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Well, and today Barbara, Alyona and I are about to discuss ecofriendliness. So, what does that mean? What is ecofriendliness? To those who have no idea about it. How would we define it? And, most importantly, are we eco-friendly?
Well, ecofriendliness is not harming our environment and obviously, we’re living all together on this planet and we need to practice ecofriendliness.
Yeah, we only have one planet.
Exactly. So, and are you guys eco-friendly?
I’m trying to be, but I’m not sure that I can…
Well, you’re trying to be, so what do you do?
Well, I try to recycle. Basically, paper, cause yeah, it’s really easy here. Also I try to reuse as many items as possible, right. And also I try to buy stuff which is biodegradable, so that’s basically it.
Well, I’m pretty sure actually… You know when people say they don’t do much, I’m pretty sure they actually do much more. Because there are little steps that people do not even, you know, think about when we talk about ecofriendliness. But, let me ask you some questions. So, do you, let’s say, turn off water while you’re brushing your teeth?
See, that’s eco-friendly! Do you, what else what else what else… Do you switch off the light when you’re not in the room?
That’s still, you know, ecofriendliness! So. Barbara, what about you? What do you do?
Oh we were brought up being eco-friendly. So a little American history - when I was a schoolgirl, there was a big campaign called ‘Keep America beautiful’. And actually, this organization, founded in 1953, composed of array of businesses that recognized that we had to take care of our community.
So they would send out PSAs – these are public service announcements- across the airwaves, meaning radio and tv, cause that’s what we had. And so essentially these were commercials, saying “Keep America beautiful”, the slogan was “Don’t be a litter bug”. So I was brought up with this.
And then the great thing that spurred our environmental movement in the US was that picture of the Earth – are you familiar with that picture, you can google, 1972. It’s called the Blue Marble. And it was so stunning for us because we saw ourselves as a miracle – this is our home, this is our world, this is our planet.
We gotta take care of it. And this was 1972. A lot was going on – we had the women’s movement, we had the civil rights movement, we had a raging war in Vietnam. And here – take care of your planet. So important.
This was good timing I think. You know, this is interesting, the difference in upbringing in the US and in Russia. Cause in here children, well, not even children, adults know almost nothing about being eco-friendly and how important that is to be eco-friendly.
And that’s fantastic that in the US even kids are brought up this way.
Well I would ask a question then – during wars they recycled metals for weapons, so certainly in Russia you were told to keep those cans, recycle…
No… But that was kind of necessity, you know, we don’t have at the moment. Well, I guess the majority of people don’t. So that’s why we have what we have.
In my classes last year I was very interested in knowing about recycling in Novosibirsk, and I asked around. And many are interested in it, but they say – well, we don’t know how to do it, it’s not convenient.
Yeah, which is why the major goal right now in our city is to raise awareness. Cause I talk a lot about it with my friends, with people on Instagram. And what I see is exactly what you said – a lot of people say ‘we are interested, we would like to do something, but we don’t know how’. Where to start? Where to get information? There’s so much information. People are just lost.
Yeah, there’s two things. The attitude of people. But then there has to be a system that is set up. When I first came to Novosibirsk, I was watching the news and I recognized that it was our mayor and he was pouting this recycling center, this new.
I thought wow, how exciting! But I saw no deposit places, no drop off places. So this was what I was asking the adults – do you recycle? Do you want to? Yes we want to, but it’s not convenient. And even I asked the kids – oh, our parents want to, but who cares. It’s the system.
I have a question to you Barbara. Have your habits, I mean, eco-friendly habits changed since you came here?
Oh yes, it’s going down the drain. I cannot do what I was used to doing. Yes, turning off the water and the lights – I definitely do that. But I was so disturbed first coming with this pile of plastic. The food wrapping. So the only thing that I can do, because I don’t understand where anything is, is that I do, I reuse the produce bags.
I would bring my produce bags to the store and reuse them. And of course I have a canvas bag. That’s the best I can do. What else can I do? There’s no drop-off place.
We’re gonna talk about it after the podcast, I’ll show you the map where you can see where those containers are. So because, not many people, again, not many people know about it just because if you don’t have it right next to your house, you wouldn’t think that they exist anywhere in this city.
Well, in the United States we’ll have actual grocery bags recycling drop-offs in the grocery store. It’s so convenient.
