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Helping people and nature - it's so easy!

07/09/2020

It seems that ecological initiatives were at our offices since the beginning. But actually they were not. Everything began with shy attempts of colleagues who believed that together we can make the world cleaner.



We interviewed Elizaveta Lyaschenko, the active participant of the ecological movement at the Voronezh office, and asked her about the roots of the eco-initiatives.

- What ecological initiatives do you have at the Voronezh office?

- There are three major initiatives. One of them - "Little Cap" - is more like a charity project. In St. Petersburg it is"Kind Caps". Collecting caps began here, in Voronezh, then colleagues in St. Petersburg picked it up.

The second one is a separate collection. Practically we collect all processed raw materials, but not everywhere in the city it is even possible to hand over such quantity. Colleagues bring fr om house a lot of raw materials before the export, we lay out everything and then we transfer to the supplier.

And there is another initiative. We use a lot of paper, we print language tasks, some documents without confidential information. This paper is lying in colleagues’ drawers without purpose, but it can be used from the other side! I entered an initiative "Draft copy". I made a box and attached a piece of paper to it  wh ere I wrote that it is possible to leave draft copies. If someone needs to print something not so important, he can use this paper. What was not used can be carried in waste paper.

- Lisa, tell us how did the story of ecological movement in Voronezh office began?

Everything began with charity. Once in a while we held charitable events, and it became clear that colleagues are ready to help. Then Ira Harchenko started the stock "Little Cap” in the companies. This initiative shows that it is easy to help both people, and the environment. If it’s you who finished the milk bottle in the office, you throw a cap to the special box. You drank Coke for lunch – you throw it again. And like this you help children as the profit goes on charity. And what is convenient, it is target collecting, you see the specific person who you can help. And also you can help the nature!



- We have the same initiative in Saint Petersburg. Was it inspired by Voronezh colleagues?

Oh, it is an interesting story. After the “Little Caps” campaign’s start I began to look for the St. Petersburg colleagues who can agree to start the same activity. Nobody responded. Once during my trip to St. Petersburg we were sitting in the kitchen with my colleague and were discussing how would be great to start this initiative here. He volunteered to help to find to me the coordinator. In a week he thanks me for the fact that I after all organized collecting caps directly from Voronezh. But it wasn’t me! It turned out that colleagues started it in their own – is it a strange coincidence or a miracle?

- How did you start separate waste collection?

ou already spend most of the time here, and then you can bring your recyclables from home. But it all came down to the fact that all procuring organizations needed large volumes. Here it is easy for manufacturing companies, for example, a gingerbread factory or a window factory, their waste volumes are large. What do we have here? Somebody bought a salad in the store, he ate yogurt for lunch - incomparably less. But still we talked with the administration, everyone was in favor, but it was not clear how to organize the storage and whether people needed it. I conducted a survey  and it turned out that people liked this idea! But it wasn’t entirely clear how to collect it.

I decided that I would collect for myself. I asked the administrative director for a box, put it in a closet next to the workplace and began to collect waste paper there (we have a collection point just opposite the office). Then I began to collect waste separately at home and at work began to add plastic and glass to the waste paper. Then I volunteered for the environmental movement, which, among other things, organized actions to collect recyclables. So I met a company that collects polypropylene. It turned out that they can collect rare types of recyclables, and they have storage facilities. And we were able to agree on a pilot project in the office!

- Great! How did you organize the distribution and storage of recyclables in the office?



Our partners offered to give us waste collection tanks, but we decided to use paper towel boxes. Firstly, the box itself is recyclable, since it is made of cardboard. In addition, in such a pilot version it is easier to understand which system will really be convenient. This helps to avoid buying unsuitable containers. As a result, we arranged these boxes, printed instructions for them, and started from two kitchens. It was not easy. At first, colleagues threw off what was impossible, because they had no experience of separate collection. Why didn’t we get out of these boxes! We explained to people what can be folded and what not. For example, napkins, candy wrappers and paper towels are not allowed. But literally in a month everything was fine with us.

- How is the process of removal of the accumulated waste built?

Once a month and a half, ecotaxi comes to us and takes our recyclables. We are not the biggest supplier so they laugh and say that it is like social responsibility for them.

- How did your colleagues take the initiative?

As I said, at first there were difficulties, as my colleagues did not have the habit of separate waste collecting, but now everything is fine. After the start of the initiative, guys from another open space and another project turned to me. They offered help and they really help now. Then a colleague Lena from the far wing of our office joined us. So we have been working since the end of summer 2019.

Recently, we opened a new kitchen, and a colleague immediately volunteered to help. When I was on vacation or a business trip, guys also helped and even coordinated the export several times.

I believe that the pilot is successful. More and more colleagues send waste for recycling both from the office and from home. People are interested, and we, for our part, are ready to help with what we can. It was very cool and interesting for me how this initiative brought people together.

Now the initiative is temporarily stopped for two reasons:

Of course, the pandemic has made adjustments to our lives. Now there are too few people in the office, most of the coordinators work from home. In general, this is obtained unjustifiably by the labor costs of all participants in the process.

Even before we were all forced to leave for the home office, the administrative director and I decided to reorganize the current process. Volunteering is great (I am sincerely grateful to everyone who supported, was interested in the topic, helped to monitor the waste cans, change them, prepare recyclables for export, we even had our own small spontaneous brigade of movers!), but still we all have direct duties and life outside the office. And the collection volumes were already impressive. In addition, I wanted to get away from the boxes and make the gathering places more nice.

In general, such a small re-orga team began its work, but then a virus intervened in the case, and everything was frozen so far. Again, we’ll come back to it when the most of colleagues return to the office, when it will be clear what the new life of the office will be like, which procurers will “survive” and, in general, the new reality will become a little more tangible and understandable.

At the moment, any employee can use the ecotaxi service, which recently appeared in the city. You can make an individual application for export or join the neighbors (in many areas people are united). Also, as usual, you can ask me any questions by email.