Our main goal is to spread awareness about Eco-friendly lifestyle and build a trash free Macedonia. Our journey started 2020 when... wait, do you want the short or the long story?
Za Pochista Makedonija (“For a Cleaner Macedonia”) is an eco-movement based in Skopje. It began as an idea to motivate all mountain hikers and people who spend time in nature to take care of it and not trash. After several clean-ups in mountains and picnic areas, we decided to focus on cities as well, since eco-consciousness often starts in our own backyard.
The pictures and videos of our actions inspired others to also act – just as we had hoped. Motivated by the success, our team of Greenfluencers started to expand and to think bigger. Besides raising awareness among locals for a cleaner environment and a more eco-friendly lifestyle, our goal is also to create an “umbrella” that will unite all organizations dealing with problems related to pollution, recycling and waste treatment in Macedonia. We want to offer a place where anyone can easily get information about eco-movements, organizations and their activities, so you decide how you want to take action.
Due to a project “European youth at the frontlines of active citizenship”, funded by the EU and hosted by Volunteers Centre Skopje the founder of ZPM was able to get financial support to start the movement. This is how it began, but the story doesn’t end here.
It was a sunny day in the mountains when Petar noticed nature and friends were not the only things he was surrounded with. Among growing trees and mountain peaks reaching the sky, he couldn’t help stepping on something that was not on the regular sightseeing hiking list – a countless amount of old, dirty water and beer bottles, food wrappings, cigarette butts… How could nature, something we all share, look like this?
Unselfishly, this group of young mountain hikers took their bags and filled them with everything that did not belong to the mountains. And from that moment, every hiking trip or picnic in nature would become a bit more meaningful, with a desire to make the places enjoyable for everyone and to be role-models for fellow citizens by sharing cleaning stories on social media.
In what can be called a coincidence (or maybe not), months later Petar stumbled on a call for initiatives, published by Volunteers Centre Skopje: “Do you have an idea that will make the world a little bit better?” Well… he did. That’s how Petar took part in a project called “European youth at the frontlines of active citizenship”, funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. Thanks to the project, he was able to create the eco-movement “Za Pochista Makedonija”, group up young people in Skopje and organize various cleaning actions in nature areas. The idea was to promote a healthy lifestyle by spending time in nature – from where it expanded to be an environmental movement focused on the cities, as well.
Not wanting to live where the streets and nature areas were full of garbage anymore, young activists started to spread the word about the movement. We felt the support through Za Pochista’s Instagram profile from the very beginning and, little by little, we started gaining more followers. A lot of people joined the #ZaPochistaMakedonija campaign – an encouragement for people to collect the trash they see on their hikes and to share the act on social media with “before and after” pictures. But our game changer was our first big clean-up in mount Vodno – and that’s how we showed up on media’s radars. Television channels and journalists started to see the changes we were making and, suddenly, we got interview requests and invitations to their morning TV programs. After this and some other big clean-ups (like Kozjac and Marko’s Monastery), we started to build a more nationwide image – we were more motivated than ever to reach out to people and to continue our work.
But Za Pochista didn’t only spread among Macedonians… Not long after, we also reached a foreigner group of volunteers living in Macedonia who couldn’t bear to see the trash on the streets and nature full of garbage. With countless ideas to spread the word and to build a sustainable environmental entity in Macedonia, Za Pochista team became bigger and more international.
We have come far since then. We stick to our beloved clean-ups that set an example while growing the movement and inspiring young people all over the country to take action. Our main goal is to raise awareness among locals and to create a network that will unite all organizations dealing with problems related to pollution, recycling and waste treatment in Macedonia. We want to offer a place where anyone can easily get information about eco-movements, organizations and their activities, so you can decide how you want to take action. Our group – Greenfluencers as we call us – is constantly growing with strong personalities wanting to change. We are always working on ways to expand and improve the movement – stay tuned for more action!
Our Team: Greenfluencers
Petar Stevanovic, 24
Petar (aka Green Petar, praise our leader) is a mountain lover and a nature enthusiast. Hiking, winter sports, cycling… you name it and he will be there - you may just have to wait a little bit.
“Taking care of nature is as important as taking care of yourself and that’s what Za Pochista Makedonija stands for”
Selina Niemi, 26
What is a Finnish girl doing in Macedonia, you may ask? Well, she just fell in love with the country when she was volunteering in Volunteers Centre Skopje, almost three years ago.
She decided to stay and now works as a multimedia coordinator for VCS while being a part-time eco-activist. Always up for a designing project or a cleaning action, our tall Finnish doesn’t mind getting down to business even if she ends up with dirty hands in the end. I guess you could see that one coming from a cleaning maniac that talks and sings to her plants…
“I want to stay here to contribute to a society full of beauty, and through Za Pochista we have a great potential to reach our goals”
Marko Gapo, 28
Marko’s long-time love for mountain hiking and exploring nature is what motivates him to act towards awareness about the environment and to inspire others to join the movement.
“Hey girl, are you trash? Because I wanna pick you up!”
Ewelina Chańska, 29
Being a Balkan maniac from Poland, Ewelina feels like home in Macedonia. And volunteering in Volunteers Centre Skopje allowed her to enjoy the country.
“Meeting with Za Pochista Makedonija gave me a purpose. I never imagined that cleaning other people’s shit would be this much fun.”
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist
What do we want to accomplish?
It is simple; the amount of trash that we can see on the streets of the cities, the garbage left behind on hiking trails and nature parks creates a need for the whole community to take action. We want to create a society in which everyone is aware of their actions, strives to be nature-friendly, does not ignore the problems that affect all of us and is always eager to help to solve social problems.
One of those problems is garbage pollution in green areas in and out of the cities – which may seem like a smaller issue but it has deep health negative impacts (read more here). Our future vision of Macedonia is a place where the citizens work as a community to assure a healthy home for all of us. We want to take a hike in the mountains without seeing nature covered with plastic bottles, and to see that everyone is setting an example with their life choices. Change begins with small actions. Read here how you can contribute (link to the tips).
How do we do it?
Anyone can take part in creating a green future. We can see the thirst of the young generation to change things and we are offering a platform – a community – to reach that goal.