Can you tell us… I’m sorry that I’m asking all the questions to Barbara, but they are just interesting, and to our listeners as well – what is it like in the US? I mean, what facilities do you have there? How is it made for people to be, you know…
This is depleted as well, and I’ll tell you why. There was a time where it was strict rules where we had to separate our brown glass from our green glass from our clear glass. We had to separate aluminum cans from tin cans, washed, separated.
So the reasons was the we were sending all of our clean recycling to China. Are you aware that China was, not now, was recycling half of the world’s recyclable waste? And then, for some reason, there was a change, and they were like – okay, we are just going to stream line, just put all your stuff into one.
And this led to contamination. People were eating and they were just sticking stuff in. And China said no more! And it was in 2018 that China put a ban on, and no more, we’re not taking your garbage anymore.
Wow. Even separating, like, different types of glass.
Yes. So now that led to recycling centers being closed. And things not being taken. And it led to the UK incinerating their stuff.
Have you ever smelled burning plastic? It is so poisonous.
And then Australia has this big stockpile of plastic in all their parts. And they don’t know what to do with it, because China stopped, they said no more.
Does that mean that there’s no… That there’s no reason for recycling anymore?
We’re not set up to process it as China was. And so there’s just a little hope, there was some talk that China comes to some states in the United States and setting up some kind of processing thing. China seems to be the expert, and they said no more.
Wow. And the whole country is now at a loss.
The whole world. Wow. Okay. Well, we have mentioned recycling. Alyona, can you tell our listeners more about what we can recycle and what we cannot? Cause I think this is one of the problems people…
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. First of all, of course, that’s just obvious that some items cannot be recycled.
Like, for example, Styrofoam. Do you know what it is? It’s just some type, for our listeners who don’t know, this is some type of material that takeaway containers, take away food containers are made from.
So when you order some food in Asian restaurants for example, what they do, they usually deliver everything in those containers. So, that is non-recyclable. Also one of the materials is bubble wrap, bubble wrap, it’s not recyclable too. And as far as I remember, I’m not quite sure, but I think takeaway coffee cups, they are not recyclable.
Of course, they are made from paper, which is recyclable. But the problem is, they have, like, thin layer of plastic inside, which makes them non-recyclable too.
Yeah, I think this is the biggest misconception that people think – oh, I have my, you know, take away coffee cup, it’s made of paper, I can recycle it. No, you cannot, but it has a compound of paper, plastic and different things.
Yeah, there is a video that I showed a lot to my students last year – the life of the plastic bottle.
Oh, it’s from Ted-ed I think.
It’s very short, but it’s very informative, and it’s right to the point about how plastic is made. It’s made of these millions little pellets bonded together. So it’s very durable. And then in order to make something you melt it down and form it.
But once it starts, once it goes on its journey it breaks down and these little pellets – this is what the animals eat or the sea creatures eat. And just like you said, these things are not recyclable.
If we want to add to the list of non-recyclable items, I would add those packs that juice is sold in, again cause this is a compound mix. You know these sachets which coffee is sold in.
Yeah, it’s like a bag. It’s kinda plastic and aluminum. So this… Or let’s say if you have noticed the packets that, let’s say, mayo or ketchup is sold in, the one that you can squeeze. The same with toothpaste, those are non-recyclable too. But what is recyclable then?
Some types of plastic, not all of them of course.
Yeah, you mentioned the plastic. The reason why that long stringy produce bag plastic cannot be recycled is because it gums up the machines. It’s not just the breakdown, but it’s long.
It is. Although I know that at some eco-events in Novosibirsk now, you can actually… You can take plastic bags there and then they can be recycled to some point. Well, maybe not recycled but downcycled, but we’ll get to that. Okay, and why is it… So, wait. So, plastic, paper.. Glass!
We forgot to mention glass! Glass is recyclable, and this is the best material as they say because it can be recycled an infinite amount of times! And metal. But why is it important to recycle?
Okay, cause I have had too many a fight with my parents when I was sorting out the trash and they were telling me- you’re just being ridiculous, or crazy! And what can one bottle, or one coffee cup do? That’s not a big deal! Especially with the straws, too. I have a metal straw and they’re like – what can one straw do?
You need to show them the satellite visions of those five plastic islands. You’ve heard of these things in our oceans, that are caught up in this current of water, this vortex. And this island of plastic, fishing lines, wood, garbage – it attracts all of this.
Okay, I’m going to act as a person who doesn’t believe in the danger of plastic. So we can, let’s say, act how to answer and how to make people understand. Okay, so what about those islands? They are so far away, that does not affect me. How can we reply to that?
Well, everything, every single item matters. Cause everything… They are all, you know, all items on the planet are interconnected somehow.
