Almost 250 eco-managers work in the municipalities of Malopolska. They are specialists who, on a daily basis, help residents obtain subsidies to replace old stoves. They visit schools, where they successfully share their knowledge about renewable energy sources and air quality. Meet Mateusz Bródka, Eco-manager in the Commune of Stryszów – winner in the National Knowledge Test of Local Government Units about clean air.
Congratulations on being among the top three in the National Clean Air Knowledge Test of Local Government Units! How do you evaluate your participation and was the result of the competition a surprise to you?
Thank you very much. At the beginning of the test, I had minor problems connecting and displaying the questions. However, I was able to fix everything in time. After the first 10 questions, my name was not in the top 10 people. I can’t hide the fact that I felt discouraged at that time, but I didn’t give up. After 20 questions I was already 9th, and this encouraged me. I thought “I have a chance to be one of the winners”, I focused and gave it my all. At the end, when I saw my name on the third position, at first I couldn’t believe it, and then I felt immense joy and pride that I had made it after all.
What convinced you to participate in the competition?
I wanted to test my knowledge. I had never taken part in similar contests before and was curious to see if I could do it. Participation in the test was free of charge, with attractive prizes, so I thought “why not give it a try?” and signed up.
How long have you been working as an Eco-manager and what was your career path like?
I have been working as an Eco-manager since March 2020. At that time, our municipality joined the implementation of the LIFE integrated project entitled: “Implementation of the air protection program for the Małopolska region – Małopolska in a healthy atmosphere”. I started my professional work quite early, while I was still a student. I started at a position in a call center as a telephone consultant in one of Krakow’s companies. Later I was promoted to a position in the back office as a specialist. I always wanted to work with and for people, so my next step was an internship at the Police Station. After completing my internship, I found out about a vacant position at the Stryszów Municipality Office, I was accepted and have been working here continuously for several years.
„Our eco-manager is also a great organizer. Residents of the Stryszów municipality eagerly participate in the meetings that Mr. Mateusz organizes. Meetings with residents, as well as classes on environmental issues conducted with children in schools, are very popular. Residents are eager to take advantage of free tests with a thermal imaging camera. We have already performed dozens of free measurements. I am glad that thanks to these activities our municipality is becoming more and more environmentally friendly.” – summed up Stryszów Commune Head – Szymon Duman.
You organize many pro-environmental activities in the municipality of Stryszow. How do they affect the environmental awareness of the residents?
The pro-environmental activities that I carry out increase the environmental awareness of the residents of our municipality, change their habits and attitude towards ecology. I extend my activities to senior citizens, adult residents of the municipality, as well as children and schoolchildren. However, I mainly focus on children and schoolchildren. I follow the principle “what a shell soaks in its youth, the more ecological it will be in the future”. Children are valuable listeners who have already more than once changed their parents’ or grandparents’ approach to the subject of ecology. It is worth investing in their knowledge and developing it.
A great score in the nationwide test proves the high level of your knowledge of ambient air protection. How are you improving your skills?
I try to keep up to date, read a lot and look for useful information. In July this year, I completed postgraduate studies in air protection and energy at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow defending my thesis entitled “Impact of air pollution on human health and life”. In addition, I participate in various classroom trainings and webinars on the topics of low emissions, air protection, environmental solutions and environmental education.
You deal with many people on a daily basis. How do you convince them to take action to improve air quality?
Every day on my way I meet different people, of different social status, both younger and older people. With some the conversation goes more easily, with others much harder. Sometimes it is difficult to change the mentality of some people on the subject of ecology. For this there is no golden mean – you have to try. First of all, I try to explain to my interlocutors the sense of caring about improving air quality, its impact on our entire planet and the changes taking place on it. I do this through various meetings, one-on-one conversations or events in which I participate on behalf of the office. I often make use of publicly available data on the impact of polluted air on respiratory diseases, or other illnesses caused or aggravated by being in a place where there are exceedances of harmful substances in the air.
And how do you convince people to change non-environmental stoves?
For those operating old inefficient heating devices, I try to present the advantages and benefits of replacing them and point out their not inconsiderable impact on the environment. In addition, I show my interlocutors various possibilities of financing investments for air protection. These include, for example, investments in the installation of ecological heating devices, renewable energy sources or thermo-modernization of buildings.