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Valeria Stromtsova, Volunteer of Razdelniy sbor

Updated: Apr 19

Tell us a little about yourself?

Lera: I am 23 years old. I recently moved to Moscow, although I have lived in St. Petersburg all my life. I study at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and work as a project manager.

Landfill in St. Petersburg

When did you first become interested in eco-lifestyles and eco-practices?

Lera: I think one of the turning points was when we went to some cemetery near St. Petersburg, it turned out to be not far from the landfill, where all the waste is brought. When I saw these huge heaps, I was very surprised that it was all rubbish. A lot of seagulls flew there and it looked like gray mountains. I just didn't realize the scale of the problem before.

But then I had not yet begun to take any action in connection with this, because I was very young. But I remember this moment very well. Then, somewhere in the 9th grade, I began to find more and more references to environmental issues, and I began to look for information myself. And then, my mother and I began to separate the packages, it was around 2015.

What difficulties did you face?

Lera: Well, if mom immediately accepted and supported this initiative, then dad was skeptical. And in principle, until now, he does not perceive it very positively, I don’t know why. I'm not trying to convince him.

At first, it was difficult to find separate collection points, although it seemed that there was already a Recyclemap where you can find places, where you can donate recyclables. But it often happened that you came to the point, and it was closed, and it was completely incomprehensible where to carry all these bags again.

Buying goods in a store without packaging

What eco-practices you have now?

Lera: Let's start with the fact that I try to minimize my consumption in general. That is, from childhood I thought that I didn’t like buying new clothes, going to stores, looking at something, it’s not mine. I'd rather buy one thing that I really like and use it all my life than for a few years.

I try not to use disposable products, cups, cotton buds and so on. But at the same time, you have to negotiate with yourself so as not to be an idealist and a perfectionist and not act to your own detriment. For example, if I am too lazy to go to the Bulk Store and buy rice there, I will buy it at the convenience store, because it is faster and I need rice now.

What motivates you to do this?

Lera: I am concerned about the problem of environmental pollution in general. For example, when I walk the streets and see some plastic bottles scattered around. I understood that in Europe, in different countries, when you walk down the street, you will never see something lying on the ground. Always pick up. There are tanks for separate collection. I looked, compared these two worlds and realized that I do not like the world, where there is so much dirt and garbage. Plus, I also understand that in the big cities of Russia the air is very polluted. I read a study that fine particles are very harmful to humans, getting into the lungs they cause diseases. This is hard to put up with. I want to live in big cities where there is work, study, but at the same time I don’t want to spoil my health.

I am also concerned about the fact that the actions of the authorities run counter to the principles of eco-experts. I do not want to put up with the fact that the construction of incinerators is presented as the only way to deal with waste.

Tell us how you joined Razdelniy sbor?

Lera: I think it was about three years ago, my mother and I thought that we wanted to take more factions. I found information on the Internet about promotions, and we decided to go.

Almost after the first action, I immediately began to volunteer there. I realized that people need help and that you can just stand with a bag and do a good deed. For about two years I did not miss a single action, before moving to Moscow.

Separate collection campaign in St. Petersburg

Have you sought to promote this way of living among your circles?

Lera: Many of my friends and acquaintances are not particularly aware that I generally lead such a lifestyle. If they only see me taking coffee in my mug or something like that, then they start asking, and then I explain. That is, on their own initiative, they receive information about it and then decide for themselves what to do with it. But somehow, in a good way, I have close friends and my boyfriend is already engaged and interested in these habits. Maybe it's kind of coincidence of other values in life that lead people to the same result.

I was talking about my dad. I don't really want to convince him of anything. Still, he is an adult with his own experience, and he probably has his own reasons for doing things differently. But sometimes, I tell him: “Look, an aluminum can, please throw it into another tank. It's so simple." Sometimes he listens.

What do you think is missing today for such a way of life to spread?

Lera: I think that there is a lack of transparency. Many people do not understand why we need this separate collection, they do not believe in it, that is, public opinion is quite biased. It seems to me that increasing the transparency of the actions of the state and companies in this area would be a very good step. In our country now, in words, a rather eco-friendly approach to life is declared, but in reality it all diverges from the principles. Some clause about ecology was introduced into the Constitution when new amendments were added to it, but we do not particularly see specific initiatives to improve the situation. On the contrary, there is a downward trend. For example, recently there was a story about a bill that allows the construction of roads on the territory of nature reserves. In general, I would like people at the state level to understand what needs to be done. Because experts have been suggesting ways of development for a long time.

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