That speaks to the attitude, the attitude has to change. You have to care. Doesn’t that bother that there re plastic islands, five of them, growing in the ocean?
I have to say that I have met a lot of people who do not.
Okay. So these pictures of animals, sea, marine animals, sea creatures, sea birds getting caught up in the fishing lines, suffocating, dying. And I’ll go back to that video that you’re acquainted with. I’ll give you the link so you should put the link out there so that people can see.
But it traces the life of a water bottle, and the thing is there are two ways of affecting us. One is when you throw it away and it ends up in a garbage dump. Our plastic is compressed with all the junk pressing it, and then the rain water comes, that makes it into a poisonous stew that gets into the ground water.
And some people are not aware that we have ground water, we have water coming to the surface of our earth, that is connected to the water ways, to the ocean. And this poisons the sea, the sea animals. And that’s gotta bother you, that’s why.
Actually, I mean, it’s not a surprise that every person nowadays consumes some amount of plastic every year. It’s like… And when you see it, you are just like woah!
I think that’s how we can try to change the attitude to people – cause when something is happening far-far away, people do not care about it. But once you show them and prove to them that okay, look, some fish…
Well, the plastic is broken down to some tiny pieces – fish eats it, let’s say, marine animals eat it. And then you consume the sea food, you consume the fish, you have plastic in you now.
This is the food chain, and so it does affect. And when you said that we consume the plastic, and what you’re saying - it affects us now. I read something like a credit card worth of plastic we eat every week or something.
I mean, it’s crazy, we eat so much plastic. And these plastic bottles are breaking down, so every time you use or re-use a plastic bottle, you’re ingesting more plastic.
Every time you buy something in a supermarket, so whether it is fish or some fruit, so you can be absolutely sure you consume plastic.
It’s one thing to know that you might be consuming microplastic, but giving us a certain amount, like a credit card worth of plastic – oh god. Yeah. So, listeners, that is why you have to!
I must tell you that it’s quite har to recycle here in Russia, but one thing we can definitely do is we can reduce. That’s what you can do. I just have an example, cause actually I didn’t have breakfast this morning.
So that’s why on my way here I just dropped at my local supermarket not actually a supermarket, kind of little shop. To buy, you know… Oh I don’t know the word for that. You know, just tiny tiny piece of curds, like glazed one right?
I don’t know how to describe it, I’m not sure we have…
Well, when I was in a supermarket in the US, well, in the Russian store…
Cheese… Little cheesecake cake, glazed cheesecake mass. Yeah, Barbara looks very puzzled. We’ll show you.
Anyway, it’s tiny, this size. And I just bought it, and the shop assistant, she gave it to me in a plastic bag, in a plastic bag, this one!
Yeah! Why do you need it? I was so amazed! I mean, what for?
Exactly! Well, I’m happy to see that many people, you know, they now are okay… Well, at the beginning of my eco-friendly journey I was telling people like, no thank you, I don’t need a plastic bag. To which, do you know what I heard in reply? Oh, don’t worry, it’s free!
Like, I’m not worrying about it being free or not free, I just don’t want to create more trash. But now, at the beginning, you know those tiny fruit shops, they are not supermarkets, but they’re kinda like stands, fruit stands. At the beginning there they were telling me the same thing – oh, it’s free.
And I explained it to them, that I just don’t want to create more trash. So I’m carrying not only those shoppers and whatnot, but I also have tiny bags made of nets, specially for fruit. And I showed them these bags and told them that I just want to use these, just because I don’t want to take a lot of plastic bags. And it’s just easier.
Isn’t there a joke about that? Isn’t it an of course or something the Soviets used? These little net bags.
Joked about what they would use. And the disadvantage is that people know what you bought, like your milk or your…
Well I use small ones, so the net is different, so you can put rice in it for example. So it’s a different type of net. So and it’s… So you buy it once and you can use it for years and years and years technically.
I’m so glad we’re having this conversation, cause I felt so alone, just downgrading on myself all of this. But now I have some hope!
There is also these plastic straws. As you probably know I’m a coffee lover and I often visit coffee shops. Every time I come, I’m given a straw, right. And I know that those straws, they harm tortoises in ocean. And this summer I bought a set of metal straws. Right. So I just have them with me in my bag.
Did they come with a little brush for them?
It’s cheap, I mean, everybody can do that, it’s really cheap.
And you can use them like for years. Yeah, I remember a lot of campaigns, like, save the turtles, but then again… Well, there are pros and cons to that campaign. Cause of course plastic straws are evil and you should avoid them whenever you can.
