This time we talked to Angelina Davydova, an expert in the field of environmental policy, green economy, UN climate negotiations, public environmental movements and sustainable development. Angelina teaches at the Faculty of Journalism of St. Petersburg State University and at ITMO University, lectures on environmental protection, sustainable development and green economy.
Photo provided by Angelina Davydova
Do what is pleasing to you and something that shows your good attitude to the environment.
Do you think it is possible to lead an eco-friendly, green lifestyle in modern Russian megalopolises? How difficult is it?
Angelina: It is possible. How difficult it is depends on what city or metropolis you live in, what kind of family you have and in what part of the city you live. In my life I can introduce certain elements, others cannot.
Do you yourself try to lead such a lifestyle? Please share examples from your daily life.
Angelina: The main and key thing is conscious consumption. Buying what you really need, not buying what you don’t need, try not to buy unnecessary things that you will use little and not for long, try not to use too much packaging and generally think about what you consume. Save energy and water as much as possible, use a car as little as possible, buy more local products, use products and goods that will last a long time.
Do you think you should try to practice such a lifestyle at all? Can this really affect something in the world around us (in St. Petersburg, in particular)?
Angelina: Yes, this is the only way society changes, only when a critical number of people change their habits and lifestyle. If you change habits in your life and tell your close and distant acquaintances about it, only then will something change in the sphere of consumption around us. Through particular examples, through educational programs, through influencers, something will change systematically.
What advice would you give to people who want but hesitate to become environmentally conscious due to the potential difficulties?
Angelina: I would advise you to start simple, if it's hard for you to immediately divide the waste into 25 fractions, start sorting the paper first, and then slowly select some other fractions. Find out where this waste can be collected near you. Begin to be interested in the history and origins of the foods you consume, start thinking what is good for you and what is good for the world around you in order to take care of yourself and the world. Do what pleases you and what shows your good attitude towards the environment.
You travel often and you know how people live in other cities and countries. Is the course for an ecological way of life, a circular economy, strong among the inhabitants of Western countries? What distinguishes eco-activists, environmentally conscious people in Russia (what is their strength)?
Angelina: Yes, I've traveled quite often before. It seems to me that the course for an ecological lifestyle and a circular economy is strong in all countries of the world. Perhaps some countries have gone a little further, but I think that activists and environmentally conscious people in Russia are following the same path. Many paths, even if Western activists have passed, we can learn and try, understand what we need to learn from our Western colleagues and what not, because their experience is interesting and useful. I think that eco-initiatives, eco-startups are important and need to be analysed in all cities of the world.
What factors, in your opinion, are triggers for a person to start changing their lifestyle to a more environmentally friendly one? What is driving this value shift?
Angelina: There are many factors. On the one hand, general cultural - what is fashionable, what is important, what they talk about, what bloggers and influencers write about on social media. On the other hand, local factors are what people around you are doing, what your friends are doing. Both global trends and the immediate environment of a person are important. The media agenda is important, as well as those personal shifts that can happen to a person's values at any time in their life.