Anna Gubareva
Founder, City Friends Club

‘Our mission is to introduce and support efficient waste collecting infrastructure in Limassol and its surroundings, encourage eco-friendly practices and reduce future waste pollution in Cyprus. We are building a waste-collection infrastructure, which we believe is very much needed in Limassol and the rest of the island’

Anna Gubareva is the Founder of City Friends Club, a non-profit organisation that is taking steps to reduce waste and achieve sustainability of the metropolitan areas of Cyprus. The organisation’s work includes the daily cleaning and waste collection in Limassol, as well as inclusive educational programmes that raise awareness about recycling and waste disposal.

As a non-governmental organisation aimed at keeping our cities and neighbourhoods clean, you plan to organise various activities that will address the issue of waste management. Tell us about these.
“A year ago, during our first meetings with the core team, we chose our three main directions: cleaning, education, and innovation. Today, our strategy has tilted towards education and volunteer programmes. Basically, we understood that we could be a hub where people and organisations could meet and collaborate to make a bigger impact that will help create an eco-friendly future, at the same time adopting smart solutions that reduce waste within their prospering communities.
As for cleaning, we are due to launch our daily cleaning programme. Our main target is to tackle waste on the streets. We are building a waste-collection infrastructure, which we believe is very much needed in Limassol and the rest of the island.”

Plastic pollution in oceans and other bodies of water continues to grow sharply and could more than double by 2030, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). How will City Friends Club contribute to the campaigns of fighting plastic waste in Cyprus?
“Unfortunately, plastic is everywhere, however plastic is not an awful material. The problem is how we use it. We promote a conscious lifestyle, teaching people about zero-waste, recycling, reusing, and all these things through our various programmes and social media platforms.”

How can we help the next generation better understand how their decisions and actions affect the environment?
“There is a saying that, ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children and grandchildren.’ Hence, we should ask ourselves this question: What kind of earth will we ‘give back’ to our children?
Our responsibilities lie not only in restoring our heavily damaged environment, but also in teaching the younger generations to appreciate and love the environment as early as they can, in hope that they will not repeat the same mistakes that we did. Therefore, parents and family pose a central role in providing a fun learning environment for kids to learn about nature and the world they live in, to make them love and appreciate other living creatures besides humans, and to make them willing to take care of our one and only earth that will, in return, take care of us, too.
It is very important to teach and instil basic universal values to children as early as possible, including being responsible with the waste that they produce. When children begin practicing the waste values that we have taught, and perform the same thing daily, it will become a habit. After we implement both the routine and ritual, parents and children need to sit together and discuss about boundaries or the dos and don’ts. Therefore, let us start teaching our kids to be responsible with the waste that they produce, so that the younger generations will care more about nature and the environment.”

Tell us about your team, and your plan of action for 2022.
“A few of our team members are not from Cyprus, so when they first arrived on the island, they struggled to understand how to recycle, purchase eco-friendly products, etc. We realised that it would be beneficial if there were an online platform with all the information one might need to become eco-friendly in Cyprus.
We are currently working on our website, building a library of knowledge that will create awareness effectively throughout Cyprus and educate local communities on the importance of sustainable consumption and production. A significant majority of Cypriots are intent on learning more about humanity’s impact on the environment, and what they can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Through City Friends Club, we would like to empower learners of all ages with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to address the interconnected global challenges we are facing, including climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty, and inequality. We must prepare people all ages to find solutions for the challenges of today and the future. Our programmes for 2022 will be transformative and will allow individuals to make informed decisions and take action to change our societies and care for the planet.”