So I don’t know if you know, but a lot of companies like Starbucks and whatnot, they switched to paper. But a lot of people say, like, oh, that’s great, they switched to paper straws. But the thing is that plastic straws are still needed, because there are people who, due to health reasons, cannot use paper straws.
You know, they get all mushy, and they cannot physically use them. And when they say ‘I need a plastic straw’ and they are told – ho no, don’t’ you care about the turtles? I’m like oh, no, this is ableism. Like, you, like do not think about those who cannot the paper straws due to physical reasons.
I know that some years ago Canada was really concerned with that problem, ecological problem. So they started, at least they tried to ban those plastic straws, but there were some protests to that, because some people with special needs definitely need them. They still need them.
Yeah. So, well, yeah. At least, if the majority of people don’t use them – that’s great! Alyona, you mentioned, when you were saying what you do and do not do, you mentioned reducing. And that brings up the rule of three R’s. Do you know about it?
Can you tell mor about it?
Yeah. So what are the three R’s?
Yeah, so these are like the three whales on which the world of ecofriendliness stands. Reduce, reuse, recycle. And now, what about three terms? Because people who start getting into ecofriendliness they get often confused about all this, because of, you know, huge amount of information.
And there three terms, which are recycling, which we know. There is also upcycling and downcycling. So what are they?
Well, so, upcycling and downcycling are both types of recycling first of all, right. Do you know the difference Barbara?
Well, I actually had to google the difference.
Well, actually, when we transform some a material or an item into something of equal or greater value, it is, like, upcycling, right?
But vice versa, just some material or some product is converted into something of lesser value, so it is downcycled. I mean, I’m talking about discarded materials.
Yeah. So, well, if you want some examples, so, let’s say, upcycling – basically, a lot of DIY comes form that. So for example you have a watch that stopped working, you turn it into fancy earrings. Ta-dam! Upcycling. Or, oh, what I have seen just this morning on Pinterest – this is a great, you know, this app for different DIY ideas.
So, how to turn an old ladder into a bookshelf, something like that. So, you do not do anything with the ladder technically, so you use it for something of the same value, so – upcycling. And downcycling – for example if we, well, not we, but certain facilities recycle plastic bottles.
Not all of them are made of the same type of plastic. So sometimes the plastic that you get in the end is of lower quality. So and then it is used not to make bottles, but to make, let’s say, speedbumps. So and this would be downcycling.
So when I was googling this, what came to mind when you’re talking about a broken watch being turned into some jewelry, it occurred to me, that of course this is like… Artists like doing that. There is this artist, very famous in Georgia, he was a folk artist, and he really did exactly what you’re saying.
He would make his art using bicycle parts, machinery, old plastic toys. He even made this art with this son’s tonsils. Son’s tonsils were in a jar and he made it into some kind of art.
You know, I don’t know Barbara if you have seen these things, but in Russia especially, in some kind of small towns, people make, I don’t know, figures, like a swan, out of used tires. So now we can say this is not just a tasteless piece of crap, but this upcycling.
I have them in my hometown. They are ugly. Really ugly.
But now we can say that this is ecofriendly.
Yes. And I think this happens in schools. Don’t teachers say oh kids, bring something from home and we’re gonna make some art. And they have fun doing things like this.
Actually I remember a couple of years ago, in the Institute of Contemporary art there was a whole exhibition of art made of different used materials, so there was some upcycling art exhibition. So and I was amazed that what you can do with things that reused. So it was just wow. But well, then again, you have to have some talent for this.
So, have either one of you bought clothes that have been downcycled?
I have.. Well, I have seen a pair of sneakers, but the thing is that you have to pay to be eco-friendly. Because they cost around $80 I think a pair. So I was not ready to pay that. Which brings actually a questions. So, one of the greatest pollutants that people do not think about is fast fashion.
So they think to be eco-friendly it’s enough to just recycle, but when you start telling them – do you know how much different fast fashion companies pollute the environment? They get really shocked.
Because they think fast fashion is something that we do not have here, but then you tell them – oh, these are companies you know and use, like Zara, H&M and whatnot. Oh, oh what?
So you’re speaking of fast fashion meaning that manufacturers are reeling out clothes quickly and cheaply and they don’t last long?
Exactly. They do not. So they say that this is now the third biggest pollutant in the world, just because they use, well, to dye the clothes, they use very cheap paint and dye, then the materials themselves, then the cheap labor and whatnot. Then they don’t care about how to deal with the waste.
