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"Even where punished, people will litter"
The head of the project "Island of Dreams" Natalia Yakunina - about eco-volunteers and education
Every year volunteers from the cities of Russia and Europe come to the Far East to do environmental work on a picturesque island in Peter the Great Bay. This summer, from 8 to 29 August, the fifth anniversary change of the ecological camp "Primorskaya Island Volunteer Service" will take place on the Reineka Island. Just like in Primorye there was such a camp, why volunteers not only clean up garbage, but are still engaged in educational work, and how to improve the ecological literacy of the society, Natalia Yakunina, the head of the "Island of Dreams" project told EastRussia.
- I am a patriot of Vladivostok, I love our sea and mountains. We live in an amazing unique city, unlike any other in Russia, - says Natalia Yakunina. - In the summer of 2011 I traveled the country and met Baikal eco-volunteers. They were adults with families, they worked as theater actors, but they found time to do something useful for the environment. They inspired me very much, and I decided that a similar project should be made in Vladivostok.
The idea was realized only three years later. Natalia met like-minded people who wanted to conduct a subbotnik on the Reineke Island and recruited assistants. After exchanging ideas, they decided to jointly create the "Dream Island" project aimed at eliminating the spontaneous dumps and environmental literacy of the society. For the first cleaning came very few people. But the next subbotnik has already collected about 80 people. Yakunina won the grand prize in the local contest "Youth Initiative", and the first ecological camp was organized for these funds in the summer of 2014.
This summer, the fifth session of the Primorskaya Island Volunteer Service ecological camp will take place. It always takes place in August - the most favorable month for living in nature in the Primorsky Territory. Over the four years of the project, more than 700 volunteers from 22 cities in Russia and seven European countries have carried out 15 major environmental measures, removed about 7,5 thousand bags of sorted waste from the islands, and eliminated more than 20 spontaneous dumps. And Natalya Yakunina became a laureate of a number of youth awards. In 2014 - “Youth Initiative” awards, in 2015 - “There is something for that!”, In 2016 - “Youth vector”, “An indifferent citizen” and the prize of the public chamber of the Russian Federation “I am a citizen!”, In 2017 - "Volunteer of Russia". She recently represented the Primorsky Territory at a meeting of women leaders of the country's best volunteer projects, which was held at the Federation Council.
"Adults of completely different professions come to us, but they are united by love of nature, indifference to the fate of the islands," Natalya says. - To participate in the change, volunteers make an organizational contribution in advance, which is fully spent for their meals, transfer from the city to the island and back, the program and so on. For those who come not the first time, we give a discount of 50%. Every year we attract partners supplying with products and necessary equipment for harvesting. For the change, volunteers recruit about a thousand large bags of garbage, which have to be carried around the island by hand or carried by their own forces. We would very much like to get on a test drive a small tractor or micro truck, as well as a boat to make raids on other islands. Sponsor, who is ready to make such a gift, unfortunately, has not yet been found.
On the Reineka, three weeks before the shift begins, the organizational group calls in and prepares the camp for the arrival of volunteers: it builds a tent camp, organizes a dining room, toilets, and a shower. The next day after the arrival is a symbolic dedication to volunteers with the issuance of branded T-shirts and equipment, as well as safety instruction.
Volunteers unite in the Environmental Protection, Patrol and Educational Service (EMERD) and every day go to raids for 3-4 hours. They sort out garbage, eliminate spontaneous landfills and garbage dumps, shrubs and flowers are planted in their place. In addition, volunteers talk with tourists and the local population of the island on the topic of environmental literacy: explain how to relax without harming nature, how to sort garbage, to minimize the amount of waste that must be taken from the island.
- It is very difficult to arrange garbage collection on the islands. There is a small village on the Reineka, but the administration can not find a contractor, because it's not easy and unprofitable to get far. In addition, the population is small, and mostly the garbage is left by tourists, - says Yakunina. - Part of the holiday-makers support us: every year the landfill becomes smaller. To minimize the amount of garbage, a separate collection is mandatory. Exporting food waste is a waste of resources. At the station of coastal communications there are separate tanks for garbage, where you can throw away bags, getting off the ferry. Last year, some carriers forbade carrying large bags. We hope that this summer we will be able to agree with them.
Reineke Island is a place where wild nature and minimal civilization are combined. Three times a week you can get there by municipal boat. Next to it - already uninhabited islands.
- Popular among tourists is the island of Popov, but there is a big settlement and, accordingly, a bigger dump. We decided to start with a small territory to work out the system, and further implement it on large areas, - explains Natalia. - When there is money, we take the boat for rent and leave with raids on other islands, including Rikorda. But this is one or two trips per season, and we want, of course, that such trips are made more often.
The volunteers of the ecological camp on the shift not only work, but also rest. In their spare time they bathe, sunbathe, excursions, sea walks, various master classes and lectures, and screenings of environmental films are organized for them. And they pull up the English language, because among the volunteers every shift is foreigners.
Last spring, the "Dream Island" project for the first time organized a festival in Vladivostok "Day of Primorsky Islands". In the educational and scientific museum of the FEFU there was a photo exhibition "Islands of the Primorye" and an exposition of the museum "Animal and Flora of the Gulf of Peter the Great". On the opening day, local scientists, ecologists and local historians read thematic lectures about protected islands, survival in the wild and talked about various volunteer projects. Organizers plan to do similar educational activities annually.
- To instill in society an ecological culture is one of our highest priorities. Fines are intimidating. But despite the fine, people will still litter. Therefore, it is important to instill a culture. The problem cannot be solved by intimidation, - Natalya believes. - It is necessary to conduct large-scale volunteer actions to make the environmental movement fashionable. It would be good to broadcast high-quality environmental advertising on central channels: to tell that nature needs to be protected, because a bottle thrown into the sea entails global environmental problems. Plastic has already entered the food chain. We eat fish, and along with it we consume particles of plastic. There are many things to tell to change the consciousness of people.
At the end of 2017, President Vladimir Putin signed a law establishing rules for handling waste and securing separate collection of garbage in Russia. Earlier in Vladivostok, private companies that organize separate collection of garbage in several districts of the city have already worked. But they are gone from the market because of unprofitable business. The blame is, in their opinion, unconscious townspeople and lack of support for the city administration.
- The new law implies the installation of two types of containers - one for food waste, the other for the rest. And then garbage will be exported and divided into marshalling yards. To educate people about environmental awareness is a bad idea, "Natalya believes. - It is necessary to separate garbage at home, as they do in Europe. This is how the habit is developed and culture is formed. I think that if the citizens are provided with the conditions, they will sort the garbage. But it is necessary that no one remains who does not know why these separate containers are. And for this, I repeat, we need a large-scale enlightenment work.