Kosovar counterpart upcycles for the good of the earth—and his community

A non-profit director in Kosovo shows his organization's catalogue.
By Peace Corps
April 22, 2024

During this Earth Month, here’s a question to consider. Do you know how much textile waste ends up in landfills each year? According to this article on Earth.org, The answer is about 92 million tons worldwide. To make it easier to visualize how much that really is, imagine trash trucks filled with old clothing and other textiles. Now, imagine them taking turns dumping their loads over and over again—one entire trash truck of old clothing and fabric per second. That’s a lot of fast fashion. Worse, the same article notes that since many modern fabrics contain plastic (think spandex and polyester), the textile and clothing industries alone contribute about 10 percent of the total microplastics in the ocean.

As dedicated thrifters know, lots of old clothing and fabric can be cleaned and re-sold. The more that’s done—and the fabrics reused and upcycled—the more it stays out of landfills. That’s clearly a win. But what about the pieces of clothing and other textiles that can’t be cleaned or that are so beyond what anyone might buy? Does it just get thrown away?

Not so fast, says Urim Xharavina. He’s the executive director of an environmental protection organization in Kosovo whose mandate is to save all unwanted textiles from the landfill. He’s partnered with the Peace Corps for six years, and three Volunteers have spent their service years working with him to help him achieve his mission. The story of his organization—and how it’s helping the earth—can be seen in the video below.

April is Earth month, and that’s the perfect opportunity to look into ways that the Peace Corps, it’s Volunteers, and its partners and counterparts are working around the globe to mitigate the effects of climate change and reverse damage to our environment. In December 2023, Peace Corps unveiled its Strategy to Secure a Resilient Global Future, a strategy that positions the agency to recognize and combat the impacts of the changing global environment on the communities where Volunteers serve and intentionally make its operations more sustainable. The Peace Corps’ commitment to the environment isn’t new. In all the countries that Peace Corps partners with are Volunteers, counterparts, and partner organizations that have shown commitment, dedication, and ingenuity in facing down the climate crisis and making things greener for all of us. To explore other stories of climate change mitigation and green practices in the Peace Corps, check out these stories.

Adapting to climate change as a Peace Corps Volunteer

A lesson on mitigating climate change by a returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Climate change efforts go virtual (peacecorps.gov)

Environment (peacecorps.gov)

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