Changing mindsets and behaviors often requires small yet impactful steps. In Gračanica/Graçanicë municipality, the USAID Recycling Matters Activity has supported marginalized communities that traditionally worked in sanitation to introduce formal recycling models and change the way their community handles waste.
In the village of Laplje Selo/Llapllasellë, over 150 households and 50 small businesses are actively recycling.
This remarkable shift in behavior was the result of a strategy that entailed comprehensive community education, consistent stakeholder consultations, and essential support from local institutions. An extensive awareness campaign was launched to illuminate the multitude of environmental and economic advantages of recycling, including community gatherings and a door-to-door outreach initiative that reached every residence and enterprise.
During this campaign, the USAID activity helped to distribute dedicated bins for recyclables. Sebahate Pula, a Laboratory Chemist and a resident in Gračanica/Graçanicë municipality, was an early adopter. "It brings me joy to witness recyclable materials finally finding their place,” Sebahate recently stated. The collection of the municipality’s newly segregated recyclables has been entrusted to informal waste collectors from Kosovo's marginalized Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities. By partnering with the municipal government, these communities are expanding their role in the formal economy and seeing increased economic benefits.
The Recycling Matters Activity in Gračanica/Graçanicë is spearheaded by the local organization Democracy Plus. By partnering with local government, civil society, and Roma, Egyptian, and Ashkali communities, USAID is supporting sustainable inclusive models to expand economic benefits and environmental stewardship in the region.