Circular practices in Saint-Petersburg

Updated: May 20

We started collecting interviews with members of eco-communities. We asked them what practices they use and what motivates them to lead a greener lifestyle? Studying motivation and constraints will help us understand how to develop a circular economy in a city most competently. In order to preserve personal data, when publishing interviews, we indicate only gender, age and city of residence of the respondent.

Self-hauling upholstery of soft chairs. Photo from the personal archive of the respondent.



Respondent 1

Anna Kogan

Age: 33,

Education: higher, photographer, City: St. Petersburg


Eco lifestyle - what is it?

All that somehow helps to take care of the environment and earth… Concerning simple practical things, it’s recycling and trying to buy things that are easily recyclable. It is better to buy high-quality clothing that will last you 10-15 years, instead of buying new ones for every season. Trying to find new purposes for things that are no longer suitable for their original purpose... For example, trying to find a use for a vase that is cracked: you can no longer put flowers there, but you could paint it and use it as a flower pot in the garden. Or you could give it away for free via Avito or another group.

What kind of eco-practices are you performing?

I try to do all the above mentioned. Turning off the light, water… (when brushing teeth). I learned this when I was living in Israel under the repatriation program. That is where a lot of water can be saved.



Photo source: https://www.hydrotech-group.com/

Is a bicycle part of a sustainable lifestyle for you, for example?

I would be very happy if my trips somehow help the environment, but it seems to me that this has an effect only if at least 10% of the population switches to bicycles. So my use of the bicycle is too small a drop in the ocean.

When did you first become interested in these practices and what motivates you to do them?

The first thoughts were in Israel, because water scarcity is ubiquitous there. One freshwater source, Lake Kinneret is actually in the desert, which makes us treat this resource more respectfully and economically. After that, I started thinking, why not try to save electricity. It was about 18-19 years ago, when I was 14. When I returned to Russia, I just continued to do it here, because it became a habit for me. When I lived in Yekaterinburg, I started recycling paper. I was given some information about recycling it and it was possible there, so I began recycling it. Regarding plastic, I'm not sure exactly, but the first thoughts about it formed after trips abroad, because in Israel recycling it was already widespread 15 years ago. There are lattice containers around the city where everyone is throwing bottles. I think it all started with this. More actively, and consciously, I came to this only two years ago. Each time you learn something new, you become more and more productive in separating. If earlier I tried to just use less bags, then I started to pay attention when buying products, whether they are in recyclable packaging. I can say that my purchasing preferences have definitely changed as now I choose products that have recycled packaging.

I did not have any swift leap in this process, the information and change came by gradually, drop by drop. I think the most of the information and stimulus I received in Israel, and then it matured in my head. The infrastructure for recycling packaging appeared around, and this gradually turned into eco habits for me. But they are still not perfect. For example, the H&M company, now they are very much criticized for throwing out a lot of things, nevertheless, I can buy these clothes.



Waste separation containers in Israel. Photo source: https://recyclemag.ru/

Do you feel morally satisfied with what you are doing?

Certainly. Even now, there are many recycling containers around where I live and it becomes easier to be environmentally friendly. At this moment, when everything is near you and you can use it, it helps to recycle the packaging.




Expanded polystyrene is one of the most common types of non-recyclable packaging in Russia.

What difficulties have you faced? What would you like to improve?

Not everything can be recycled. For example, 6 plastic can be handed over at Sofiyskaya, which is far from my house. I haven't been there yet. I am saving up and waiting for when I can go there. I read that 3, 7 plastic can be recycled, but where to take it, is not clear. Even when I put waste paper on this container, there are no clear indications of what can be recycled and what not. For example, at first I handed in checks, until I found information that this paper was harmful, and they must be recycled separately. Most likely everyone, like me, learns from their mistakes. Some people are handing over wrong packaging, like toilet paper rolls or egg baskets in the paper container.

There is a red cross next to where I live and they had some kind of delivery, with many, many boxes and they just threw them into the general household waste, as they were 1 meter closer!! There was a special container for cardboard. People just don't seem to know about it. Maybe there should be some bright signs? Telling clearly with bright pictures what and in what form should be put into the container? To extrude or not, cover separately or not? Wash or no need to wash and so on. Take for example containers for glass: you throw a container there and it breaks. Is this normal? How do they get it out afterwards? I would like to have some transparency in this. It would be cool if light propaganda of garbage separation was ubiquitous. After all, people just don't think about it.