The program was conceived by WWF Greece, guided by the urgent need to protect the environment through the direct involvement of citizens as well as the need for a radical transformation to popular mentality. According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of WWF Greece, 46% of Greeks believe that the environmental situation in Greece has deteriorated during the last three years, while 42% of the country’s citizens are willing to take part in community projects and 31% are willing to participate in actions related to the improvement of life in the city. In an effort to respond to the specific concerns of modern citizens, the main objective of the “Better Life” program is to mobilize Greek society and to raise awareness through open information campaigns, so that people are able to change their lifestyles and help reduce the country’s ecological footprint.
The program is based on two pillars:
• The first pillar of the program is based on school communities. Beginning from the school year 2013-2014, the main objective was to initially include approximately 65 schools (elementary and high schools) and a total of 6,500 students per year, as active members of the program’s network, so that they are able to take action to improve their lifestyle and transform their mentality towards the environment and their fellow citizens. Surpassing the program’s expectations, the number of registered schools across Greece has reached 85.
• The program’s second pillar is based on citizens and its objectives are: a) to introduce the concept of the “ecological footprint” to the largely unaware Greek public, b) to educate citizens and present them with possible alternatives to their lifestyle which reduce the cost of living while, at the same time, being beneficial for the environment, and c) to offer everyone a way to constructively contribute.
During the first five (5) months of implementing the “Better Life” program, the response from students and citizens who have participated in the program’s actions has been encouraging: 85 schools from all over Greece are now registered in the program along with 1,320 online members on the program’s website (www.kalyterizoi.gr), 1,100 participants in the first festival held in our country against food waste, and synergies including over 30 organizations from the whole spectrum of the active “civil society”.
Specifically, during the period between October 2013 and February 2014, 35 out of the total of 85 schools, undertook and completed actions to inform students and raise awareness about healthy eating, saving energy, proper consumer behavior and the promotion of urban green areas. Indicatively, in the context of the program’s implementation in schools, vegetable gardens were created in schools to familiarize students with the environment, and dozens of information campaigns took place on the subjects of food waste, the value of recycling and composting.
So far, the response of active citizens has been positive. Citizens have participated, among other things, in informational and recreational activities of the program. Indicatively, approximately 250 citizens have actively participated so far, in actions regarding the creation of urban green areas which took place under the program entitled “The Journey to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center”, in five municipalities of Attica (Haidari, Athens, Halandri, Keratsini, Ilioupoli).
John Zervakis, Chief Operating Officer of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Athens Office reports: “Driven by the citizens and their need to actively participate and create positive social impact, the Foundation is proud to support the ‘Better Life’ program. The fact that the program has already been proved a success fills us with optimism. It proves that citizens are interested, and that they act and cooperate to establish a more educated and active civil society.”
“The objective of Better Life is to become a hub of information and a call for action to improve everyday life for all of us. Even though Greece is undergoing a crisis, we are still capable of transforming our way of life and of building a new, collective, sustainable narrative for our daily lives with the citizens of today but also the citizens of tomorrow as our allies. That is what Better Life will strive to accomplish, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation which is the exclusive supporter of the program”, says Achilleas Plitharas, head of the “Better Life” program at WWF Greece.
The inauguration of the program’s newest chapter entitled “Better Nutrition” will take place on March 13th, with an emphasis on the Mediterranean diet, on the connection between food, health and lifestyle, on healthy food and on the environmental footprint of different foods.
For more information about the program and its actions and initiatives, visit the following website: http://kalyterizoi.gr/.
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