Recycling in Russia: The second life of old things

Overconsumption is a big problem for some people in Russia. But they don’t have access to a proper recycling system. Once a month, people have to carry their separate recyclables to a collection point that’s run entirely by volunteers. There is no state-run recycling programme.

They find collection points near them with this map, created with the help of Greenpeace Russia volunteers.

Here are some of our stories:

Violetta, 27 years old, and Anastasia, 35 years, both journalists. We've been recycling for the last three and a half years. © Yelena LukyanovaVioletta, 27 years old, and Anastasia, 35 years, both journalists. We’ve been recycling for the last three and a half years. © Yelena Lukyanova

Violetta: “I decided to not only take my recycling to the collection points, using recyclemap.ru, but also to reduce the amount of packaging I buy. I try to take containers to the store with me and fill them with what I want to buy, like my own bags for fruit and vegetables.

“At first, it was awkward. A saleswoman once asked why I do it. I told her about how long plastic takes to decompose and how many animals die from plastic pollution. ‘We all have our quirks’, was her response. But now it seems like more and more people are asking stores to stop selling products in plastic packaging.”

Anna, 24, works in advertising and has been using the scheme for two years now. © Yelena LukyanovaAnna, 24, works in advertising and has been using the scheme for two years now. © Yelena Lukyanova

“Since childhood, I’ve made use of unwanted materials, like making papier-maché out of receipts. This Wonder Woman costume is made from medical shoe-covers with red tape from bread packaging for the corset.”

Dmitry, 35, an agronomist, has been recycling for one year and is one of the volunteers who helps to coordinate the monthly collection schemes. © Yelena LukyanovaDmitry, 35, an agronomist, has been recycling for one year and is one of the volunteers who helps to coordinate the monthly collection schemes. © Yelena Lukyanova

“The majority of our visitors are people under 40, many with children. There is always someone who will ask: is this all really is processed? It’s not just sent to a common landfill site? And I explain: we are not spending our days off here for nothing – yes, it all gets recycled.”

Dmitry, 39, manager, Lena, 31, accountant, and Lesch, 5 years old. The family has been recycling for 14 years. © Yelena LukyanovaDmitry, 39, manager, Lena, 31, accountant, and Lesch, 5 years old. The family has been recycling for 14 years. © Yelena Lukyanova

Dmitry: “I have a funny story about recycling in Russia. Greenpeace were hosting an event to inform people about separating their waste. We were approached by a man who said, ‘You, Greenpeace, you work for the CIA!’ We asked, ‘What’s the CIA?’ The man said ‘You collect all our garbage in those boxes and their contents determine how our people live. You’ll pass all this information on.’ We didn’t know what to say to that.

“My dream is to get Californian worms, which make compost from food waste. They convert waste into something useful. It’ll be nice to have new animals in the house that aren’t cats.”

Veronika, 32, and Andrei, 47. Tasya, is 7 years old. They both work at a recycling collection point. © Yelena LukyanovaVeronika, 32, and Andrei, 47. Tasya, is 7 years old. They both work at a recycling collection point. © Yelena Lukyanova

Veronika: “Sometimes we come across quite amazing things at the point. One of my favourites was a pre-revolutionary bottle of arsenic. Another find was beautiful Argentinian maté teacup, which I found out from an antiquarian was from the 1940s.”


Greenpeace Russia has been leading a project about recycling waste since October 2014. Now, thousands of people are demanding an adequate local recycling system from the government.

More than 170,000 people have signed Greenpeace’s petition to their regional government. In some towns, local governments have already started recycling projects with local businesses.

Violetta Ryabko is a Media Coordinator at Greenpeace Russia.

This story originally appeared on Greenpeace Russia’s site here.

via Greenpeace news http://ift.tt/1SOL2I6 http://ift.tt/eA8V8J

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