This profile was prepared when Zdzislaw Nitak was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Zdzislaw targets his environmental awareness campaign to urban households, an area much neglected by Poland's nascent environmental movement. His focus is on changing people's daily habits regarding consumption patterns and resource conservation. He believes that as consumers, we can influence the future and make a serious impact on local environmental policy and quality of life--and that Poles need to be convinced of this.His consciousness-building program currently focuses on four urban municipalities, and consists of two principal branches: youth education and adult workshops for families, government officials, and public service leaders. In schools, Zdzislaw is responsible for designing new curricula and producing new literature that emphasizes the connections between daily habits and environmental protection. In the community, he builds teams of citizens for training in environmentally safe living. Each household fills out a survey on consumption before and after the meetings and is shown in concrete terms how to lower environmental damage caused by the family. At the same time, these techniques have the immediate effect of lowering consumer costs--and for this reason Zdzislaw believes that his ideas will spread quickly.Zdzislaw's programs and materials reflect methods which actively involve participants in concrete activities--composting, environmentally safe shopping, recycling, etc. He believes in the power of a good example, and is already working on new avenues for the growth of his programs to the business community.