Dispose of it. So it’s going to be dumped in the rivers.
So which is why now a lot of the activists say that if you want to be even more eco-friendly, try to buy clothes at some, let’s say, second hand stores or stores that you know use good materials, not cheap labor. But then again…
You can also recycle actually. Twice in my life I’ve recycled my clothes. It is easy to do. You can just take it to the nearest, not the nearest, supermarket I mean here in Russia, but we do have lots of places here in Novosibirsk where you can take your clothes to. For example, I know we have one in Royal Park shopping center.
Do you mean those little boxes? On the ground floor?
So you’re not speaking about second-hand clothes, you’re speaking about recycling?
Recycling. Right. Cause I had some items I just never used, but the quality wasn’t good, so I just decided to take them to the..
They have a very limited, let’s say, scope of things that they can take. So the thing is that in those boxes you can both take your clothes that you want to be donated, you want to be sold in secondhand shops. Charity shops, actually, not secondhand.
But more of charity, still secondhand, but they still take clothes for recycling, but they have to be only cotton. So they cannot recycle other materials I’m afraid. But yeah, if you do that, they need to be washed, and all the buttons and zips and whatnot have to be cut. But yeah. It’s still something,
What about downgrading your wardrobe? You buy new clothes to go to work, and then it’s getting old so you just wear them at home. And then you start sleeping in them, do you do that?
And then when it gets to the point that you cannot wear them at home even, I use them for cleaning. See, yeah! Oh that’s fantastic, that’s fantastic. Now, what about…. So, we have talked about this recycling, buying secondhand things and whatnot, donating.
But a lot of people think that it is no more than just a trend. So and I don’t know if you’ve met these people but I certainly have, when I say oh I try to recycle, I, let’s say, save this so I can take this to the nearest recycling point and whatnot, and they say – this is just a trend.
It is a trend, it is a trend, but it’s a positive trend. Yeah, so. It’s trendy, and I’m glad it’s trendy.
I Agree with you. Because when I was talking about my little history in the 70s of this environmental movement starting, what came after that was the ME generation. I’m the center of the universe, and I don’t care about recycling. And then what came after that was the technological era.
Where what do you do with your old laptops and your old monitors and your old, you know, components? Nothing, You just put it in and allow it to poison the earth. So it was a very… Now this whole thing is new, this is a new trend.
Actually, this was my.. .This was pain for me, because I have an old laptop and old phone that I don’t use, but they just sit there in one of the drawers, or in the storage unit right now, because I’m looking for the facility where I can take it. But what I’m happy about is that in the US there are special…
You know, like machines that look like ATMs. So imagine it – you come to it, you scan your id, you put a phone inside, you write down the name of the phone, when you bought it. Then it kinda analyzes it and it gives you cash.
So this way you recycle your phone and you get cash. It’s not much, so for example you can recycle your phone for $15, but that’s better than nothing. So I like that, I’m really looking forward to using it.
Those things are really important. Before I moved to Novosibirsk, I started cleaning out my house, about 2 years prior, because I knew at some point I was gonna be moving, didn’t know where. But it took that long to find places where you can bring your tv, to bring your components to, and I paid $25 to get my tv recycled.
And I had to go to a special store to get my lightbulbs recycled, so I had to got to different places. And I did try that kiosk that you were talking about, but for some reason it didn’t accept my phone. I didn’t have the information, I don’t know, I couldn’t make it work.
I was envious of people standing in line and using it, and getting a little bit of cash out of there.
Yeah. And the very fact that you do not throw it away, but it gets recycled, so it keeps serving the world.
Yeah, you have to call around. Do you take this? Yeah, we take this, but not that. Okay. Then you have to make a list and okay. So it was a big run-around.
Well, that’s what I’m doing on a daily basis because, let’s say, I have a container right next to my building, which accepts some sorts… Well, some types of plastic and metal. Well, aluminum. That’s it.
Which means that if I want to recycle glass, I need to take it to another place, which is a 20-minute walk away from my building. Then paper. For some reason the container that I have next to my building does not accept paper, which means I need to find something else.
And then I also have, you know, these plastic lids for plastic cups, I need to take them to a separate place. Then there are batteries, light bulbs, clothes. So it’s just, you know, stored in my house on some of the shelves, and then once a month or even…
We have a coffee bar which gives you like a discount if you bring your own cup.
So, one of the reasons… Well, one of the reasons why people have looked at me like I’m a lunatic is when I have brought my own Tupperware or a container into a supermarket. You know those things you can buy, you know, you just say- can I have a bit of that, can I have a bit of that.
