By Mariusz Masłosz, Poland
Polish young people are involved in the issue of social justice. Increasingly active young people organise events to show decision-makers that they are not indifferent to this issue. In spite of the many occupations they face, they do not give up by turning up at successive protests in defence of the values they consider most important. The actions of the youth are beginning to have an effect.
One of the most recognisable youth movements in Poland is the Youth Climate Strike (Polish national group of Fridays For Future), of which I myself am a part. One of our demands is a just transformation of the economy. We see that the current economic system based on unlimited exponential growth is leading us to disaster, so we want to change it to one that is more friendly to society, and through this also to the climate and global biodiversity. We were among the first to talk about the intersectionality of climate change – it affects basically all relationships that exist on Earth and (to a greater or lesser extent) depend on them. Many actions attributed to individuals are in fact the effects of the toxic system we live in.
The social and solidarity economy can be implemented at various levels. Already on a local scale, many great initiatives are emerging, such as the Sharehouse, which is designed to exchange goods between members of local communities. Energy cooperatives are also being created, as in the Wrocław Południe housing estate, as well as community gardens. There is also increasing talk of sharing at a central level.
Young people are very often opposed to the neo-liberal market economy model. Their values are the wellbeing of others and the environment, not the ruthless pursuit of profit, hence they are looking for alternatives that make this possible. One solution is the social and solidarity economy, often unnamed but functioning in the consciousness of young people in Poland. Freeganism is becoming increasingly popular, resulting in the creation of social fridges. Young people (even those in a good financial situation) also often do not want to buy new things, preferring to exchange used things. A lot of people buy their clothes in second-hand shops or take part in so-called clothes swaps, and groups about swapping unnecessary things are also popular. One motivation is a desire to oppose the big corporations that run the world, while another is simply to support the local community. This shows that the social and solidarity economy can reach practically every person, provided the arguments are relevant to their beliefs.