Meet Alida Karakushi

By Eric Zencey, part-time mentor, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, School for Graduate Studies

October 5, 2012

Alida KarakushiAlida Karakushi '11, at left, a graduate of International Programs in Tirana, Albania, was instrumental in the initiative for a national ban on using plastic bag as food packaging in Albania. Her efforts were an outgrowth of a project completed in Visiting Associate Professor of Historical and Political Studies Eric Zencey’s class, "Ecological Economics: Principles and Policies." The final assignment in the study was to prepare a position paper on an environmental topic of interest, using the concepts learned in the course, to make a case for a new or improved policy.

Karakushi’s policy memo called for banning the bags, which contribute to litter and trash and are hazardous to aquatic life, especially sea turtles who mistake them for jellyfish. The memorandum was translated into Albanian and sent to government officials.

Beginning in January 2013, food products that now have contact with plastic-bag packaging, such as bread, cheese, meat, butter and sausages, will be sold in paper bags, according to Shqip Top Channel, an English-language news source in Albania, which further reported that the National Food Authority also has called for a citizen-awareness effort and that manufacturers of certain heavier-weight plastic bags will have to pay a fee.

“During the inspections, we noted that some cities have replaced the plastic bags with certified organic paper, but in Tirana, where there are a great number of citizens and businesses, this was seen on a much smaller scale,” noted NFA food inspector Manjola Vraja.

Karakushi said in a post to Zencey, "[I'm] very happy that finally the Albanian government approved the law banning the plastic bags from the circulation....[at] Korpusi i Vullnetareve Shqiptar (the Volunteer Corps of Albania) we are very glad to have influenced this decision! Our movement was embraced by intellectuals, students, the U.S embassy here [and] media and we acted in many plans to succeed. I can say that we made it in one of our goals, but there is still a lot to be done! Thank you professor for your help as well!"

Korpusi Vulinetareven Shquipta is active in cleaning up beaches, streams, lake shores and other sites contaminated by trash. That organization also helped work for the ban on plastic bags.

Zencey praised his former student: “Clearly she is an active, engaged and successful graduate who is putting the education she got as an Empire student to good use.”