I was buying fish and I asked – can you put it into my container? They just looked at me like – why? I’m like – look, well, first, I wanna, you know, save the planet and use less plastic. Second, if you need something, some other reason and number one is not enough, yours will smell, mine is airtight. So.
But some of the people are reluctant to do that. But, I don’t know if you know, but. Oh I can use this, you know, opportunity to tell about that to other people. So you can now sign a petition about your own containers, because the department that is responsible for the.. What’s that what’s that what’s that…
Like, sanitary restrictions, sanitary rules- they wanna ban the opportunity of buying stuff into your own containers, including coffee. And people are mad about it. Cause that will lead to an extraordinary amount of plastic. So when the whole world goes zero waste, Russia goes the other way. Ugh.
Oh, what about when this pandemic hit, and people have this PPE, which of course is very important, this personal protective equipment, and now we all wear masks. A patience, that all this stuff is gonna pile up.
They’re disposable, I mean, you throw them away. And the first thing I thought was oh no, this is gonna add to our plastic islands. And then sure enough I read an article about how it was adding.
It is. One thing though – it is, even though it is disposable and you have to throw it away, make sure to cut the strings. Cause the birds can get caught in it.
And then wondering about dental floss. Because I started cutting my dental floss, thinking it’s gonna be better for the turtles and for the animals, because it’s long pieces. What do you think? Do you think cutting the dental floss before throwing it out…
I mean, it sounds reasonable.
Yeah, some people might be listening to us and think oh god, they do way too much.
We’re not doing too much, we’re not crazy. We really care. And I think everyone cares, but they just don’t know what to do.
So, speaking of that being a trend, and even though I agree that it’s a good trend, if it makes more people interested – even better. But do you think that some companies actually use it to make more money and they don’t care about it?
Definitely, definitely. The marketing of go green! We’re green! Buy us! Yeah, right. Look at all the things we do!
I have recently found out about the term greenwashing I think it is. It’s when company…
Kind of! So when a company, you know, state that they are eco-friendly, like, you can take clothes to our place and we are going to recycle it. But in the end it’s just going on a land pile. So this is called greenwashing, cause they only seem to be ecofriendly, but in the reality they are not. So, yeah.
I think that is going on, and I also… And we play into it, because we might be doing a lot of actions and things to recycle, just like taking it to these places, and then they really don’t. And that turns off people. Because there have been articles or reports of this happening. I’m not gonna recycle, it’s too much trouble, and it’s gonna be recycled anyway.
That’s what people have told me. Oh, so you’re taking that plastic into a special container, but then it ends up in one kind, one truck anyway.
So, when I saw a truck, a special green truck only picking up that trash from that container I took a video and posted it saying – to those who did not believe, there is a special truck which didn’t even touch, you know, the trash cans nearby.
So and I always make sure to tag the company. So, see? They’re doing things! So make sure to ask them any questions if you have them.
I’d like to go back a little bit.
You were talking about contains, I mean, containers to bring to local supermarket and other places. I mean, we are not allowed to use them sometimes, cause actually, the problem is that if you get sick for example after using your own container,
nobody knows what kind of container you brought and what was there before you brought it to the supermarket. So if you get sick after that, they might theoretically have problems. So that’s why you might sue and all that stuff.
Yeah, that’s one of the parts, one of the sides of it. Cause if you get sick, technically you cannot use them, you cannot have any complaints about the supermarket, cause you cannot prove it was because of their food and not because of your container. So it has some downsides and whatnot.
They are just like protecting themselves.
Nowadays I’ve heard that some of the coffee shops do not, let’s say, pour coffee into your own cup, because it’s the time of the pandemics. So they do not even touch it. I know one coffee shop in here, they do so. I mean, they do pour coffee into your own cup.
But they ask you – can you please put it right here, so and they do not even touch it. They’re just, you know, staying on the safe side. Alright, and what about one more thing that a lot of eco-activists talk about, which is carbon footprint. So have you heard about carbon footprint? And what’s that?
When this is what we do… I would think about the emissions with cars. What we do to impact, to add on to our environmental damage that we’re doing.
And some people claim that it’s worth donating to some companies to compensate for the carbon footprint that you make. For example if you…. And there is a special calculator on the internet. So if you take a flight for example form Novosibirsk to Moscow, you can calculate the amount of CO2 emissions that you, you know, well, not you directly, but you made.
