This profile was prepared when Jacek Schindler was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Jacek's goal is to educate people about the need for more ecologically sound packaging of consumer products and the need for increased recycling. Ninety percent of his work is public education, but this groundwork has increasingly led to seeking concrete policy and economic changes. To achieve his goal, Jacek has created a mobile exhibit that he takes all over Poland. It shows the public various packaging options in an entertaining way and uses a creative combination of packaging materials to present a colorful presentation on the history of consumer packaging and its impact on the environment. People are attracted to the exhibit because of its entertainment value. However, while being entertained, they become aware of the need for an improvement in product packaging and for greater recycling. In addition, they learn the power they have as consumers to change these practices.The mobility of the exhibit allows Jacek to travel to the smaller towns and isolated rural villages of Poland and educate the people on the need for recycling and other environmental issues. This is very important because villages are often ignored by organizations attempting to raise environmental awareness. Jacek recognizes that the rural consumer accounts for 40 percent of the Polish consumer market and believes that meaningful change in consumer behavior can not occur until rural consumers begin to demand recycling programs and increased use of environmentally friendly materials.Jacek also organizes special programs and contests for school-age children. These contests and programs educate young people about the environment, while also being fun and enjoyable. As part of this work, he has written a childrens book on the environment, which has already sold over one million copies. Jacek has begun to organize a consumer action group, which is lobbying for stricter environmental legislation and government oversight of manufacturers. Polish manufacturers frequently misrepresent their products. He hopes that this citizens' group will grow with the help of his consumer awareness campaign and will be able to pressure the government and manufacturers to change their policies and behavior.