What can young people do to confront our “throw it away” society?
Through the Mutter Erde initiative, Generation Earth not only trained a group of young leaders, but also launched a series of projects, which are planned, organised and implemented by the young participants. Following the motto “Use it instead of waste it,” the projects focused on topics such as plastics, overconsumption, and waste avoidance and covered the spectrum from awareness raising, political action to corporate responsibility.
The Action Leader Training – from individual actions to global movements
“Young people are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also today!” Under this motto, WWF and Generation Earth supported 30 young people aged 15-25 years in completing an intensive 9-month training as co-trainers and participants. During this training program, they were able to develop their leadership and project management skills and gain a deep insight into the topics of plastics, waste, and the throwaway society.
What do participants say about the training?
Anna: “Every path at Generation Earth is different, but one thing I can promise: In the end, you’re not the same person you were before – in the best possible way.”
Itzi: “Generation Earth is a family in which you are accepted from the first minute. Generation Earth offers you the opportunity to share enthusiasm, knowledge, ideas and worries and to exchange ideas with others”.
Here they are – our projects from 2018/2019:
Thanks to the support of Mutter Erde initiative, we were able to organize an inspiring 3-day “project-a-thon” at the beginning of the project season. From the long weekend at the beginning of January, a total of 17 project ideas were conceived, and of these, 12 have already been implemented. For example:
- Art4Change: Christina, Nathalie, Nadine and Sanda along with 4 young artists created this project that looked at “How art and environmental activism overlap?” Through a 6-day camp, they led a group to discover their own creativity and at the same time deepen their connection to nature. Their Art4Change Camp happened in August in the Danube Floodplains National Park.
- Youth4Responsibility: Jakob, conceived of and implemented this corporate responsibility project on his own with the goal to allow other youth to create e-mails from ready-made templates on a specially designed website and send them to the Lidl customer service. The aim was to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Lidl Austria in marketing and providing multi-purpose packaging and to put pressure on those responsible. Over 100 Generation Earth members seized this opportunity and urged Lidl Austria to rethink their practices.
- Let’s talk about plastic! Juliane, together with teammates in Germany, organized a week-long work camp where the participants were able to expand their knowledge about plastics and were actively involved in a sustainability project.
- (re)Connect2Nature Workshop: Whilst using the theme of plastic and consumption as a central focus, Nina, Juliane and Sara organized a 4-day retreat to give participants the space to “recharge” and get in touch with their inner responses to the current climate and environmental crisis. While doing so, participants recognize and deepen their interconnectivity, learn some useful practices to take away and realise that nobody alone, has to carry the world’s problems on his/her/their shoulders.
- Linzer Umwelttreff: Itzi and Christina were all about creating an opportunity for connection and networking! During regular meetings in Linz, Upper Austria the group learned many facts about the environment and plastics that had been unknown until then.
ABOUT MUTTER ERDE:
MUTTER ERDE is an association of ORF and Austria’s leading environmental and nature conservation organisations – Alpenverein, BirdLife, GLOBAL 2000, Greenpeace, Naturfreunde, Naturschutzbund, VCÖ and WWF. Each year, a different relevant environmental topic is placed at the centre of the joint activities. The aim is to create awareness for the environment, to encourage people to act and to support environmental and nature conservation projects.
Our message communicated through this year’s project is: “Youth can make a difference to address our throwaway society, and through the snowball effect get others to become active as well.”