Zero Waste Europe is happy to introduce the blog series “Meet our members”. Through this series of monthly interviews, we want to give you a chance to get to know our members and the work they are doing.
Meet Maija Krastina from Zero Waste Latvija, Latvia.
Hi Maija, can you give us a brief introduction to the Zero Waste Latvija’s focus?
Zero Waste Latvija was born out of a Facebook group that was created in January 2016 where anyone with an interest in zero waste could exchange tips and tricks on how to reduce waste. Seeing the tremendous interest that it generated, during the Global Overshoot Day 2018 the Facebook group decided to transform itself becoming an NGO.
Currently, our main focus is raising awareness about waste reduction and prevention through social media, discussion groups, workshops, educational lectures, conferences and media appearances. We are also trying to contribute to shaping the policies at the national and local level.
How long have you been in the field and what got you into (zero) waste?
I have been consciously trying to reduce my footprint for the last 10 years, but I started to be actively engaged with Zero Waste Latvija 2 years ago. The biggest push to my own waste consciousness was when I started composting 7 years ago and I realised how much waste we can avoid. My friends know me as a waste reduction preacher, and being part of Zero Waste Latvija has been great to meet people who are 1000 times more motivated than me.
Our mission is to make zero waste mainstream in Latvia.
What is your current role in the organisation?
I’m part of the Communications and Outreach Team and my mission is promoting waste reduction. I’m co-managing Zero Waste Latvija social media accounts, contributing to campaigns, speaking in workshops, moderating conferences and contributing to other projects.
Tell us more about one ongoing campaign/activity you’re working on?
Composting has been a hot topic that got a lot of interest from people in Latvia. Today, small scale composting is not organised at any levels across the country, so we are currently working on a collective composting pilot project. We are planning to set up our first formal collective composting facility in Riga that will also serve to elaborate regulation recommendations for the national and local level.
Another project that we’re working on is understanding recycling errors. Our team will be visiting recycling plants and analysing waste coming from the differentiated collection. With this activity we want to create understandable guidelines for users, but also for companies, packaging designers or anyone else involved in the creation of any kind of packagings.
If there was one thing that you would like your organisation to be known for, what would it be?
We are known as hands-on zero waste experts to whom people turn when they want to start their zero waste journey. Our Facebook discussion group is also something to be proud of. It’s a go-to place for any questions concerning waste reduction, from the most simple to most technically complicated. We currently have over 12 500 members.
Q6 – How would you describe the growth of the Zero Waste movement in your country? What is your perspective for the future?
The interest for zero waste movement has been tremendous in the past years. Before COVID-19 and even now, we receive requests for speaking in schools, organisations, companies. In 2019 alone, our volunteers gave more than 50 presentations in various organisations or events to audiences consisting of 10 – 100 persons each time.
If we were a business or a start-up, the investors would be standing in a queue: our ‘growth’ has been fantastic.
As more and more people become conscious of climate challenges, zero waste has become a hot topic. We also see other organisations in Latvia actively talking about zero waste and that’s great to see that we’re not alone.