalists and photographers on the ground or the ENPI Info Centre. © 2011 ENPI Info Centre / EU

ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 53

“Don’t litter, it’s a sin” Even the Church goes Green

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“If the Church takes part in an environmental initiative, its followers understand that they cannot be indifferent about it”

takes part in an environmental initiative, its followers understand that they cannot be indifferent about it.” And, really, Zakarpattia cannot afford to be indifferent about the problem of waste man- agement. The issue in the region is very acute, especially in the mountains, where inhabitants often use rivers to dump their rubbish. That is why the banks of local rivers tend to look like improvised waste dis- posal sites. The region of Zakarpattia borders with four European Union mem- bers, so this problem automatically becomes international. “There are thousands of small rivers in Zakarpattia,” explains Eduard Osiys- kiy, head of the water resource department of the regional admin- istration, “and any plastic bottle thrown into them in the mountains, will appear downstream, in the Tysa river.” So the floating plastic tide crosses the state border. This complicates Ukraine’s relations with Slovakia and Hungary, which have to collect the Ukrainian waste on their territory. The catch of the special net installed across the Latorytsia River near the border town of Tchop – another component of the project – illustrates the scale of this man-made disaster. A couple of days is enough to fill the net with plastic bottles. They are so many, that they almost block the river.

ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 53 “Don’t litter, it’s a sin” Even the Church goes

NThe bishop of the Greek Catholic cathedral in Uzhghorod before the ‘green sermon’

Eco-eagle teams hunting for plastic bottles

The role of the net across Latorytsia – which is only one among the thousands of Transcarpathian rivers – is to draw public attention to the problem of waste manage - ment. The Waste Governance project has many objectives, among which the detec- tion and inventory of illegal waste disposal sites, and the development of an inte - grated waste management strategy for Zakarpattia for the next 15 years. Simon Pow, the project’s team leader, thinks that the major task is not to fight the consequences, but to eradicate the roots of the problem. The waste should be stopped upstream, at the beginning of its journey down, not on the border with other countries. And in order to achieve this, people’s awareness needs to be increased and their attitude changed. From here, stems the cooperation with the Church, a very powerful force in the region. Another compo - nent aims at children’s ecological education. Little Transcarpathians have enthusiastically taken part in the ‘Day without Waste’ contest organized by the project in April 2011, together with a private compa- ny. The children had to draw ‘maps of happiness and sorrow’, showing pollution hot spots and ecologically clean spots of land. ‘To love is to know’ was the motto of the ‘Environment-2011’, team which explained the need for ecological knowledge. The children showed mature wisdom in their presentations. ‘Plastic treasures’ was the title of a second initiative, whose goal was to reward the team able to col- lect most plastic bottles from their villages. The 7 members of the ‘Ecoeagles’ team from Dovhepole gathered 94 big sacks of waste in just five days. The boys explained that they found the most on the dam where the river brings the garbage from upstream villages.

N Trash by Nevytskyi Castle.

ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 53 “Don’t litter, it’s a sin” Even the Church goes

“There are thousands of small rivers in Zakarpattia, and any plastic bottle thrown into them in the mountains, will appear downstream, in the Tysa river”

ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 53

“Don’t litter, it’s a sin” Even the Church goes Green

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Special containers for recycling

Children’s ecological education is very important. But the problem of littering is criti- cal, and it requires immediate action. One more contest, ‘Public Initiative – Life with- out Waste’, was aimed at the search for innovative ideas for proper waste manage- ment. The winning village – Kostylivka, with a population of 3,100 – does not have any place for landfi ll. In their application, the people off ered a very practical option:

to collect garbage in separate containers, and to recycle it. As for the whole of Zakarpattia, the biggest problem in Kostylivka is plastic bottles. “During the winter we remove 5,000 bottles every three weeks, in summer between 8,000 and 9,000,” says Olha Smetaniuk, the head of the village. “We already have 10 containers to collect bottles, but our village is 7km long, and people do not want to walk so far to dispose of their garbage… We need 5 more containers, and we would like to install diff erent ones, for plastic and glass. In this way, recycling could also be considered.” Simon Pow stresses that the problem of waste management needs a complex ap- proach: “It’s not only a technical issue, but also an economic and public awareness one.” He sounds optimistic: “If we have the Church and the children on our side we have a tremendous future.”

N Ecological education is a very important task for the future.

ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 53 “Don’t litter, it’s a sin” Even the Church goes

“It’s not only a technical issue, but also an economic and public awareness one. If we have the Church and the children on our side we have a tremendous future.”

Waste Governance – European neighbourhood and partnership instrument (ENPI) East

The project aims to improve the management of waste by promoting higher standards at waste facilities, more eff ective waste prevention initiatives, increased capacities for waste collection and sorting, as well as increasing reuse, recovery, and safe disposal of waste in the region.

http://wastegovernance.org/index_eng.html

Participating countries

Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine

Timeframe

2009-2013

Objective

The specifi c tasks faced by the project include the inventorisation of illegal waste disposal site,

the strengthening of waste classifi cation practices, the development of pilot waste management strategies at regional level and public awareness building campaigns.

Find out more ENPI project fi che www.enpi-info.eu/maineast.php?id=22374&id_type=1 Environment – Thematic portal www.enpi-info.eu/themeeast.php?subject=6

Budget

€ 5.9 million

ENPI

 

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