Raising awareness on sustainability through educating people on zero waste – this is the primary goal for “Skopje goes Zero Waste”, a social enterprise selling products from small domestic producers, without or with reusable packaging.
For North Macedonia’s capital, this type of store is a novelty, and for its founders, the whole concept of encouraging a lifestyle that ensures as many products and materials are reused, aims to raise awareness among Skopje residents on the many sustainable alternatives that are out there.
The initiative is led by Skopje-based NGO activist and zero waster Marija Arsoska, together with business development manager Dejan Veljanov, and marketing and research expert Tea Strasevska.
In March this year, the “Skopje goes Zero Waste” concept was chosen as one of the winners of the first generation of the RISE program for social entrepreneurs organized by the Association for Social Innovation ARNO.
The RISE journey is an open call for young people in North Macedonia that have ideas or innovative solutions for a new and improved approach to nature, education, women’s empowerment, culture, rural development, health, or employment.
As one of the winning teams, “Skopje goes Zero Waste” received financial support of €2,500 and additional mentoring and expert support within the incubation phase.
“For a long time, I thought that recycling was the solution to all our problems until the COVID-19 quarantines and curfew periods started. Then, I started noticing how much waste we produce at home.” Arsoska explains.
“Hence, my passion for zero waste was born and my biggest wish is for Skopje to have a place where people can be educated, where they can shop consciously, and get acquainted with these values while reducing the amount of waste they produce every day,” she tells The Recursive.
A small step for empowering people to live sustainably
“We don’t need a few perfect environmentalists, but millions of daily imperfect conscious decisions. We will actively work on raising awareness among the citizens to reuse everything they have in the home before buying new products; to fix things before throwing them away; to refuse any free flyers or gifts they do not need.” Arsoska tells The Recursive.
Landfills and waste incineration are becoming some of the biggest issues for Skopje’s residents during the last few years, especially during the summer, when the black smoke from the landfills depletes oxygen reserves in the city.
For Arsoska, the zero waste concept could also help alleviate these pressing issues.
“We strongly believe that this zero waste store will encourage everyone interested in sustainable living to make conscious shopping decisions and reduce the waste they produce. The effect will be multiplied by the fact that the consumers will not only be reducing their own waste, but they will also contribute towards taking less waste to the landfills.” Arsoska tells The Recursive.
“We will be here to provide all that information and encourage people to make small changes every day,” she concludes.