Camps to Promote Sustainability in Russia

Let’s Do It! Russia, with the cooperation of their partners and volunteers organised five clean up camps this summer. 

According to Aleksandra Maksimova, coordinator of Let‘s Do It! Russia, the goal of the camps was the clean unique places from illegal trash and to bring more public attention to the environmental actions coming up during the all-Russian Let’s Do It! clean-up in 2015. The participants of the camps came from geographically diverse places: from St. Petersburg (Russia) and the Far East, to foreign and more distant countries, such as Austria, Canada, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta and Spain.

The first one was held in the Yaroslavl region and called “Prosvet” (29.06 – 10.07). The second one was held in the Caucasus mountains south of Russia called “Clean Arkhyz” (3.08 – 12.08). The third one, “Save Baikal,” cleaned up Lake Baikal in Buryatian republic (15.07 – 15.08). The fourth one was a tourist camp “Let’s Do It! Khakassia” in the Republic of Khakassia (21 – 26.07). And the fifth “Children in Linguistic Camp” was organised by a Siberian team in cooperation with IH Novokuznetsk in Sheregesh (June-July).

Camp Experience in an Eco-friendly Lifestyle

Vincenzo Capasso, the Italian coordinator of Let’s Do It! Italy, participated for a week in the beginning of July in the camp called “Prosvet.” According to Vincenzo the place where the event was held was a charming nature sanctuary with pine trees and sandy beaches.

According to him, the camp was attended by about 150 people who, during the whole camp lived the “eco” lifestyle.

For example, for washing the dishes the participants used baking and mustard powder, powder fluoride for the teeth and biodegradable soap for personal hygiene. Thus throughout the period the campers tried to have a minimal impact on the environment.

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“The day was divided into several phases”, Vincenzo explains. “In the morning the clean-up actions took place and we put up signs to educate people to keep the environment clean, and installed containers for recycling. What is more, during the camp we collected about 2000 bags of trash, out of which 45% – were bags of recyclable materials – sent for recycling. The most waste residue were left from picnics (glass bottles, plastic packaging, fruit juices, etc.) During one of the clean-up actions we came across also an illegal landfill that had been divided into small micro landfills. In the afternoon, the educational program with lectures, seminars and workshops took place, which were held both by participants in the field and guest lecturers from Moscow and Yaroslavl. And of course there was the fun part and a fantastic atmosphere that was created during the nights around the fire where the fatigue of the day was shared by singing songs, making music, telling stories, and much more.”

Building up a New Future Together

For Vincenzo, participation in the camp gave an opportunity to understand the problems of a great country like Russia and in which way our activists and institutions can try to resolve these problems.

Here are a few more ideas about what he had to say:

“The continuous dialogue with people who are, like me, contributing their time to clean and protect the places special to them, helps to understand that you are not alone, and that everyone in their own countries are contributing to the cleaning of the whole world.

Encounters like this are important because they are a strong stimulus to continue with more passion the difficult task of cleaning up the waste from Italy, and it made me realize that we are building a new future, not only for one’s country but for the whole world.

The moments of comparison with other volunteers from Let’s Do It! movements gave me lots of new ideas about communication and promotion of clean-up actions. I found many similarities between Let’s Do It! Russia and Italy, such as we are both a movement that works locally with local associations, questioning not only how to clean up a place, but also how to keep it clean, to promoting meetings with locals, associations and institutions, etc.

The most beautiful part of the “Prosvet” camp and my experience in Russia was certainly the personal relationships developed during the event. I got to know wonderful people and I shared with them the dream of a cleaner world, collecting waste with a smile, living with the wonderful atmosphere of the camp, and sharing with them the beautiful sunsets.

In those moments there was no longer the language barrier of the Russian language and it was like being in a family where nothing bad could happen. You need to participate in one of these camps in order to understand the great energy that everyone gives you, and I definitely encourage you to take part in camps like these.”

A Wave of Let’s Do It! Camps?

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According to Aleksandra the goals of the camps were achieved.

“As the first goal of the clean-up camps was to clean up trash it was achieved for sure. Around 300 of the participants who joined the camps helped to clean the most famous and beautiful places of Russia. From “Prosvet” and “Save Baikal” 1000 trash bags were collected.

Thanks to participants who came from a lot of countries, we also achieved the second goal – to spread the idea of World Clean-up and the Russian clean-up. In addition, more people found out about the Russian clean-up campaign during this summer through these camps and some of the participants want to be involved to the Russian Let’s Do It! team.”

“These type of camps help to gather up the environmentally conscious people with willpower  to make a change, and mix the relaxed atmosphere of the camp with useful work such as the clean-ups. For sure it would be great to have a “wave of camps” like these all over the world held by other Let’s Do It! teams. We could offer to share the experience in organising the camps and to support international exchange of the participants.”

Thanks to the organisers and all the participants of the camps: Eco-movements and organisations “Musora.Bolshe.Net“, “Save Baikal”, “CentrEcon”, Let’s do it! Russia teams and especially the foreign participants!

Take a look of the video from the Siberian camp:

More general info about the camps here: http://sdelaem.info/news/ekologicheskie-lagerya-2015-summer-clean-camps-russia

Article by Vincenso Capasso and Heidi Koolmeister for the Let’s do it! Newsletter