According to the NGO Ukraine without Garbage, about 10 million tons of garbage are shipped to Ukrainian landfills annually. While 30-40% of this garbage is recyclable, only 4% of it is actually recycled.
In 2016, a tragedy occurred at the Gribovitsky landfill in Lviv, Ukraine when an uncontrolled fire caused the death of six people. This accident directed the attention of the city’s entire community towards the area’s environmental problems.
The Lviv Regional Children’s Library wanted to help tackle the region’s environmental issues, so its librarians launched the Garbage Hero educational project. Since the project’s launch in May 2016, the library has held 150+ Garbage Hero events. More than 3000 people have participated, taking part in presentations, demonstrations, screenings, and many other activities.
The project is aimed at children ages four to fifteen, their parents and teachers. The library educates participants in eco-thinking, caring for natural resources, reducing waste and subsequently passing on their knowledge to relatives and friends.
Through informative and entertaining workshops, children and adults learn about eco-practices such as sorting garbage, reusing waste materials, recycling used batteries and repurposing plastic bottle tops. The library partnered with game developers Shadow Masters who created the Garbage Hero mobile app game, which library started to use to teach children how to sort trash in a fun an interactive way.
The ECOcorner at the library offers on-site events such as planting greenery, designing the winter garden, and drawing competitions. The library also coordinates promotional activities such as organizing eco-excursions, producing marketing materials, and updating the library blog with relevant eco-friendly articles.
Garbage Hero’s reach has grown and the project is now implemented in cities throughout the country. The project received funding from a competition organised and financed by the British Council’s programme Active Citizens, which provides the project with a solid starting point for future development.
According to research conducted among 90 participants in the project, 70% responded that their families’ recycling habits had changed drastically as a result of the Garbage Hero project. Children and their parents sort their trash not only in the library, but also at home. The use of eco-bags has also been widely adopted and the demand for eco-books has increased.
Yulia Shcherbakova – a parent of a participating child stated remarked, “My daughter has been visiting the Lviv Children's Library since she was three years old. She is 7 now and it is one of her favourite places in Lviv. I was surprised that in addition to the love of books, the library can inspire a lot of other important things such as rational use of our planet’s resources. My children's habits change me.”
Increasing the environmental awareness of children and adults involved in the project is a positive shift in social development. Empowering library users to solve environmental problems raises ecological consciousness and has a positive impact on overall community development.