By changing our ways, we are showing the next generation that we do indeed take the future seriously, through action and not only in words. – Deputy Head of Mission Marko Soldic
CENN and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, on October 6 held the awards ceremony of a competition for journalists and bloggers/vloggers “Beat Plastic Pollution” as part of the ongoing National Plastic Waste Prevention Program.
Within the scope of the competition, published articles, blogs, videos, photo stories and vlogs were accepted, all of which had to depict plastic pollution and the challenges related to plastic overall. Content could include personal experience, a focus on the circular economy and sustainable management of plastic waste, the role of the business sector in reducing plastic waste and/or the role of recycling companies in reducing plastic and developing the economy, or problems associated with microplastics and the risks to human health.
The aim of the competition was to help raise awareness of the negative impact of plastic and plastic pollution, the ways in which we can reduce excessive use of plastic, and the ways in which we can reduce plastic pollution.
Three winners were chosen by the jury.
The 1st place winner, Tea Topuria, won 1,500 GEL in Zoommer vouchers for her work “So, delicious! How we eat one plastic card every week,” in which she wrote about microplastics, how widespread they are, and the potential harm to our health and environment.
The 2nd place winner, Anano Mtschedlishvili, received 1,200 GEL worth of Zoommer vouchers for her work “How plastic harms the environment and why recycling is not a solution to the problem.” In this article, she focused on how severe the plastic pollution problem and our throwaway culture are. She also wrote about potential solutions and how to move forward.
The 3rd place winner, GEORGIA TODAY’s own Katie Ruth Davies, won 900 GEL worth of Zoommer vouchers for her article “Here’s Why You Should Say No to Plastic (and How)” in which she explained how active her family is in environmental awareness-raising, and how they do their part to reduce plastic consumption and set an example for others.
Partners to the competition, Toyota Georgia and Gulf Georgia, each awarded 2000 GEL to their favorites, Toyota for “most creative work that shows strategic and long-term vision,” and Gulf for “the most creative work that shows personal experience and activities that support the reduction of plastic pollution.” Carrefour chose GT’s Katie Ruth Davies as its favorite submission to the competition, gifting her a Bag for Life and a JBL portable speaker.
Deputy Head of Mission to Norway in Georgia, Marko Soldic, noted that “although environmental issues do receive more and more attention, there’s still a worrying discrepancy between the seriousness of the issue and the attention it receives. And this is where bloggers and journalists come in,” he said. “To bridge this gap, we need to find ways to more effectively communicate the core of the issue to the public in a precise but honest and non-alarmist way. This award ceremony is part of the awareness-raising activities under our cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, and CENN, for the National Plastic Waste Prevention Program in Georgia.”
The range of projects and initiatives that Norway supports in Georgia spans from security matters and social and human rights, to environmental issues such as those covered in this competition.
“Globally, we see two main challenges today in the attitude people have to information about environmental issues,” Marko Soldic told the audience. “The first challenge is related to the decreasing but still significant part of the public, which is ‘indifference.’ To them, we need to communicate the fact that no-one can escape the consequences of the massive environmental challenges we face today. Globalization and the scale of pollution has brought us way beyond the point where environmental issues can be viewed as local problems with limited spread. Today, microplastic particles from Norway end up in glaciers. A plastic bottle thrown into the Rioni river may theoretically end up in the great garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean.
“The second problematic attitude is of those who realize the problem but sink down into apathy due to the scale of the challenge. Their mantra is, ‘It doesn’t matter what I do for the environment, if China continues burning coal.’ To them, we need to communicate that the truth is exactly the opposite. Everyone can and must do their part, and it will have an effect. And I’m not only talking about the immediate and physical effect of having one less plastic bottle floating in the Rioni- I’m talking about the massive effect of slowly changing our ways and habits by integrating respect for the environment into everything we do.
“By changing our ways, we are showing the next generation that we do indeed take the future seriously, through action and not only in words,” he said.
“I know the bloggers and journalists here today are aware of these issues, and that they are trying hard to do their part. A lot of the work that was submitted to this competition certainly testifies to this. I want to encourage you to continue to play this key role for the environment, keep writing about it, keep educating and motivating, and keep being the agents of change which we so need.”
“We appreciate the well-thought-out, educational, open and relevant submissions that we received for this competition,” Solomon Pavliashvili, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, said. “We have worked to introduce into the school curriculum, for the time being at 6th grade, a component on environmental protection, and we trained some 700 teachers in how best to convey that knowledge and information to their pupils.
“Preventing plastic pollution is a global issue, and it is difficult to find a solution, but we are working to develop the waste management field in Georgia, to reduce plastic pollution, and we will get used to the concept of separation, recycling, etc., as they have in other countries. You, the journalists and bloggers here today, are our partners in this process and you do great work, work that clearly comes from a desire within to make a change. You do this for the people, for society, and for that, I thank you.”
Numerous school pupils took part in the #BeatPlasticPollution competition, a fact lauded by both Marko Soldic and Deputy Minister Pavliashvili. Their contributions were accessed as excellent, in some cases better than those of the adults, reflecting that the younger generations have a better understanding of the need to tackle environmental issues and of the need to ensure that human activity on this planet returns to sustainable ways. “Our children are our hope for the future,” Soldic noted. “I hope more adults will listen to them.”
By Team GT