On the occasion of successfully finishing the first part of our project in collaboration with the City of Skopje „Средношколците за почисто Скопје “, (Highschoolers for a cleaner Skopje) I will sum up some of the valuable Eco Tips we collected in the first part of the project. The projects consist of three general parts, of which the first was having workshops in 23 different schools all over Skopje, the second is cleaning up areas in every municipality of Skopje together with the schools, Za Pochista Macedonia and the City of Skopje and the last part will be a designing competition for the students, in which the winner will have their designing printed on a bus driving through Skopje.
1.Change out your next toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush from Stokomak
In every school that we have been to, when we proposed this, the first reaction was: it’s expensive to buy bamboo toothbrushes and it’s inaccessible for most people – I get that. When you buy it at DM things can get expensive but instead of that, go and check at your local Stokomak if there are some available. After all bamboo is a lot better than plastic toothbrushes, especially when a lot of homes don’t use recycling bins to separate plastic from general waste.
2.Carry your reusable water bottle with you. They work.
Simple but effective. This goes hand in hand with drinking tab water if it’s drinkable. In general, we consume over one million plastic bottles every minute of the day. So maybe try to save the 2 bottles of water a day, the 14 bottles a week, the 400 bottles a month and 5000 bottles a year.
3.Turn off lights and boiler when you don’t need them
It saves up energy, it saves up money. Try to be more mindful, everyone tends to forget, but the lights in the corridor or in the kitchen don’t need to be switched on when you’re in your room watching Netflix. Sometimes it’s hard to see the relation between the energy that comes out of the socket and ecological problems related to it. It’s just a long chain where energy needs to be generated, which may cause air pollution or can be rooted in harmful extraction projects. It always depends on what type of energy you use, but even with the greenest energy possible it also comes down to how you treat resources and how we can preserve them. Just imagine what would happen if everyone decided to run the light all night and day – how much more energy would be needed, how much more energy would be generated.
4.Reuse things the Macedonian way
When I first came and saw how every single person here reuses glass jars and turns them into Ajvar glasses I was in awe. I’m sure that you can find people who do that in Germany as well but it’s by far not as popular. It’s so sustainable and a great way to reuse glass jars. The same goes with the bags you receive in grocery stores or the bakery. Instead of pointlessly throwing them away they are being reused as trash bags – amazing!
5.DO NOT LITTER – Portable Ashtrays are a thing and so are trash bins!
How hard can it be to not throw an empty bag of chips or your cigarette butts on the floor. Carry it to the next bin, put it in there. In Germany everyone’s mum would ask: would you drop it as well if you were in your own house? I hope not. Skopje just gets more and more dirty because people don’t care and think some magical fairy is going to clean up after them. Every single piece of plastic that’s left in the nature will take hundreds and thousands of years to break down. When it finally breaks down it will simply break down into microplastic entering the food chain and having severe health effects on everything and everyone. And by the way, cigarette butts are not made from paper at all! They consist of cellulose acetate which is literally man-made plastic plus it contains hundreds of toxic chemicals.
6.Less cars more busses.
To put it in the simplest way: it reduces pollution and saves resources. You can walk as well, it keeps you fit and healthy. Also, why are there so many cars in Skopje?
7.Use household remedies for cleaning instead of the usual chemical bombshells
Do you really need to use the 10th chemical cleaner which pollutes litres and litres of water with every single use or is it possible to use something less aggressive to the environment. This could be household remedies which you know from your grandmother like vinegar or natron or even better – what if we collectively stop buying unnecessary cleaning products that are packaged and 10 times layered in plastic. Which we also really don’t need because we have got 11 and a half bathroom cleaning products already.
8.Plant yourself a Basil
That’s my favourite tip. It’s not really going to change the world but it’s going to change your world for sure. Your kitchen is going to be greener; you can water it and take care of it. Some people may talk to it, but most importantly you’ve got yourself a gift that keeps on giving. Wow! Basil and rosemary every single day of the week! Your own little herb garden – isn’t that cute.
9.Layer up instead of heating everything up
Winter will be expensive, and winter will be cold. I don’t know how to put it. Everyone should be free to wear what they want, where they want and how they want. But it’s just saving a lot of energy if we would leave the crop top and shorts in summer and went with something warmer maybe a jumper (a cropped jumper?) and long trousers. Do as you please but in general this means that you can heat accordingly, and you don’t have to heat up the whole house by 5 degrees more – if you say that doesn’t relate to you. Please continue. I love you!
Simply: Plastic and metals go into the yellow bin, cardboard and paper into the blue bin, there is a separate bin for glass and batteries, single-used straws and plastics forks cannot be recycled as they are too small and too inconsistent for the machinery, they go with the rest of the waste into the general waste bin. There are also numbers on many juice boxes, jam glasses and more – if you’re overwhelmed, they can help you to sort the trash right. Check out Pakomak or GoGreen, they are amazing! Unrelated, but have you heard about composting already?
While those tips may not save the world, it is important for everyone to carry their package responsibly and partake in the first place. You could call it team effort because every part and every contribution matters. Just imagine how politicians are forced to take care of deeply rooted issues if there’s a raising interest in, for example, recycling – politicians would need to provide more opportunities and maybe there’s a chance to change general garbage politics thoroughly. Or what would happen if we collectively decided to not throw our garbage to the ground? How clean can Skopje possibly become?