Gamarjoba and Moin, moin everyone!
(Hello in Georgian and in German in Hamburg)
Happy that you are here to read about my professional journey in the field of Sustainability! I hope it inspires you in your career journey if you are still looking for your future profession! Remember, important is to never give up, believe in yourself, and establish strategically step-by-step objectives on how to reach your career goal ;)
I completed a Master's degree in International Law with honors, My career journey did not start with an environmental Bachelor's or Master's degree, nor did I come from a family, in which members are working on sustainability, nor do I have a role model working in the packaging recycling field, everything happened suddenly. In 2020 I started work at an International Shipping Company in Georgia, and while I was observing that parcels and freight shipping is mainly related to importing countless cardboard packages in Georgia, which are not recycled and goes to landfill, I decided to act and I initiated, established and implemented the imported Packages Recycling project.
From time to time, I discovered that cardboard and packages recycling and upcycling topics, became my life passion, something that wakes me up daily. My project was working well, till one day the director of my partner project of the recycling company “Clean World Recycling. ge” informed me that the transported cardboard packages were mainly taped and the sortation technologies could not handle sorting and recycling properly. The same situation was in other recycling companies. I started looking for solutions and discovered the ISA scholarship, which was choosing 12 emerging sustainability leaders from developing countries, I immediately gained all relevant information and started applying for the ISA scholarship. The first year I was not accepted, but I improved my project and intensively worked for the second year and applied again. From the bottom of my heart, I knew that I would never give up and I would apply every year until I was accepted because the ISA opportunity would be exactly the one, where I could find solutions to the corrugated cardboard packages problem and recyclability as well as it would be for me an open for becoming a sustainability professional in the fields of packages recycling and climate change!
On the 12th of May, 2022 while I was landing in Stockholm for the first time and made a wish to be accepted at the ISA program, exactly as I landed I turned on wifi and saw an Email from ISA started with “CONGRATULATIONS” and I discovered hard-work, determination and never giving up attitude exists!
8 Months as a Sustainability Researcher at ISA
ISA opportunity was the first international working experience for me, and before going to Hamburg from my home, I was thinking about how I would cope with living independently, communicating with new people, and achieving positive results at work. How would I balance work and life? When I came to Hamburg, everything that I was worried about went! Because ISA Team provided us with full support, starting by picking us up from the airport in Hamburg, showing city, and providing full information on how to live easily in Hamburg. I met my colleagues from so many countries, and I discovered that I found such determined, motivated, and intelligent people, as I am. We were helping each other and supporting both in project development and private life.
As for my ISA project development, ISA managers supported and taught me a lot about sustainability project management, implementation, and connection with the UN SDGs. I participated in various climate protection workshops, read relevant sources, attended eminent and leading sustainability, recycling, and corrugated cardboard conferences and exhibitions in Europe, and conducted interviews with sustainability professionals. I gained knowledge, techniques, and tools from workshops, such as the Theory of Change in project management, Business Model Canvas, Customer Development Model, Design Thinking, Storytelling and Video Reporting, Intercultural Management and team building, Presentation and Presenting Techniques, Impact Measurement, and start-up system development in Hamburg, Berlin, and Germany. As a result, I created 79 pages for the ISA research project titled: "Cardboard Packaging Recycling System in Germany and the European Union and Its Impact on Climate Change." Which I am implementing in Tbilisi, Georgia.
During my stay in Hamburg, we worked together and maintained an amazing work-life balance. We had barbeques together, tours in the forest, working in the German Forests Association's first forest school, gatherings for sharing traditional dishes, and more.
ISA also provided us with German Language courses, which was crucial for me, as I love the German language in June 2023 I also passed the German examination B1 level in Goethe examination center in Berlin and took the certificate!
Time really flies! On the 27th of June, 2023 I came back to Tbilisi, Georgia, and started implementing my ISA research project.
In the framework of implementing my International Sustainability Academy (ISA) project,
1. I organized the conference on the 22nd of July and presented the results of my ISA project with multiple stakeholders, including representatives from my partner recycling company “Clean World Recycling. ge”, representatives of packages producer companies, journalists, researchers, students, and lecturers.
Information about the results of the ISA research project included the following:
- Negative consequences of non-recycled cardboard packages on the environment in Georgia.
- Acute problems of imported cardboard packages in Georgia and how freight and parcel importation affects the environment due to lack of recycling.
- How package recyclability is connected to the UN SDGs and why and how we should shift to sustainable corrugated cardboard packages to implement SDGs 12, 13, and 17.
- The best practices for corrugated cardboard packaging were studied in Hamburg, Germany, as well as in Italy, Denmark, and Austria.
- 4 interviews with sustainability professionals on the topic of "How to improve recycling and sustainable packaging in Georgia".
- Experience from 5 main conferences and exhibitions in the fields of cardboard, packaging, and recycling.
- Showcasing the best practices of Stadtreinigung Hamburg for recycling companies and interested individuals to implement in Georgia, including recycling reports, accurate brochures, the "Hamburg Cleans up" campaign, statistical tracking, website arrangement, and promotion among society.
- The pre-solution approach of establishing a second-hand shop and reusing various items before recycling is based on best practices from Stadtreinigung Hamburg.
- Highlighting the economic perspective of corrugated cardboard before and after recycling, as well as the reuse of properly shredded cardboard for transporting fragile items.
Experience from the "Impact Tour" in Hamburg, Germany.
- Providing more than 20 specific recommendations on how to start the cardboard package recycling process in Georgia.
2. I visited 1TV.ge, the oldest public TV in Georgia, and gave an interview to the radio program "Pikis Saati" to reach the media and disseminate information about the ISA project on July 24, 2023.
3. I completed the Research Project with specific recommendations. It will be published on the ISA website.
4. I translated the Research Project into Georgian language. It will be published on my ISA Alumni page soon.
In the future, I aspire to continue integrating video-storytelling in packages recycling, and sustainability topics to spread the best practices in the online world to be accessible for everyone as well as I also intend to establish a similar concept to the Futurium Museum in Berlin, but in the form of the Futurium Club in Tbilisi, Georgia. This club would allow members to discuss current problems and the future of packages and recycling, participate in upcycling/recycling workshops for packages and other materials, learn how to start their own businesses, identify environmental opportunities in Europe, and receive full scholarships to participate.
I hope you enjoyed my ISA journey! if you want to collaborate with me and/or need advice in your career journey, please write to me on my LinkedIn attached below on my Alumni page, and/or contact me via email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com