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InterNations for the Environment: How the Changemakers Are Making a Difference

InterNations for the Environment was a month-long global campaign that took place in July throughout all our Changemakers Groups. The campaign focused on the different environmental issues in different communities. This idea was born from the Promising Practices activities, a special space for Changemakers Consuls from all over the world to get together, discuss ideas, and try to solve different problems.

Why the environment?

The question is, why not? Every individual has the moral obligation to protect our planet and work towards a more sustainable future. Our future generations depend on our current actions.

Our Changemakers jumped on board and did their part to make a difference in their community. We asked them what inspired them to start their Changemakers journey and how they continue to encourage their members to take part in activities that will help improve their communities.

What inspired you to become a Changemakers Consul?

First, we hear from our Changemakers Consuls in Moscow, Julia Koryagina and Divesh Kumar. Due to the pandemic, Divesh didn’t have much to do, apart from working from home. He wanted to use his experience as a doctor and a pharma professional to do something for his community.

He shares, “I come from a remote village in India, and I have always volunteered with charity organizations since my childhood. The InterNations Changemakers offered me the platform to pursue my passion and serve humankind.”

Similarly, Julia had also volunteered in a lot of environmental activities in China before returning to her hometown of Moscow, where she wanted to continue her efforts.

Across the globe in Rio de Janeiro, people need support with basic things like food and shelter due to the country’s socio-economic situation. Claudia Paludo Pykalisto and Luciana Padula tell us how being a Changemakers Consul “gives them a great opportunity to drive projects that have a positive impact on the lives of people in need and on the environment, and that's the best part, all while having fun!”

Over in Paris, Christine Bos explains that her wish to make a difference started from a young age. She tells us, “I have always wanted to help others. Since I grew up in a large family, caring and sharing have been a part of my life.” This led her to become a Changemakers Consul when she joined InterNations.

What are some key environmental issues that are prevalent in your community?

Both Julia and Divesh agree that “careless behaviour with waste in public places” seems to be an ongoing problem in Moscow. They stressed the need to educate people on this and did this through their Cleaning of Bitcevsky Park activity.

In Rio, despite the city's beautiful beaches and vegetation, plastic pollution is a main concern. Claudia and Luciana share that “sometimes you see so much plastic on the shorelines — this is a serious problem affecting not only our marine life, but our overall environment as well.” Heavy rains also wash a lot of garbage that is not disposed properly into the sea. Our Rio Changemakers did their part by taking part in a Beach Clean-Up.

Christine arranged a Plastic Free Picnic in Paris, where she aims to tackle issues such as plastic, industrial, and household waste pollution. Members meet to share and discuss ideas on how to combat these issues.

What have you and your members done to address and/or tackle these issues?

Moscow: Consistency is Key

The Moscow Consuls have hosted and continue to host activities consistently to keep the momentum going. Past activities include a Barbeque to discuss environmental issues and, in the following month, a leisurely walk where Global Warming was the main topic of the day.

Rio: A Greater Outreach

Claudia and Luciana have decided to partner with other non-profit organizations (NPOs) for a larger and faster impact. To motivate their members, they also have printed t-shirts that members wear during beach clean-ups with nice messages such as “We love our beaches, how about you!”

Paris: The Devil is in the Details

Christine stresses the importance on focusing on the small things in life. She continues to advocate that change starts from home. Reducing plastic in your daily life, recycling household appliances, and reducing your carbon footprint by taking public transportation are topics that are close to her heart.

Fighting littering in Moscow's parks

What were some of the challenges you faced while creating Changemakers Activities, and how do you move forward to achieve your goals?

All five Consuls agree that the one common challenge is to get people to come out and engage in activities for a good cause instead of simply having a good time over some food and drinks. The common understanding among these Consuls is that Changemakers Activities are special, and every single person brings us one step closer to making a difference.

Divesh shares some encouraging words for other Changemakers Consuls: “It’s just a matter of time, and people will come out and take part. So, just keep moving forward and know that you and your members are doing the right thing”.

What are some tips you can give to other Consuls who want to create similar environment-related activities in their community?

Our Rio Consuls share with us that good communication is the key to a successful activity. They believe that “aligning with members on dates, places, and time is important, and Consuls should always try to be flexible. It is not easy to find a date that suits everyone, so we have decided to visit different beaches on different days, having the activity more often so people can join whenever they can.”

Divesh and Julia highlight the importance of working together and co-hosting with other Consuls. “Whenever joining an event, please don’t advertise yourself or your business. Come forward with an open mind and an open heart to welcome each other, and keep your ego aside,” says Divesh.

Christine asks Consuls to make use of their talents. For example, “I am a couturière, so I repair or alter clothes if they are salvageable. I put this into practice during the lockdown, and we even did some online training classes on how to reduce pollution through recycling old clothing. Always reach out to your members and ask them if they can offer any skill or service.”

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