The bright flowers on her summer dress stands in stark contrast to the muted colors of the building. Like a small ray of sunshine peeking through the clouds on a rainy day she does her daily rounds, her two children in tow. First a trip to the cellar of a neighbourhood bar, which after a lot of convincing have begun donation their discarded cardboard boxes for her to take. Next a short stop at the bin that she has placed at the bottom of the stairwell. Here her neighbours and like minded individuals can leave their empty bottles. From there she goes to the impromptu sorting station that she has build outside her small flat. Thought seemingly chaotic, everything has a set place here - aluminum cans in an old plastic bin, bottles on one half of a shelve, feathers on another.

Her name is Natalia, and though she doesn't have much, she is truly committed to making a change in the world that surrounds her.
"I work as an economist for the government, but it is such a time now that you don't earn a lot, and, to be honest, it became very hard for me morally to work and not do anything else. Especially taking into account that there are so many social problems in our life that you don't know how to fight them and how to react."
The apartments lie closely together along the narrow corridor, the linoleum on the floor peeling of and exposing the old wooden planks underneath. Standing on opposite ends of the long gallery that lines the inner courtyard of the building, two elderly women have a loud conversation. On their way back inside the building one of them passes the sorting station, without a single glance.

Kicking down the door, and opening people's eyes to what happens around them is the biggest issue that Natalia has faced in her attempts to make a difference.

"We have a problem with people's complete indifference to the station. People fence themselves off behind their apartment doors, and unfortunately, they don't seem to care," says Natalia.
"If you're just going to sit there and complain about being poor and unhappy, and keep saying that you're have bad luck, and your life sucks, nothing is going to change. Some people will say you're a bum, others will say you're out of your mind, but there will be people who understand that this an idea that is worth fighting for."
- Natalia
She says it herself - she lives like a bit of a bum.

Inside the tiny apartment the air is still. Like in a dystopian still life painting withering flowers make up the centerpiece of the chaotic dinner table. Here empty glass jars and kids drawings fight with the remnants of dinner, for a seat at the table. No matter where you turn there is something, and no surface is left uncovered. There is a sort of sad beauty to it all.

Nothing goes to waste, and everything can either be recycled or turned into a fun activity for her children. An old piece of styrofoam together with small pieces of cloth becomes an art project, and an old plastic cannister becomes a fun "worm farm" for the children to take care of.
They are the center of her life, and the starting point of her activism. It started with the small things, as a way of entertaining her two kids. As a single mother of two children, with a low income, it's hard to make ends meet even in Ukraine. Going to the cinema or an amusement park on the weekends could easily cost 200 to 300 hvryvnia, an extravagant expense that is simply unaffordable for her.

So the Lviv City Eco Naturalistic Centre became their go-to weekend activity. Entry here is free for all, and at the small petting zoo the children can play with ponies, lamas, ostriches, crocodiles, snakes, parrots, and a wide variety of other animals. Going to the centre every weekend opened Natalias eyes up to the amount of organic waste that she carelessly threw away everyday.

"When you take a cabbage head and start cutting it, and there are leaves on the outside that you won't eat, because they are dirty. This is just a part of people's everyday practice. Leaves, rolls, and potato peels, we throw them away. So we started collecting everything we could get our hands on, and found that it was valuable."
Like water hitting a dam, the recyclable materials constantly flow into the apartment, thought it seems as though it is almost at breaking point. Everything is collected, examined and then put to the best possible use.

The few recycling stations in Lviv will often only accept recyclable materials if there is more than a certain amount. So Natalia collects and collects until she has enough. In return she gets a little bit of money. Money that can go towards a little treat for the kids or towards food for the animals at the centre.

So Natalia keeps making her rounds. Like a ray of sunshine, brightening her sourroundings every small step of the way.
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