EARTH DAY: Pioneering NGO Advancing Circular Economy in Kosovo

Published: Apr 22, 2024 Reading time: 3 minutes
EARTH DAY: Pioneering NGO Advancing Circular Economy in Kosovo
© Foto: Tim Jenkins
Social and technological leaps may appear to occur overnight, but they are actually the result of years of hard work by dedicated teams. In Kosovo, Let’s Do It Peja (LDIP) exemplifies this enduring commitment. Leading a revolutionary charge, LDIP is at the forefront of advancing a circular economy, aiming to protect the environment while simultaneously fostering economic growth.

At the helm of LDIP is Urim Xharavina, a visionary whose dedication to sustainable practices is as vast as the mountains surrounding Peja. Under his guidance, LDIP, in partnership with People In Need, is an instrumental part of the Circular Economy for Green Transition (CE4GT) Project. Supported by the European Union and the Czech Republic's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this initiative strives not only to reform but to revolutionize Kosovo’s approach to waste, particularly focusing on the prevalent issue of textile waste.

"Our goal is ambitious," Urim states.

"By 2030, we aim to completely eradicate textile waste, the fourth largest environmental polluter in our country."

Not only is textile waste a problem in Kosovo, but it also represents a global environmental catastrophe. Every year, out of 100 billion garments produced, 92 million tonnes are discarded into landfills, equivalent to dumping a garbage truck's load of clothing every second. If this pattern persists, fast fashion waste is projected to escalate to 134 million tonnes annually by the decade's end.

"It turned out focusing on textile waste was the right choice," Urim explains. "It was a turning point for us in demonstrating that waste can indeed be transformed into wealth."

From waste to fashion

To combat waste, LDIP has implemented a practical and community-centered approach. They've installed collection boxes in strategic locations across Prishtina, Peja, and Gjakova where locals can deposit unwanted textiles. The collected materials embark on a journey of transformation—textiles in good condition find new life in thrift shops, fostering a culture of reuse.

The materials unsuitable for resale are not discarded; instead, they inspire creativity.

"We collaborate with art school students to repurpose these textiles into fashionable items and practical products like tote bags," Urim shares.

This initiative not only minimizes waste but also nurtures a thriving local creative economy. LDIP’s collaboration with the local arts school helps equip the next generation of fashion designers with the skills to be environmentally conscious. Through this partnership, students learn to transform waste into innovative fashion, promoting sustainability in design and production.

Further exploring the potential of discarded textiles, LDIP is also pioneering the production of innovative tiles and bricks from materials that can no longer be used. These products, currently in the demonstration phase, promise excellent insulation properties, both thermal and acoustic, although full-scale production awaits further funding for material analysis.

The untapped potential of waste

As Earth Day prompts reflection on our environmental impact, Urim’s call to action is clear:

"Waste is not just waste; it's untapped potential. Embracing circular economy principles can significantly benefit both the environment and the economy."

He emphasizes the critical role of young people, whose fresh perspectives and innovative ideas are vital for driving change.

Through initiatives like those led by LDIP, Earth Day’s message of environmental stewardship and sustainability is achievable.

In Kosovo, there is a future where economic and environmental interests are not just aligned, but are mutually reinforcing. This Earth Day, LDIP stands as a beacon of hope and a model for sustainable development, proving that small changes can indeed make a world of difference.

About the project: The Circular Economy for Green Transition (CE4GT) Project is a three-year initiative that contributes towards the transition to a more circular economy in Kosovo. The project is funded by the European Union, co-funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and implemented by the People in Need and Let’s Do It Peja!.

Autor: Tim Jenkins, Regional Representative for Western Balkans

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