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Peace Education

Good ‘Eco-Habits’ Discussed at St. Petersburg Meeting

Russia-2017-12-10-Good ‘Eco-Habits’ Discussed at St. Petersburg Meeting

St. Petersburg, Russia—The local chapter of UPF held a meeting to close Russia’s Year of Ecology on an appropriate theme: developing eco-friendly habits for the new year.

Although Novy God (New Year) is the holiday in which Russians experience much joy and fun through exchanging gifts, we don’t have to contribute to the excessive consumerism of December. Instead, we can give gifts that are not found on the shelves of stores.

The organizer of the meeting on December 10, 2017, of eco-activists, Natalia Chigrina, head of the Northwest Russia chapter of UPF, invited the participants to create special New Year’s gifts for themselves and their families.

“Today is December 10, and we have 21 full days left until the end of the Year of Ecology. As psychologists say, within 21 days one can develop a new habit. So, give new, eco-friendly habits to yourself and the world,” Ms. Chigrina suggested.

The Year of Ecology, which Russian President Vladimir Putin declared early in 2017, was the focus of much of the talks and discussions at the meeting. What did the Year of Ecology mean for the ecological movements of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region? What was it like for our whole country?

It is possible to wait a long time for new government decrees, huge budget revenues on protecting the environment, but will this affect the life of an individual person? Nothing will change if a person does not take a step toward the nature and the people around him or her.

Often we feel indignant at the indifference and negligence that we perceive in others with regard to the environment, and we feel we would like to explain to the whole world some simple truths about economical consumption of energy and resources, the need to clean up garbage, and much more.

The participants of our meeting have used different creative approaches in their efforts to appeal to people's conscience in an interesting, accessible and understandable manner, for example, by speaking at various events and by creating their own programs. Many, like Mstislav Zhilyaev, head of the Pure Vuoksa (River) volunteer movement, set up signs during their eco-projects that insist on protecting the forest, removing garbage, etc.

It is noteworthy that, in the process of searching for new approaches to increasing the eco-consciousness of citizens and active actions against unauthorized dumping, Mr. Zhilyaev said that his attitude toward the world has changed. Surprised at how vacationers in their arrangement of a parking place just rake away the garbage left by other people, cleaning a patch of land for their rest in the bosom of nature, he realized that some time ago he himself was like that—that is, he considered his private apartment to be his only home. "I used to think so. I closed the door behind me, and that's it, I'm at home. And the entrance, the stone walls of the building—this was different, because my home was just my apartment. But now I'm going out into the countryside, and I feel that this is also my home, this whole vast world of nature," said the founder of Pure Vuoksa.

The eco-speakers said they have learned from experience that one cannot convey to others what one has not deeply realized and lived through. "You cannot become an eco-speaker without accumulated experience. First, you need to experience everything yourself. You cannot talk about some eco-habits, if you do not believe in them. It is much easier to speak about separate collection of garbage, if you have practiced it yourself," said Karina Ivchenko, head of the Eco-Speakers, a project of the public organization No More Littering.
Ms. Ivchenko held an exciting quiz for the participants of the meeting in which they described their eco-habits and decided what additional changes they could make to their daily lives to improve their ways of behavior, take care of Mother Nature, and preserve it for future generations.

Konstantin Krylov, the regional secretary general of UPF for Eurasia, spoke about the Sunhak Peace Prize, which is awarded to volunteers and environmentalists. "What worldview is behind this award? It is awarded to human rights activists and fighters for the better future of humankind in harmony with nature. We are looking for candidates in our country to receive this prize, which is higher than the Nobel Prize,” Mr. Krylov said.

In conclusion, the organizer of the meeting, Ms. Chigrina, held a small master-class in making a stylish eco-bag from a large kerchief or a piece of cloth.

This was not the first meeting in the public center called Bright World. Real Life. We are open for cooperation and dialogue to make our world cleaner, our people kinder, and our activities more interesting and informative.

It is so good to be surrounded by people who "think environmentally" and help others to choose a conscious life, conscious consumption, and bring something useful and positive to our world.

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