Finding a green and quiet area in Yerevan to talk about environmental issues, this time― the plastic crisis, is a challenge. Instead, the variable mass of plastic and garbage residues can be found in almost every corner of the city.
Lilit Grigoryan,18, a volunteer from the “Eco֊Agb” environmental initiative, came to the interview on the plastic crisis and waste recycling in Armenia having a cloth bag with a #NoToPlastic writing on her shoulder and books on physics and astronomy in her hand.
Last summer the future astronomer handed over her paper waste for recycling thus participating in the monthly waste collection event organized by the "Eco-Aghb" environmental initiative for the first time.
“Every pupil has a large supply of paper, and the thought of having it recycled is a pleasure because you feel that you are minimizing your individual emission bringing benefits for the community”,- notes the young lady.
Already in the winter, Lilit became a volunteer of the “Eco Aghb” initiative.
During the annual Christmas Market in Yerevan, she presented the Eco Aghb’s Pavilion, selling items made from recycled materials, handicrafts by people with disabilities, informing people about the importance of waste management.
The Eco aghb Youth Environmental Initiative has been operating for two years now. Initially, young volunteers collected only paper waste on Zakyan Street in Yerevan and handed it over for recycling, now they also collect plastic, polyethylene, glass, and more importantly― they inform and educate people about waste management, encouraging them to sort their waste. So far, waste collection is carried out only in Yerevan, but the initiators intend to hold events in the regions in the near future. The initiative is implemented through the personal funds of young people and the proceeds from the Green Shop 4eco online store.
Waste recycling takes place in 4 stages: Firstly people sort their waste, then hand it over to volunteers of “Eco Aghb” the volunteers make sure that the waste is sorted correctly, and for example, plastic and polyethylene are separated, then the representatives of the initiative deliver the waste to factories such as Armplast, which recycles plastic and gets new and cheaper plastic products.
“ The point is that if we do not provide materials, the factories will import more plastic from other countries. For example, now Iran has reduced the price of plastic, and I’m concerned that the factories won’t be interested to take recycled plastic from such initiatives, especially since the imported raw materials are primary and ours are secondary. It is necessary to raise the awareness that it is better to reuse what has already been consumed than to consume the new one”,- said Grigoryan.
The initiative did not stop the waste collection measures under the COVID-19 and the state of emergency declared in Armenia. Grigoryan assures that all the conditions for the prevention of the virus have been strictly observed― social distance, disinfection, masks, gloves, etc. during the events.
“ It is often mentioned that, especially during the pandemic, people must tightly close plastic garbage bags, throw masks and gloves in the appropriate bins, but you can see masks, gloves, plastic bags full of garbage in the streets, that is not only unpleasant but dangerous”,- mentioned Grigoryan.
According to her the number of participants has not decreased during the pandemic.
“ It can also be considered a success because the consciousness of some people is so high that even in these difficult conditions they try to sort and recycle their waste”,- she notes.
We conclude the conversation with thoughts about care and love towards the mother nature.
“ We are a part of the nature, we live here and our generations will, therefore we must feel responsible, try to keep it clean and take care of it as best we can”,- concludes the young environmentalist․