When we were going to school in the ‘80s, our classes competed with each other on how much recycling we brought to school. My family didn’t have a car, so kids lugged piles of old newspapers and magazines tied with twine to school gym where they were weighed, and the number of kilos tallied up for each class. It was a challenge for me, considering a tram ride and a long walk, but competition and peer pressure are great motivators. 

These days Russia may not be on the forefront of sustainability, but times are changing here too. St. Petersburg has committed to recycling up to 70% of its garbage by 2025. In the meantime, activists and organizations are creating ways to recycle and reuse. 

Recyclemap shows the locations of permanent receptacles. You can pick what you’d like to recycle and the map will show you where to take it. 

Sorted Collection” are activist-led events around town that usually take place on Saturdays. You can bring a variety of recyclables, but what is accepted varies by location. I was surprised that paper and metal, for example, are not always accepted. Check the map for an event near you. 

Clothes can be donated to Spasibo stores that will distribute them to those in need, sell some in their second-hand stores and recycle the rest into new yarn. 

If you live in the northern part of town, consider taking your recycling to Mega Parnas. The mall recently opened a recycling station in its parking lot and accepts paper, cardboard, glass, metal, Tetra Pak and several types of recyclable plastic. They’ll also give you a special passport where you can collect stamps and receive a gift from Mega and Ikea. 

The easiest way to cut back on plastic is to avoid buying plastic bags but rather carry around an avoska, a mesh bag that doesn’t take a lot of space and is easy to clean. Its popularity goes back to the Soviet Times when it wasn’t as much a factor of being green but the hope for a lucky purchase. So maybe now it’s just a great way to go green, and get lucky. 

Feeling ambitious? Try following our Zero Waste experiment for a week!

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