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If I am not mistaken, the GREENWILL initiative began its journey recently and already inspires companies to become more environmentally friendly in 25 countries around the world. Can you explain what GREENWILL is all about?
GREENWILL is a non-profit initiative which provides a platform for businesses and organizations (governments, schools, and associations) and individuals to embrace social responsibility and play a crucial role in achieving a greener planet. We provide our partners with simple steps to go green at the office. The ’green business model’ helps them bring down costs and maximize outputs. Applying cost-efficient and environmentally friendly methods help organisations increase their bottom lines, and furthermore, displaying the GREENWILL logo contributes to higher profits through increased patronage, as it represents an organisation’s commitment to environmentally conscious policies and practices.
What do you offer to registered organisations? What is their responsibility and how much does it cost?
Organisations are provided with simple and customizable steps to be greener. Our advice is free of charge and organisations do not pay any fees during the entire process, or ever. Once an organisation signs its Green Policy it commits itself to following environmentally friendly practices. Concurrently, organisations assign an in-house ‘Green Officer’ who contributes to the implementation of the Green Policy on a voluntary basis. The GREENWILL logo should be on the organisation’s website to let the world know of its desire to be Green and that it follows the principles of the Green Policy it signed. Green Officers should communicate with the organisation’s network and partners about becoming green. With the ratification of the Green Policy, the president of the organisation declares his commitment to a greener planet, although this is not a legally binding document.
How can individuals get involved?
Interns and volunteers are welcome all year long. You can become a member of the GREENWILL Development Team and work on project development, and assist companies with the implementation of the Green Policy. As a volunteer you can also contribute to our project through work on various activities. But if you do not have much free time and still would like to help, we have good news for you: you can show your support by donating via the many methods provided on the GREENWILL website.
I think one of the biggest challenges is changing the mindset of individuals who are not environmentally-conscious. If we want to ensure a positive environmental outcome, it’s essential to spread the achievements of those who have already become green. Is there a connection between a country’s environmental performance and the mindset of its citizens?
It is a complex question. For example, Scandinavian countries have already developed a green culture and while citizens are also committed to protecting the environment. In some countries, like Italy, the picture is not that homogenous. In the Northern provinces Italian families raise their children in the spirit of a ‘green lifestyle’, in order to sow the seeds of environmentally-conscious behaviour in the next generation. Meanwhile, in the Southern region, the situation is totally different: recently thousands of rubbish bags have ruined the landscape, however it was a government failure rather than the result of individuals. We have to mention that the ‘green movement’ is more than just being environmentally friendly. It includes a political ideology and also the broad topic of climate change. Climate change is an urgent issue in China, where smog rolls over the heads of metropolitan citizens as a dark cloud. Introducing massive restrictions and shifting peoples’ mentality is perhaps the only path to a greener future. From the examples mentioned, we can see that the ‘green movement’ influences both developed and developing countries.
What are your plans for the future? Will you continue to paint the world green from your office in Budapest?
Our aim is to continue the journey by spreading green practices and shaping peoples’ mindset in order to ensure a sustainable future. Since protecting the planet is a global mission, we would like all the countries of the world to hear our voice, regardless if they are developed or developing. We also have clear ideas of how to help going forward.
For example, we would like to be present during the creation of regulations concerning China as well during the implementation process after. We also would like to support development of green policies in Southern Europe outside the borders of the European Union. This region faces many challenges compared to Western Europe, but due to a bottom-up approach serious efforts have been made to tackle these problems, e.g. green schools were established in Albania. Local problems require local solutions coming from the cooperation of community members. We admire these initiatives but we also support initiatives coming from the Western world, such as Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the first carbon neutral capital in the world by 2025. We would like Sweden and Norway to get involved in the near future, but this is just a hope for the future. What is for sure is that our office in Budapest will serve as the international hub to drive the global campaign and also serve as a centre of expertise. Our Budapest hub will also foster local GREENWILL chapters around the world to better adapt our principles to local standards.
Finally, please leave a message for the youth!
Let’s colour the world together and shape it according to your ideas!
Written and translated by Maria Vandlik