And then you can donate a certain amount to companies that try to cover this carbon footprint for you. So ecofriendly companies, different eco-activists and whatnot and I think this is called eco… No, not eco… Carbon offsetting. So what do you think about that? Is it worth doing? Is it.. So would you ever do that?
I don’t trust companies. I’m always thinking they’re trying to make their profit and they’re hiding behind this. So I would have to know this is backed by some activists.
Alyona, what do you think?
Oh yeah, yeah. Definitely.
That is a good... I’ll do that, but it’s kinda huge problem for the majority of people here in Russia, you know why. So. That’s why. For Europe – probably, yeah, sure, good idea.
I have some mixed feelings about this, because even if I would like to do that, I, just like you Barbara, I don’t trust companies. So I think I would have to do a research at the beginning, just to see – is this company trustworthy?
Can I really trust them that they will, you know, make use of the money and use them to the right place to do the right thing. But, yeah. On Instagram I’m following several people who are eco-activists and they post a lot about it. And I look at them – okay, so you know your thing, so you must be sure in this company.
But then again – am I ready to pay money for this? I don’t know. It’s just another side of it, am I ready to give a part of my income to this? Not sure.
I think corporations do so much damage toward the environment that they need to take a lot more responsibility.
Exactly! This is actually what some people claim when you say oh you need to reduce, you need to recycle, you need to sort your trash. And they say – I’m not the biggest pollutant in this world! Companies do so much more, so why is it me, a humble mere individual who has to take action? I don’t need to take actions! Which…
Cause you buy plastic bag every time you shop! So that’s why.
Well, for some people that’s not that big an argument, so.. But how can we encourage people to be more conscious about, you know, environment? How can we… I don’t know… make them?
Just like you say, talk about it. And what I tried to do last year with my classes and showing that video and having some kind of discussion with it. What can we do? What can we do? We have this fancy recycling center in Novosibirsk, but what a mystery! How can we get things recycled?
Right. So, what if we think of a list of tips on how to be more ecofriendly in general and in Novosibirsk in particular. So, what can we add to the list? So’ we’ve mentioned some things like number one, turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth or switch off the lights. What else?
I’ve never done that actually, but I’m planning to. So, for example, you can use less… Not actually less, you can… You can buy shampoo bar, which is much better than just a regular shampoo. Shampoo bottle, cause you do not need to recycle, you do not produce waste.
And you can use both, as far as I know as, like gel shower, shower gel. Also shampoo, and just soap – it’s just a single item for taking care for skin.
I’ve actually seen a lot of those bars of soap and whatnot. You can even buy, let’s say, a deodorant. Usually these things tend to be very natural. So they are, you know, even better for your skin and whatnot.
The same thing goes with lip balm, deodorants, creams. Like, you know, they are very hard, and they come, if they are not in, well… If they are not sold by bar, they come in little metal containers, and then after using you take it back to the shop, so they take it back to the producer, so it can be reused.
That’s great. So, you’re talking about a bar that’s basically melting as you’re using it. Right?
Because that reminds me of my favorite color crayons and how much I detest seeing kids using these markers. Because with the color crayons, it’s made out of wax, and essentially it’s just melting away every time you color a picture.
And these kids with this finite amount of color inside this plastic containers- you can’t use them anymore, you just toss it.
And the thing is that they’re not recyclable.
Yeah. And then the deodorant that you’re talking about – I always used mineral deodorant. It’s a mineral and, you know, it melts away. I couldn’t find anything here. But it’s…
We need to have a talk after the podcast. With the list of places.
Yup. Also like Фермер центр, you can buy there, yep. I’ve seen one.
Wow, I didn’t know about this.
Yeah. I mean, they’re not that rare. Also one more tip – I think you should reuse as many clothes items as possible. My mom calls me an old lady cause I do. Really, really, all that. If I buy honey, it usually goes in that glass jar. So I do recycle every honey jar.
You recycle it by taking…
I’m sorry, reuse it, reuse it.
So we also can say – when you are shopping for groceries in a supermarket, make sure to use less of non-recyclable plastic package and more of recyclable, like you do with honey. So for example, make sure you don’t buy a squeezable pack of mayo, but…
Yeah, it’s better, it’s definitely better to buy something which is recyclable or, like, degradable.
Another thing is cleaning supplies. Sometimes they come with a spray top, and then sometimes they just come with a product. And that’s good – you can just put the straw thing.
And actually save money with that, cause usually the ones with a spray top are more expensive.
