Asia Plus: Tajik Greta Thunberg. Eco-Activist Shares Her Ideas How to Help the Environment
She believes that the world of the future will be the world, where we will live in harmony with the environment, rather than harming the environment.
Green Community and Separate Collection of Wastes
“It is obvious, that we lack efficient waste disposal system. People put their wastes to bins that are placed by residential buildings; then a garbage truck comes, collects the wastes and brings it to a landfill. But such system is only workable in big cities. I am studying in Khorog. In snowy weather trucks cannot collect wastes, and for the lack of better options people set afire the garbage dumps that are organized near their houses. People complain that Dushanbe does not have enough waste bins, but they simply did not see how things are in other cities of Tajikistan” – says Anisa.
As a first step, the University community organized delivery of wastes to Dushanbe for further recycling.
“I searched online and asked friends to advise on places that accept and recycle wastes. The only solution is to transport wastes from Khorog to Dushanbe. We collect paper and plastic bottles, and send them for recycling. Of course, many people could say that we leave additional carbon footprint by using trucks to transport wastes. But we do not hire trucks specifically for our purpose – we use only those trucks that go to Dushanbe anyway. We have three boxes on campus: for transparent plastic, for opaque plastic and for paper. All boxes are labeled, but students still put wastes into wrong boxes, some of them do it to spite us”, shares Anisa.
According to Anisa, eco-activists can face negative attitude all over the world. And it’s not only about environmental issues – people do not like it, when you reproof them about anything. Anisa has to regularly ask her friends to stop doing something that is not proper, and as a result many of her friends cut off all contacts with her. And it is even more difficult to ask strangers to behave properly.
Try to start with yourself
Other countries of Central Asia have private factories that recycle many different types of wastes. Tajikistan does not have a workable waste sorting system, but it also has recycling plants.
“I spent my entire summer looking for recycling plants, and can assure you that Dushanbe has some enterprises that recycle paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, batteries, mercury-containing lightbulbs and glass”, shares Anisa.
If not you, then who else?
Together with other UCA students she developed a business-plan to reduce the amount of wastes generated in Dushanbe. The business plan should now be finalized and implemented. This summer she intends to launch a small eco-school. She also runs "My cup, please" project.
“This is an international movement that discourages using disposable plastic cups for coffee and other drinks and promotes reusable alternatives – using ceramic cups in case of café and bringing own cup in case of coffee-to-go. As a part of the project we visited different cafes and encouraged the owners to provide discounts or other bonuses for those who bring their own reusable mugs and do not use disposable cups. We had a meeting with the owners of a popular coffee shop in Dushanbe; we told them that they could promote themselves as eco-conscious business. They said they were not interested. But the progress is still dramatic. We often receive positive feedback and comments”, says she.
According to Anisa, the consequences can be catastrophic.
Notions of eco-activism are hard to promote, but the girl does not lose hope:
Tips to help the environment:
- Use canvas bags for shopping
- Use eco-bags for fruits and vegetables
- Use reusable drinking straws and thermoses
- Replace dish-washing sponge with eco-friendly alternatives
- Use bamboo toothbrush instead of plastic
- Buy food from local producers
Anisa has dramatically changed her attitude to her diet and self-care:
- Stopped eating red meat and chicken;
- Cut down on dairy products;
- Gives left over food to animals;
- Freezes berries, fruits and other foods for future use;
- Cut down on cosmetics;
- Stopped using liquid soap and shower gel, and now uses regular soap;
- Walks longer distances;
- Tries to use public transportation instead of taxi;
- Buys clothing that stays trendy for extended period of time, and wears it for as long as possible;
- Gives her old clothing to charity organizations.