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Most Detailed Guide On How To Be Zero Waste In Belarus

If you’ve been to Minsk you couldn’t but notice how clean it is. But while the streets in the city center are clean as a whistle that doesn’t mean trash in Belarus is non-existent.

Just go off the beaten tourist track, look around the corner and you’ll see there’s a lot of work for Belarusians to do to live according to zero-waste philosophy.

According to some calculations, the average Belarusian produces 350 kg of garbage per year and the Minsker produces even more – up to 500 kg. That’s a lot!

So first things first, zero waste in Belarus. What’s is so special about it and where to start with when you are here? Let’s deal with specifics together.

Zero waste map

First, study this zero waste mapThere are several categories of package free places: shops, groceries, confectioneries, spots with household chemistry and cosmetics in bulk, street food, secondhand shops.

Each category has its own marker and layer – just tick the box of the category you’re interested in.

Zero waste map is a community project that allows anyone to add a new place or even a layer to the map. Simply click on Add a point to the map in the blue field that is above the map.

You won’t find the places where one can bring items to recycle, shops with fruits and vegetables (almost every shop has such an option) as well as ecological goods that are sold in packaging.

green map is for these purposes. To see where one can leave glass, paper, batteries, energy-saving lamps, etc, choose the necessary category on the left side of the page.

Food

In Belarus, you can easily buy products in bulk into your own package/container or one of those plastic bags you’ve collected (yeah, everyone has them) in ordinary shops and supermarkets.

For example, you can always get fresh grocery and local products (fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, tea, coffee, grains, flour) in your bag at Kamaroŭka market.

 

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Публикация от Минский Комаровский рынок (@komarovka.by)

Go for reusable bags for bread or fruits, honey, sour cream, flour, and spices opt for jars. Bring your own container and after using it, bring it back to farmers so they reuse it.

Also, when buying from farmers you not only support the local economy but avoid receipts by paying cash. And yes, the cashiers are obliged to ask you whether you need a plastic bag. 

❗So stay alert and politely refuse.

Even though there’s no such a law prohibiting to use your own bag, in some places, such as gastronomy or culinary departments, you might not be allowed to do that.

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Delivery of products from a supermarket or food from cafes and restaurants might sound like a good idea to save your back from carrying heavy weights.

However, be aware that products are usually brought with lots of packaging. See what works best for you and the environment and try to find the compromise.

Some desperate coffee lovers out there? Bring your own reusable cup or thermos before rushing for errands. Sipping from your own cup (forget plastic straws!) you support My Cup, Please! initiative.

On the website, one can find the locations that are cup-friendly. To get plain water, ask a bartender to fill your water bottle up or serve it in a glass.

 

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Публикация от My_Cup_Please в Беларуси! (@my_cup_please)

Sharing food is another zero waste option. Pishcha collects products (shops in Belarus throw away 50,000 tons of food annually) from supermarkets and transfers them to those in need.

It mainly works with manufacturers but if you have fresh food you will unlikely eat, feel free to contact them. Or join a food sharing community where people are happy to give away their food for free. Just be quick to reply!

Household (not) chemistry and cosmetics

Sadly, there are not so many places where one can get household chemistry and cosmetics in bulk. One of such places is Zerro, this is where you can get that organic package free shampoo bar.

Apart from popular zero waste goods, there are reusable beeswax wrap, natural caoutchouc contraceptives, eco-friendly bags with a scoop for cleaning after your dog, natural bast wisps, reusable washable cotton pads, to name a few.

 

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Публикация от ZERRO (@zerro.belarus)

IGreen has some other brands of package free shampoo, soap, and household eco-chemistry. A fancy cloth bag can get you into the habit of bringing a reusable bag to a shop instead of a plastic one.

Check out Ecokit and Plush Store for their reusable bags, straws, and napkins, bamboo toothbrushes, toys and accessories made of natural materials.

Clothes & accessories

Zero wasters can donate, sell or give away clothes, shoes, dishes, toys, and accessories. Just bring the stuff that doesn’t make you happy anymore (but can make someone else) to charity shop Kalilaska.

The shop distributes 95% of these items to those in need. The rest 5% goes on sale to cover the costs of the project.

Have a desire to totally revamp your wardrobe? There is a whole bunch of thrift stores at your disposal: Adzienne, ModaMax, Econom City, and Mega Second Hand. Check the map to find the closest to you.

Complement your outfit with a bag made by yourself out of recycled materials. Torba show not only gives a second life to fabric but also teaches others how to do that in a stylish and ecological way. 

Medicine

Medicines that are flushed or thrown away can harm the environment as they remain chemically active. Bring your medicines to the 40th Minsk polyclinic (3, Lyutsinskaya St).

Put them in a special container for the expired medicines in the lobby during the working hours of the polyclinic (Mon-Fri: 7 am – 8 pm; Sat: 8.30 am – 3 pm).

Electronics

You can drop off used batteries, energy-saving lamps and broken electronics in special containers at the supermarkets, shopping malls, regular and electronic shops. 

Check out the map with locations where hazardous waste is collected.

Other

Kufar is an online platform where one can get secondhand clothes, also electronics, furniture, books and, oh man, literally everything, at good prices.

But before heading for thrift shops try your luck at platforms with giveaways, Give away for free. Minsk is one of them. You may find what you need and have it for free. 

In the past, