Green Vyshka: How it Works in Saint-Petersburg
Did you know, that 75% of all our garbage is recyclable, but we recycle only 30% of it? If you ever thought about changing your lifestyle and encourage some people around you to do same, today is the perfect time to do so!
But all the changes are much harder without a supportive group around you, so the enthusiastic group formed the Green Vyshka movement. The aim of the community is simple: popularize the idea of ecological lifestyle among students and make our university an eco-friendly place.
HSE Illuminated decided to meet up with Anastasia Brudkova, the current leader of the Green Vyshka in Saint-Petersburg, to find out more about this significant movement and difficulties that it’s facing today.
HSE Illuminated: What inspired you to join the Green Vyshka movement at first?
Anastasia: About a year ago I became interested in separate waste collection and watched a bunch of documentaries on ecology and environmental problems. Those films made me realise how every human action has an impact on the environment and made me certain in the necessity of changing my own way of living and inspiring others to do the same. Green Vyshka gave me a platform to promote the ecological movement, and then gave me a chance to stay and try myself as the leader.
HI: And which problems are you facing most often since than?
A: Most people don’t understand that green lifestyle implies not only reducing usage of plastic bags, but also a whole set of principles that need to be followed in order to have a significant impact. Some might think that their actions won’t make any difference and this way of thinking stops them from starting from the simple steps. But in reality these steps are leading to many more healthy habits. For example, by taking reusable bag to the grocery store you are already measure how many products you can fit in there. It makes you more conscious about what you’re buying, and you spend less money on unnecessary things.
HI: Are you seeing a positive dynamic in interest to the green lifestyle among our students? Do you think that every academic year brings to the HSE more conscious students?
A: Of course, much more people are now interested in the ecology, as this topic is contiguous to such as healthy lifestyle and rational consuming. This year our club joined 30 new members. The Vkontakte page of the movement gained 150 new followers. This motivates us to keep working and keep finding ways to influence our audience.
HI: Do you think that the overall image of ‘green lifestyle follower’ surrounded by the negative stigma? Might that be a reason for many people not to join the movement?
A: A lot of people thinks that ecology is strongly connected to veganism, and our society didn’t fully accept vegan diet yet. One of the main reasons for that is active agenda against animal cruelty. With the usual way of thinking and separation of animals on «pets» and «else» this agenda is unacceptable, that creates conflict. Of course people have to be aware of animal problems, but such a pressure from vegan community often stops everyone else from even considering joining. There is a stigma around separating waste as well: these people are often called «trashmen». Again, it all comes from lack of awareness about environmental problems.
HI: What else might be an obstacle on the way to the green lifestyle? Is there not enough publicity to the environmental problems?
A: General laziness is a huge demotivation factor that stops loads of people. For real, conscious and ecological lifestyle takes a lot of resources, time in particular. You have to spend time to educate yourself on environmental issues. Negligent attitude of the government to the problem of unauthorized dumps and absence of the approachable sorting containers adds difficulties as well.
HI: Ok, let’s imagine that you can show or read someone one thing to inspire them to join the movement, what would that thing be?
A: I would show them photos of plastic waves in the ocean, made this year in the Dominican Republic. It’s very impressive.
HI: Is the Green Vyshka in Saint-Petersburg open to the international students? How one can join?
A: The green Vyshka is open to all university students. To join us you just need to come to our weekly meetings or offer your ideas by writing me a personal message :) We welcome everyone!
If you are interested in joining the movement or want to keep up with their events, you can follow the Green Vyshka in Saint-Petersburg Vkontakte.