As nearly half of the Internet is going haywire arguing about Donald Trump and his next move, one cannot help but notice that the name of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, comes up in the news almost as often. This is perfectly understood, as people all over the planet, especially in the Western world, are still very much interested in the interaction between the world’s two largest superpowers.

But what do news media consumers in the West really know about Russia? Besides of it being “Putin’s dominion” and “the land of sanctions”, two topics that currently seem to be dominating the Western news media publications on Russia, do we often get to read about various aspects of common people’s life there? Sadly, for many Westerners, Russia still remains very much a mystery.

Amazing as it may seem to an average Western news consumer, there is a lot of similarities between Russia and the Western world, especially when it comes to the latest ideas in green thinking, sustainability and living harmoniously with the planet. Very recently, I was lucky to visit friends in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, a city whose history and culture are as eventful and amazing as its architecture and its contemporary night life. At the same time, Saint-Petersburg’s dwellers have long recognized a number of environmental issues that the city currently faces (one of the most serious being the problem of a sustainable garbage disposal), and they were not going to sit idly by.


An ecological movement called Musora.Bolshe.Net (“No. More. Waste.”), which was formed in Saint-Petersburg in 2004 by an ecologist Denis Stark, now has its branches in 90 cities across Russia and 5 former Soviet countries. Having adopted the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” as their motto and the cornerstone of their ideology, they promote reduction of consumption, reusing of old items, and recycling waste materials. This is a large network involving thousands of people, who share the same values and act toward the common goal. They organize many green initiatives across Russia: large-scale cleaning campaigns, promotion and installation of systems for waste sorting and recycling in the apartment buildings, trees planting initiatives, educational campaigns, and many more.

If you happen to have a Russian acquaintance, then you probably know that for many Russians, the New Year is the most important and an almost zealously observed holiday. Around this time, a lot of families bring home Christmas trees to decorate – and when the holidays are over, normally the trees go to garbage bins. Of course, not every family gets a natural spruce or pine, often opting for a plastic alternative, but a lot of people still go for the real thing. No one knows exactly how many conifers end up in incinerators.

For the third year in a row, green activists from Musora.Bolshe.Net organize a large-scale recycling campaign, aimed at collecting the discarded Christmas trees from people who wish to donate them, in order to chip the trees with the wood shredders and send the chipped wood to wild animal shelters, a local bison nursery, horse training academies, or many other places where the former trees are consumed by our quadruped buddies. The numbers are steadily growing: from mere 250 recycled trees in Saint-Petersburg alone in the 2015, it grew to 2350 recycled conifers in 2017 in the main city and the smaller towns that surround the Venice of the North.

One of the organizers, Damir, with a donated conifer. More on Damir in our later posts!

…My friends live in a place called Vsevolozhsk, a town located approximately 20 miles from Saint-Petersburg. Its night life may not be as vibrant as that of Saint-Petersburg, but its inhabitants are adopting the green way of living at an amazing rate. The local branch of Musora.Bolshe.Net is one of the main facilitators and promoters of green thinking in the town. For the second year in a row, Vsevolozhsk participated in the Christmas tree-collecting initiative that took place on January, 23. Activists from Musora.Bolshe.Net set up four collection stations throughout the town, and received 95 trees in just two hours – it is a lot for a town this size. However, the organizers say they are glad, because the scope of the event keeps on growing. People who donated their trees, mentioned that they especially liked that the green initiative was organized as a family fun, during which they received a lot of useful information on sustainable consumption and the green way of living in their town.

People bring their “yolochkas” – “Christmas Trees” to the the collection station.

Musora.Bolshe.Net organized similar events in other cities in Russia, such as Moscow, Russia’s capital, Yaroslavl, Arkhangelsk. The idea of recycling Christmas trees, originally based on the initiative at a zoo in Czech Republic, is now going across borders again: a similar campaign was just held in Riga, Latvia.

The most important thing, according to the green activists, is that the town administration has finally started to pay attention and show interest in the initiative. The activists from Musora.Bolshe.Net hope that in the next year, the Christmas tree-collecting initiative will fully rely on the support of local administration of the cities and towns. In order to ensure this, they continue to promote and spread the green word throughout the country, tirelessly working on making Russia more sustainable.

Another green activist, Olga Kustova, sends our readers a big warm hello!


Remembering Barry Commoner

Barry Commoner, an American biologist, leading ecologist and one of the founders of the modern environmental movement, would’ve turned 98 today.

In his 1971 book, The Closing Circle, he was one of first thinkers to bring the idea of sustainability to a mass audience, suggesting an eco-socialist response to the poverty vs. population growth debate, and in 1990, he published Making Peace With the Planet, an analysis of the ongoing environmental crisis, pointing out that the way human society produces goods needs to be revised.

He formulated the so-called Four Laws of Ecology, which remain relevant even today and will still be relevant for a long time to come. Here they are:

  1. Everything is connected to everything else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.
  2. Everything must go somewhere. There is no “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.
  3. Nature knows best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is likely to be detrimental to that system. We need to be closer to nature, but we need to learn to co-exist with it, using natural resources sustainably.
  4. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless forms.

Read more on Barry Commoner here:

Commoner’s biography on HowStuffWorks:

Jeff Hogan’s review of Michael Egan, “Barry Commoner and the Science of Survival: The Remaking of American Environmentalism” (MIT Press, 2007), online version:

CNN: “With 1 male left worldwide, northern white rhinos under guard 24 hours”

How did we get to the situation in which the wildlife is rapidly becoming extinct?

Are we aware of our moral responsibility to the nature, and to the next generations of people that come after us?

What did those cold-blooded scoundrels, known as poachers, think every time they killed a white rhino for its horn? Why did they do it – to earn their living, for the sake of some wealthy customer somewhere, or as a cruel sport?

Or perhaps they did not think anything at all as they pulled the trigger on the living being who shared this planet with them?

You may ask yourself some of these questions as you read through this article.

Read more:

With 1 male left worldwide, northern white rhinos under guard 24 hours, by Faith Kerimi (CNN)

Also, be sure to read:

Poachers kill last four wild northern white rhinos, by Lewis Smith (The Times, 2008)

A northern white rhino has died. There are now five left in the entire world, by Abby Ohlheiser (The Washington Post, 2014)

Image: Wikimedia

Japanese Farmer Defying Danger Of Radiation To Save Animals

Much respect to Matsumura-san, resident of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.

Until March 11th, 2011, he was a 50-year-old rice farmer in fifth generation, living, like his ancestors, in harmony with what mother nature gave him, always making sure she can replenish what he took from her.

When Fukushima nuclear power plant exploded as a consequence of Tohoku earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, the radiation levels in the area reached 17 times its normal amount, and it became obvious that living in the area of Tomioka was too dangerous. The residents were ordered to abandon Tohoku.

In May, 2011, the Japanese government ordered to kill all livestock due to lack of care and food.
Naoto Matsumura did not agree with this.
He returned to live in the deserted village of Tomioka to save those abandoned animals who could still be helped.

‪#‎fukushima‬ ‪#‎environment‬ ‪#‎saveourplanet‬ ‪#‎animalwelfare‬

Climate Silence Now!

11 year old Itzcuauhtli of the Earth Guardians is taking a vow of silence until world leaders speak up about Climate Change.
On December 10, everyone’s invited to devote whatever span of time one chooses to join him in the silence strike to draw attention to worldwide environment and climate issues.

Let’s join Itzcuauhtli and the Earth Guardians, to show that we care and we stand for these amazing kids!

#Itzcuauhtli #Earth Guardians #Climate Change #take action