We talked to Sara Popescu Slavikova of Greentumble on how they provide online environmental education and here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sara Popescu Slavikova: We have been doing well. Our situation this year has been slightly different from most families, as the outbreak of the pandemic caught us waiting for the arrival of our first child.
As you can imagine, in the past months, we have been rather adjusting to the new life with a baby and did not feel much affected by the lockdown measures, since we did not plan to attend many social events or travel with a newborn. It gave us some nice private family time and quiet time to adjust without feeling any social pressure guilt.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Greentumble.
Sara Popescu Slavikova: I have been raised on a farm in the rural environment in a family that cherishes nature. It came naturally that I have been interested in environmental protection, education and sustainable living.
Throughout my environmental studies, I thought where my next career steps should lead and got this idea with my husband to start our own blog about the environmental education for people who would like to learn more about this topic. This was in 2015. We have been working on our blog since then.
How does Greentumble innovate?
Sara Popescu Slavikova: Our work aims at providing online environmental education for students, homeowners and small farmers. While working with a small budget from our personal resources, we have to be smart about our choices when it comes to the project’s progress. We have big ambitions which are also costly, so we constantly look for more practical and affordable solutions as a compromise.
That’s why so far the main area of our innovation has been the easy navigation through our content, credibility, nice overview of the problems people seek and regular update of the facts we state. We focus on making the website run smoothly to increase numbers of users and keep up with the ever-changing search engine algorithm.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sara Popescu Slavikova: The first wave of the pandemic has significantly decreased the number of visitors we have seen on our blog. We attribute this fact to the shift of focus of people hit by the panic and uncertainty.
However, with the arrival of the summer, things stabilized and returned to normal for us.
It did affect our yearly stats and set us back by a couple of months, but we are determined to renew our work and continue improving, growing.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sara Popescu Slavikova: No. We were not forced to make hard decisions. However, we have also learnt how vulnerable the field of environmental education is when it comes to more “urgent” survival times. Despite all the positive news of how air pollution decreased, and the environment got to break from many polluting industrial activities, we have also noticed that people, in general, looked away from educating themselves and transitioning to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle when being faced with the health and finance-related issues.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Sara Popescu Slavikova: Our tools and strategies are still very straightforward. We do research from the governmental and scientific resources, put the pieces together and interpret it for our readers who do not have the background in the environmental studies.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sara Popescu Slavikova: We compete with a few other websites that provide information on certain topics we focus on as well, however, since we cover a great range of topics we do not compete with them as a whole. This gives us advantage and diversity but at the same time makes it challenging to keep up with the newest information on all levels.
Greentumble is our life-long project. As long as we find the work rewarding and possible to maintain, we will keep updating our content, improving the way we provide the information and adding new sections and topics.
Your final thoughts?
Sara Popescu Slavikova: We are proud of our work. In the past 5 years, we have devoted a lot of our energy to working on the website, investing smartly in its improvement and balancing the website’s growth with fulltime jobs and other personal challenges that have come along the way.
The main work on Greentumble has been done just by the two of us – my husband Ovidiu and myself, Sara. It has been overwhelming some days and perhaps even hard to maintain the motivation as it’s time-consuming work which requires good focus and a lot of time on research without the direct interaction with your audience. But we will keep working on it and trying to achieve some of our ambitious goals and improvements to the way we present the information.
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