ZeroWaste hopes to create a sustainable future for Kurdistan

“Through raising awareness, you can change the mentality of the people.”
Evin Ghazi Harris, one of the founders of the Zero Waste (Photo: Evin Ghazi/ZeroWaste)
Evin Ghazi Harris, one of the founders of the Zero Waste (Photo: Evin Ghazi/ZeroWaste)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Evin Ghazi Harris, a co-founder of the ZeroWaste Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), founded in 2021, is dedicated to raising awareness about the perils of climate change and environmental pollution among the residents of the Kurdistan Region.

“We have decided to take this initiative to create a sustainable future for Kurdistan, as you can see, not only in Kurdistan, but in all of the world. Climate change is a dangerous issue and we have to take immediate action today in order to save the future,” she told Kurdistan 24.

“So we have done several activities such as planting campaigns, cleanup activities, and education campaigns. My main focus is on that because through raising awareness, you can change the mentality of the people.”

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Up until now, a significant number of citizens in the Kurdistan Region continue to litter when disposing of trash, exacerbating the issue. Much of the littering is done by picnickers that frequently leave behind substantial amounts of trash in the natural surroundings of the Kurdistan Region.

“They don’t clean the place after an outdoor visit. So we have to change this mentality in order to make a positive change in our community.”

“We have to change the policy from the first step to raise awareness of the dangers behind what will happen in 10 years in Kurdistan and how to create a caring community. So I have started by raising awareness in elementary school in universities for the young people and sharing my skills and experience to add value to their skill as well.”

Read More: US Consul General joins cleanup activity in Erbil

Last year, the then-US Consul General Robert Palladino participated in a cleanup effort together with ZeroWaste and other volunteers, which was supported by the American Corners and the US consulate.

Ghazi Harris hoped this “motivated and inspired others to do similar activities as well. So my main goal here is to inspire others and to be a role model for young people in my community.”

She added that in other countries there are many volunteering activities to cleanup and advertisements to protect the environment. “But here in Kurdistan we don't have that many environmental activities.”

Moreover, ZeroWaste has developed an action plan to reach out to other organizations, not just in Erbil, but also other cities in Kurdistan to work together and protect the environment. 

ZeroWaste has also worked with a recycling company. “We have placed some space in public places just for plastics. So they have collected all the plastics and they will recycle it again to be used for the construction.”

Furthermore, the organization plans to do more cleanup activities in the future.

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In April, ZeroWaste also published a Kurdish story book for new and future generations of children that will add value to their knowledge about the environment.

“This book contains stories of children who are making a difference in Kurdistan. It explores the story of two friends and how they are striving to enact change in their community or champion a cause they are passionate about. This is the perfect book for any young person looking for ideas and inspiration to make a change in the environmental sector.”