Member Spotlight: Olya Sukhopar

Our Growth Specialist Olya Sukhopar brings such energy and positivity to her volunteer work with the PCC. Below, she shares her journey into environmental activism, her passion to reduce plastic waste, and her reflections on how environmental degradation and the climate crisis connect to the war in her native Ukraine.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in a small city in Ukraine. I moved to the United States when I was 19 years old. For almost 7 years I lived in NYC. I worked various jobs and then I went to college to study digital marketing. Now I work in marketing and really enjoy the work I do.

I am interested in learning new languages, discovering new cultures, volunteering, and reading.

How and when did you first become involved in environmental activism?

I have always been passionate about the environment. My grandparents had a pretty big piece of land where they grew vegetables and fruits, and I grew up helping them in their garden.

I learned the importance of taking care of the earth from a young age. When I moved to the United States, I was sad to see how much waste we produce, especially while working in the hospitality industry. I still remember how hard it was to grow food and how much effort it takes. This situation planted “sustainability” into my head. I also saw the effects of climate change firsthand, such as more extreme weather events and rising sea levels. These experiences inspired me become more proactive and start acting.

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Olya tabling for the PCC at an event last year.

In addition to your active role with The Parents’ Climate Community, you also serve as a core volunteer with The Plastic Reduction Project. Tell us a bit about that organization and its impact?

The Plastic Reduction Project (PRP) is a non-profit organization that helps local businesses adopt sustainable practices in their operations.

PRP offers free consultations to businesses, and provides resources and training. We currently focus on Austin area but recently we opened a Columbus (Ohio) chapter. I am very passionate about this project as plastic waste is having a devastating impact on the environment and is affecting the way that our kids will see the planet.

What are some of the connections you see between the war in Ukraine and environmental degradation? Why is it important for global citizens to become more aware of these connections?

The war in Ukraine is having a devastating impact on the environment. The use of heavy weapons is causing widespread pollution. The destruction of infrastructure leads to an increase in illegal dumping, the displacement of people is leading to an increase in deforestation, and many other effects.

It is important for global citizens to become more aware of the connections between war and environmental degradation because they can help to prevent further damage. We can protect our planet for future generations.

As for why it is important to be aware of these connections, the war in Ukraine is a complex matter but again it is a reminder of the importance of energy security. We need to find ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and develop cleaner sources of energy. Only after we can reduce our reliance on oil and make our economy more secure can we help protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.

With all that is heavy in the world, how do you take care of yourself? What are some of your favorite ways to rest and recharge?

I take care of myself by spending time in nature. I love to hike, camp, and spend time in the mountains. I also enjoy spending time with my dog, gardening, and meeting up with my friends and my family. These activities help me to relax.

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