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Inspiring Stories

Fantastic Friday: Rossano Ercolini Edition

Photo © Goldman Environmental Prize

Photo © Goldman Environmental Prize

Love this story of Goldman Environmental Prize winner Rossano Ercolini, who’s been fighting to change Italy to adopt zero waste policies.

Today, Italian-born Rossano is recognised as the European winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize – the world’s largest prize for grassroots activists – for his significant work in tackling Italy’s mounting waste crisis and spreading a message of sustainable living across the globe. Thanks to his efforts, regions in Italy are achieving remarkable rates of recycling where once politicians had all but given up on the issue, such was the extent of dumping, fly-tipping and landfilling.

He began his journey in his hometown of Capannori in 1994 and the result?

“Capannori was the first council to adopt a ‘zero waste’ approach, and now boasts an excellent 80% rate of recycling. Before this, it was just 11%,” says Rossano, whose programme of waste education and awareness has resulted in 124 other councils in Italy developing their own zero waste strategies.

That being said, more than these results and successes, as well as his prestigious awards, I’m inspired by his journey….

The fact that he took up this cause as a 37 year old schoolteacher when no one else seemed to care about it.  The fact that he’s been working on this for 20 years.  The fact that he’s built support for his advocacy from the ground up, instead of top down (“I felt a duty to get involved with these important issues,” he says. “So I started to organise small information meetings around Capannori, progressing to bigger meetings.”).  The fact that he’s not satisfied by the success already garnered and still has his focus on the larger goal he set out many years ago (“Currently Naples is at a 30% recycling rate. We hope to get it to 50% by the end of the year. If it’s possible in Naples, then it’s possible anywhere!”).  The fact that despite the challenges and daunting obstacles to achieving this goal, he doesn’t use that as an excuse to not take up the cause…now.

As Rossano puts it perfectly, “Zero waste is not a destination, it’s a journey. We won’t complete it tomorrow, that’s obvious, but we have to start today.”

Isn’t that true about everything we seek to change?

Have a Fantastic Friday everyone!



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