Now, two tips to those living in Novosibirsk specifically. So, number one is, check out the map with Arctic city containers, cause those are the containers that, you know, accept the plastic, not all of them, some of them accept glass, some ones you can throw paper.
So there is a map where you can see which is closest to you, so you don’t have to throw away plastic. But make sure to rinse your plastic please, so it doesn’t have to… Well, it must not have anything, like, food residue and whatnot.
Yeah. Not rinsing, but washing.
Depends on what you had in it. Yeah, rinsing or washing.
By the way, talking about cleaning supplies and those cleaning liquids. Well, vinegar is just very good for cleaning. You don’t even have to buy special gel.
I heard that from people who are.. Well, hardcore eco-friendly people, cause they say you can use vinegar, you can use mustard instead of a, you know, dishwasher detergent or something. So, yeah.
Or orange peels soaked in water also.
Yeah. I did that some time ago.
You use it as a what? As a dishwasher detergent or what?
Basically for cleaning, I mean, shelves, you know.
The citrus would cut through.
Wow! So wait, so you leave it in water, so the orange peel in water for some time…
Yeah, you just soak them in water for like two days probably. And that’s it.
And then you can use it… So you can put it in.. Oh! I like that! I like that!
I’ve just realized that we haven’t talked about composting things. Yeah, this is one more way to reduce the waste, cause I know that plastic is obviously dangerous but one more thing is that food waste that we produce and all the peels and whatnot. When they are on a land pile and they do not have access to oxygen, so they produce some poisonous gases and whatnot.
I don’t remember the name of the gas, but yeah. Alright, and one more tip which can be useful to those who do not know – we have a store in Novosibirsk which is called Green Rezza, and it is a zero waste store.
Which means that everything in there comes with no package, so you bring your own glass jars, you bring your own plastic containers and whatnot. If you don’t have anything you can buy some containers there and bring them back and get a discount. You can basically buy a lot of things there.
It’s… Alright, so this is in a neighborhood close to Речной вокзал. I’ll send you the link, don’t worry.
I’m just curious whether all the items there are, like… I guess they are more expensive than…
Less expensive. You would expect it, like, oh, a zero waste store, this is a trend. But since they do not use the packaging, this… Cause… Well, the biggest part, component of the price of the things that we buy is packaging. It’s expensive to make, you need to transport it.
But once you sell things without the packaging, it gets more… well, less expensive, sorry, so it gets cheaper. If you compare prices, it’s, you know, you can save a lot.
What do they sell? Like, food only?
Well, they sell food, so they sell gains like chickpeas, lentils and whatnot. They sell laundry detergent, shower gels, shampoos – those shampoos, hard shampoos that you’ve mentioned, they sell that too. So they sell tea, they sell a lot of food.
They sell sweets too, like marshmallows and whatnot, and they all come without a container, so you have to bring your own. But if you don’t have, if you don’t have any empty jars and whatnot, you can go there, buy one jar and whatnot in there, and yeah. And then return it.
And they also, they sell a lot of things, Like granola, muesli, like, a lot, really, a lot. And the thing is that I compared the prices in the supermarket and in there, so a pack of lentils I remember – just half a kilo was the same price in a supermarket as a kilo in there. So you can get twice as much for the same money.
I know! I love them! I love them for that! They also accept you know, used batteries, used lightbulbs. So. And I love that, I love that there are places like that. So any other tips that we can think of?
I guess lots of them, but.. It would take like two hours to make a list.
We should make like a list and then just post it somewhere. Alright, that has been very helpful! Not only entertaining and useful, but so helpful to me personally and I hope to those who have been listening. Thank you, ladies!
Alright, so that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed ecofriendliness. So we talked about what is ecofriendliness, what we do or do not do. We talked about recycling, upcycling and downcycling. Disposable versus reusable materials, carbon footprint and how to compensate for it if you want to.
We talked about eco-shops, zero waste, different companies - so is it just a trend or is it something, you know, useful. We talked about how to encourage people around us to be more eco-friendly.
And we gave some specific tips on how to be eco-friendly in general and in Novosibirsk in particular. Thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand our conversation, you’re always welcome to our website, which is Bigappleschool.com/podcast and you can find all the scripts for all the podcasts in there.
So you can read them while listening. Cool, right? So also if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on social media, such as Instagram, VK, YouTube, Telegram – any social media basically. Just search our name, again, BigAppleSchool and that’s it! So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
And a little thing at the end – if you have listened till the end, please post eco-friendly emoji, so we can see how many people actually listen till the end. So stay tuned and we’ll see your around!