This is part of a new regular series on Planet Change called “Your Climate Stories,” where we share reader stories about changes to the planet that they’re seeing, and actions that they are taking in their daily lives to help reduce carbon pollution and respond to the impacts of our changing planet.
If you have a climate story, please send it, along with any of your photos and videos, to us here.
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
After graduating with a B.A. in Business Administration from John Cabot University in Rome, Italy in 2005, I found a job importing granite from China to my native Bulgaria. It was a work trip to China, when a business partner showed me the cruel treatment of animals destined for fur coats, which triggered my desire to get involved in the environmental industry. I’ve always recycled and I was brought up to respect nature, but that experience motivated me into heavy-duty action.
After moving to Dubai in 2008, I became more and more passionate about the environment, working for a company which recycles electronics and refrigerants. In the summer of 2010, I launched a Facebook page called Our Breathing Planet. I contacted Facebook recently and they told me that it’s now the biggest non-profit environmental page on Facebook in the Middle East. When you’re genuinely passionate about something positive, it inspires people. Now I have more than 4,500 fans.
In an acknowledgement of my leadership efforts in the environmental field, I was selected to participate in the first Renewable Energy Expedition to Antarctica. In March 2011, I joined a team of international experts from Shell, CLP Group, Duke Energy, National Geographic, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Green Building Council, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency among others.
The expedition was organized by the environmental group “2041″ and led by the American Council on Renewable Energy. The founder of “2041″, Robert Swan, Officer of the British Empire, is a renowned environmentalist and the first person in history to walk to both Poles. As our team stood in awe before the remnants of the Larsen B ice shelf, camped on snow beside seals and penguins, dove in sub-zero waters, and hiked volcanoes, we realized we were part of a supportive environment with an incredible pool of knowledge and decision-making power.
We were ripped out of our comfort zones, which led to a transformational experience where the extremity of the surroundings dug deep in our hearts and motivated us to leverage our joint efforts even more. The severe yet pristine and fragile environment of Antarctica forced us to step out of our everyday habits and look from outside at the challenges we face. The shared experience re-ignited our passion to power through challenges and inspired us to redouble our efforts to be sustainable leaders within our communities and companies.
The expedition was intense. We spent two weeks on a ship, hiking volcanoes, having workshops, taking samples and measurements and testing renewable energy in one of the harshest climates on Earth. It was such an incredible opportunity for me to join these experienced people and learn so much from them.
I decided to follow this experience up with an MBA at INSEAD starting this month. I am still active in the 2041 community, and my ambition is to become involved in conservation programs on an international scale. It’s easy to stay part of the crowd, but it is incredibly more rewarding to stick to your own beliefs and power on for a good cause, despite all odds.
Photos courtesy of Zornitza Hadjitodorova and Our Breathing Planet.
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