Angela Busheska moved in with her aunt in Skopje, North Macedonia where she began taking advanced math classes. Five days after moving in, her 30-year-old aunt passed away. “She suffered from cardiovascular disease in the past,” Busheska says, “and Skopje’s dense air pollution led to complete blood vessel damage.” The experience prompted her to start investigating who was responsible for the air contamination, and during her research, she found that thousands of people died in Skopje because of pollution—and globally, it’s in the millions. By working with her school’s eco club and reaching out to other schools, Busheska was able to gather 300 volunteers to help educate their community on how to live more sustainably. To further aid this endeavor she founded (and developed) EnRoute, an app that helps people lessen their carbon footprint. Users enter their daily activities by category, time, location, and flexibility, and based on preferences, get a result with the least CO2. EnRoute, which is being used in more than 80 countries, also allows you to scan and check if a product is sustainable or not, and offers more eco-friendly alternatives of similar price. Busheska is a We Are Family Foundation Global Teen Leader and was on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2022. —Charlotte DeFazio
What inspired you to create EnRoute?
Raised in a low-income household, I had a goal to become the pioneer math researcher in my family. However, after moving to Skopje, the capital city of North Macedonia, to pursue advanced math classes, I transformed that dream.
During the training, I was delighted to live with my 30-year-old aunt. Unfortunately, it was not for long. She suffered from cardiovascular disease in the past, and Skopje’s dense air pollution led her to complete blood vessel damage, and she passed away only five days after I moved in. That experience changed my perspective and put me on the frontline. I mobilized my school eco-club, and we spent days discovering who was responsible for the toxic air contamination. It turned out, the citizens (myself included) and our inaction killed my aunt. But she’s not an isolated story. Yearly, just in Skopje, 8,000 individuals die because of pollution. Globally, it goes up to 7.8 million people. With deep sorrow, but even deeper inspiration, I founded EnRoute, and by collaborating with schools, I brought together 300 volunteers who educate the community on how to live more sustainably.
How does EnRoute work? And how is it helping reduce CO2 emissions?
EnRoute is a software that helps us travel with the least amount of carbon footprint. We enter our daily activities by category, time, location, and flexibility, and based on our preferences, we get a combination with the least CO2. EnRoute also helps check if a product is sustainable or not on the spot while shopping for food and clothes. Plus, it assists in taking immediate action and offers more eco-friendly products of similar type and price range to the product scanned.
Did you build the application by yourself? How did you learn about coding software?
When I started the initiative, I didn’t have any basic knowledge of coding. Simply because my will was stronger than any excuse I could think of, I started to learn Flutter and program the application simultaneously. During lockdown and quarantine, it was the best way to spend my time. Due to limited finances, I am still its major developer. I start each morning, trying to increase my span of skills, and I incorporate the new knowledge to make a better version and increase its impact.
Can EnRoute be used anywhere in the world?
Absolutely! We have users from more than 80 countries around the globe. It’s available on Google Play, App Store, Huawei Store, and even as a web app on a laptop, phone or tablet.
What have you learned so far from the data collected by EnRoute (including fast fashion impact)?
From all of our to-date activities we’ve realized that the younger a person is, the easier it is to change behavior. To create a new generation of leaders, our upcoming goal is to expand EnRoute and create educational software that will allow students to develop practical environmental habits through climate games and activities while tailoring a climate action curriculum for primary and middle school classes.
Regarding fast fashion, we’ve realized that if more and more people decide to buy ethical clothing (or thrift store apparel), fast fashion companies will have no other way but to follow us.
How are your global ambassador network members selected and what is their role?
EnRoute was delighted to take part in multiple global experiences such as the Global Citizen Year Program, Global Teen Leader Summit, and United People Global Fellowship. Foreseeing how various areas of the globe handle their eco-lifestyles differently, we’ve decided to create a community of people who will translate and tailor our materials for their schools and cities. Our members were selected by open call and by personal invitation.
As a bullying survivor, what advice do you have for others who might be having similar experiences?
Through nine years of school, I was bullied because of my interest in STEM and my body weight. I was often classified as the unwanted kid or the class weirdo, and was cut off from social groups. How did I turn from the greatest introvert to a Global Teen Leader? By speaking up and shedding a light on the things that truly matter. When we speak out, the world has no other chance but to listen. Sign up for the debate club at your school, share trivial speeches in your town hall, film Instagram videos, or even apply for massive international summits. Regardless of the event’s size and place, keep your mission constant and don’t forget to uplift and empower every single person in the audience.