When did you first become interested in an ecological lifestyle?
Maria: It was about 10-11 years ago. I hosted subbotniks in my city. I went, cleaned up myself, and at some point realized that I was somehow completely sad, and none of my neighbors were particularly responding to my subbotniks. I began to look for organizations where I could volunteer, and I found a suitable organization in the Moscow region, “My Clean City”. They conducted only separate collection, or rather, they collected it all separately and then handed it over for processing. I began to collect various factions separately to help them. They still exist. I still do help them, but more remotely, as a designer. I even had my own point where I accepted all this, and then all this was taken away from me. Therefore, I saw the scale of what was being collected and realized that something had to be done about it.
Tell us a little more about how the transition from subbotniks to separate collection took place?
Maria: There was a closed square near the house, which is why people constantly left garbage there, dumping was not visible. I periodically cleaned there and participated in subbotniks. Then I moved to another city, to Korolev. It was there that I realized that I wanted to do something as a part of some organization. That is, I understood, that it probably would be difficult for just one person. And if there already is a lot of people, it's a lot easier to begin with. I filed a call to the Garbage organization. More. No. I got one response, from a person who later became my friend. She was environmentally friendly too.
There is probably no direct connection between subbotniks and Recyclemap Service, I just gradually came to understand that you can´t create this garbage and treat packaging as garbage that annoys you, but as a raw material that can be reused. Plus, I'm a designer and the first step towards separate collection was taken a long time ago. I work with printing, and I begun by collecting waste paper.
What motivated you to start doing this?
Maria: I liked the end result of recycling, the unclutteredness, that is, not having all kinds of garbage all around. All this garbage, everything in garbage dumps, even in containers, was an eyesore for me. I wanted to understand how to solve this problem. Naturally, I started reading about recycling, and I the topic fascinated me and begun to recycled even more. I came to the conclusion that before offering solutions to other people, you need to start with yourself and go yourself through this path first.
What has changed in your lifestyle since the introduction of these habits?
Maria: I had half of the apartment occupied by various factions. Because I started to disassemble and reassemble everything separately. Plus they brought it to me. In general, the scale was huge. Well, somehow I felt that something had to be done. I really wanted to help.
This whole ecological agenda changed also my preferences in choosing food and subsequently I became a vegetarian. But here, too, I got invaluable help from friends. One fine day they came and told me: “That's it, Masha. We are vegetarians from now on.” I thought: “Finally, there are people with whom I can walk this path. I won't be alone."
Are you experiencing any difficulties with this?
Maria: Lack of possibilities to pass everything is the most common difficulty. That is, for example, there are only certain containers near the house, where only certain fractions can be handed over, and everything else must be handed over to "Separate Collection". They collect fractions once a week. This is of course very cool and even quite often. But you are not necessary available to go over on that particular day. Therefore, things accumulate a lot at home. Then you need go and hand it over with huge bags. But it is very convenient that separate collection is now carried out in almost every district of St. Petersburg, that is, you can get there on foot. But there are some fractions which are difficult to pass, you have to wait for the collection. For example, some of technology is difficult to pass. They collect it literally once a year or even less.
What practices do you do irregularly or what makes you deviate from the rules?
Maria: For example, when you travel, you don't always have everything with you. For example, you didn´t take a cup with you, then you have no other option but to buy a disposable package.
Sometimes you buy something that you won’t be able to hand over completely in the near future or at all. You're not going to store all this at home. It can turn out that you need the packaging, but you cannot hand it over separately. In such cases, of course, you have to throw it away. But if it is something small, for example, some pieces of paper, then I take them with me and take them away.
What do you lack in the urban infrastructure for the implementation of these practices?
Maria: It´s a huge lack that in many stores you cannot buy that many products without packaging. For example, rice, buckwheat and everything that weighs. The same goes for household chemicals. That is, you need to go to special stores where they will pour you into your container. This is usually one store for the entire area, if there is one at all.
Plus, there is not enough public infrastructure. For example, I now ride a bike, but there are practically no bike paths. That is, you have to constantly dismount to walk along the sidewalks, which is very inconvenient. If there were some kind of centralized, assembled bike lane in the city center, it would be much more comfortable. I especially want to move around the city in warm weather.
Plus, it seems to me, there is not enough PR within the country about the environment, about reasonable consumption. That is, it all now rests purely on those people for whom it is important.