By Ramil Akmolin ’20 (Aktobe, Kazakhstan / Floresville, TX) 

Social media plays a huge role in today’s world. One platform can be everything at once: a photo album, a news portal, a magazine, or even a trendsetter. The latter has had a particularly huge influence in this era of modernization. That is exactly why Anel Zhuvanizhbayeva ’18 (Oskemen, Kazakhstan / Phoenix, AZ) initiated the “Eco-Booster Challenge.”  

In February, Anel utilized the Instagram platform and funding from the FLEX Alumni Grants Program to launch the project. Her challenge intended to increase awareness about global environmental issues online first and then to establish an “eco-friendly” trend in Kazakhstani society. Anel and five volunteers worked together to plan and construct unique tasks for the challenge, which were posted online for the span of two weeks. Winners of the challenges received eco-friendly everyday items such as eco bags, eco straws, and water bottles. 

The 48 participants of the challenge had to complete five different tasks. In the first week, participants were presented with three challenges:  

  1. Give Things Second Life. Participants were encouraged to find items to repurpose rather than to throw away. 
  2. Tell Your Friend. Participants had to post information about the importance of recycling and upcycling on their social media pages. 
  3. Recycle, Please! Participants had to post pictures or videos on their social media pages to show others how to recycle waste. 

The second week challenged participants to share information on recycling centers in their areas and cook vegetarian meals.  

One challenge – “Give things second life” – encouraged participants to upcycle and start re-using different items for additional purposes. This upcycling could be anything ranging from old candy wraps coming back as new bracelets to plastic bottles turning into pencil boxes. Participants completed the tasks and displayed the products on their social media pages, which followed with positive feedbacks both on the participants’ and the “Eco-Booster Challenge”  social media accounts.  

There were 14 winners overall, and many commented that, thanks to Anel’s “Eco-Booster Challenge,” they will continue to recycle and upcycle in order to be more environmentally conscious. There were 121 followers on the “Eco-Booster Challenge” Instagram page at the time of this article.