Human activity, directly or indirectly, causes damage to the planet. Global warming, habitat degradation and biodiversity loss are critical environmental challenges. In Croatia, 39% of 235 evaluated nesting bird species are facing the risk of extinction, and this is only one of many startling statistics.
To address the climate crisis, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Library in Zagreb initiated the Green Library Project (GLP). Launched in March 2018, GLP provides participants with informed climate change research and education. By emphasising the importance of ecology, bioethics and other green topics, GLP aims to re-establish the balance between society, environment and economy.
Although the programme targets students, faculty and staff, everyone is welcome to participate in the wide range of theoretical and practical ‘greentivities’ that take place in the Library. The theoretical greentivities, include lectures, exhibitions, workshops, documentary screenings and discussions on thematically connected international days of recognition, such as Earth Day and World Water Day.
Examples of practical greentivities include demonstrations on how to minimize waste, separate recycling, repair bicycles, and reduce single-use plastics. Librarians model green behaviour by showing off their own reusable water containers, cutlery and canvas bags, and the Library promotes a healthier lifestyle by encouraging walking, cycling, carpooling and use of public transportation.
The greentivities take place year-round - every year between three to five activities are organised. Each event hosts between 50 and 70 people, mostly students, teachers and librarians, resulting in roughly 500 participants per year.
The GLP workgroup, comprised of a team of librarians, collaborates with departments within the Faculty, various NGOs and public services related to the scope of work. This interdisciplinary approach connects the Library with the curriculum, ensures greater inclusion and has led to a fresh approach to green topics.
Results from the programme’s evaluation show that nine out of ten greentivities participants have gained understanding of their personal impact on the environment. For example, 74% of the programme’s participants indicated that they have started to recycle more often since participating in GLP.
Participants’ testimonies also highlight programme success: “I began to pay special attention to the packaging in which I buy household products. I try to use disposable plastic as little as possible.” And, “I became aware of how much waste we produce because now I regularly separate the waste and it has literally become apparent to me how fast and how quickly the bins are being filled for a particular type of waste.”
Through these thought-provoking conversations, GLP highlights the interconnectedness of environmental issues , the individual and society. The programme will continue to provide the public with information about responsible consumption while collaborating with faculty members, associations, and public services. The Green Library Project is also working to increase their visibility through social media, expand their network of like-minded people and increase their green practices as they move into the future.