We are well into the second month of 2022, and while some of the green resolutions made at the start of the year are no doubt blossoming, others are being tested, while some will have been abandoned.
Wicklow environmentalist Alex Koneiczka is already on track to make this year his greenest yet.
Alex started his own company, called Understory, “to rebel against the current business model of making and wasting”.
Operating on circular and zero-waste principles, she diverts materials from landfills to create products – like terrariums, planters and bee houses – that connect people to nature.
She explained: “I have an online store where I sell zero waste products. I use reclaimed materials, I go around the community to see what people throw away. There is always something to work with.
“Nothing I use is toxic or chemical. It’s kind of an adventure. I can’t just go to the store and buy something, I have to go find it. lots of things that I can’t get rid of because I will use them one day. I never consider trash as trash.
Alex’s childhood in Łódź, Poland shaped his desire to grow his business in Ireland.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, so we cared about everything,” she said. “It was like that with a lot of families, you were passing things on and not just throwing things away. I live with that philosophy to this day. People respect that and see their own values in it too.”
Prior to founding Understory, Alex worked at Accenture, where she tried to find ways to make the workplace greener.
But Alex reached a turning point in his life two years ago after becoming seriously ill with septic shock.
“I may not have succeeded,” she said. “But from then on, I said I won’t delay, I won’t block myself, I want to be who I want to be. I always said ‘this is not the time, I don’t I’m not ready to do this’ So I think that was the most defining moment, I was like ‘this is the time’.
“Since then I’ve been trying to take the journey that I want to take and through that and the support that I’ve had from some lovely people that I have Understory.”
She added, “The feeling I get from working with waste and knowing I’m having an impact is the most wonderful thing I can feel, and it makes you a better person for your family and friends. I think it’s using your good living.”
In our “Climate Heroes” series of reports, we shine a light on the people who are taking action to protect our environment and fight climate change. Although these people come from all walks of life, they share a common goal of improving the world around us.