Responsive waste management is based on the priority of waste management, with the first step rof educing waste. However, in our society, this step is still insufficiently contemplated both at the level of individuals and at the level of institutions, cities and municipalities.
However, today’s article is dedicated to the story of success in the implementation of this step!
Namely, in 2012, members of the Sunce Association have noticed that children in certain city kindergartens use disposable plastic cups for daily drinking water, and parents are asked to bring these same cups to the kindergartens themselfs. Concerned about the amount of waste that is generated on a daily basis, but also the upbringing of future generations, which in this way are already used to the consumer mentality, we started analyzing the current situation. Our goal was to determine if this negative practice is present in all kindergartens or is only a sporadic examples. With the help of the students from the Natural Science School, who were involved in the program of socially useful learning within our organization, we conducted a questionnaire in pre-school institutions to find out what is the current practice Split and the reasons for such treatment, the amount of plastic time spent, the treatments with the used glasses and similar.
The results of the research have proved to be devastating. The research sample consisted of 62 kindergartens in the Split area, which was 67% of the total number of kindergartens in the city. Even 84% of surveyed kindergartens used day-to-day plastic cups, most of which were public kindergartens, while only 6% (4 surveyed kindergartens, of which three private kindergartens) used the “classic method” – where every child had their own glass. The other 10% used one-time plastic cups sometimes (for birthdays).
Using estimates of day-to-day consumption of cups per child, we calculated that the number of cups spent daily, only in kindergartens in the Split area, ranges between 8,000 and 9,000 cups per day.
At annual level of plastic cups in kindergartens in Split, the parents of children spent 240,000.00 kn.
Given the devastating results of this research, we immediately started the process of advocating for the abolition of this negative practice. We wrote to the principals of kindergartens, talked to health workers because they’ve tried to convince us that the reason for this is providing proper hygiene conditions, we raised this issue at the Environmental Council of the City of Split, wrote to the competent administrative department requesting the practice to change, sending the letter to the Ministry of Science , Education and Sports and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nature. We also addressed the Ministry of Health where they have confirmed that there is no reason to use one-time plastic cups and that there are no rules that prescribe that practice.
We have organized lectures for educators, we print and distribute placards about plastic glasses and their threats, promote examples of good practices and kindergartens that are not working. We also examined what kind of practice was in Western countries, so they were startled when they were surprised to do that in Croatia and Split. Our employees and members resisted the system and did not want to wear glasses in the kindergarten, bringing their kids back to the cups and so exposed the kids to the experience of “little black sheep”. We were delighted with every new kindergarten who decided to stop this negative practice and we rewarded children and educators with free Green Trips.
However, changes were very slow, few who decided to apply the practice were supported by the kindergarten administration. Each new school year meant a new poll. We were hoping that the parents would recognize this harmful practice, so the parents and then the Kastela and Solina kindergartens were interviewed, where the survey showed that there the same negative practice. That is why we again advocated to the mayor and the competent administrative departments of these cities. This problem was also highlighted when we participated in the work of the Working Group for the Development of the Strategy for the inclusion of Split as the City of Friends of Children… And so a little bit more of those who knew and realized how easily this can change, how easy “principle to reduce” we can be applied. Among them politicians, and the topic came to the Split City Council.
In the autumn of 2017 we learn that one kindergarten has left the practice of using one-time glasses and no parents are asked to bring them. However, nobody has informed us about it. Meanwhile, we are writing to the city again warning of the overcrowding of the Karepovac landfill and asking the question whether they have finally ordered city nurseries to stop this. Soon we get a READY answer.
To think about this step, not only in kindergartens, but also in other institutions, that we were more responsible, separating those 30% of paper, 30% bio-waste and composting it, separating plastics and metal, today would not have to witness the transfer of tons and tons of waste, inhale the emission of harmful gases and feel stench throughout the city. At Karepovec, there would be more space for that little part that can not be separated and recycled.
Now, we are only left to learn from these mistakes. And success to celebrate!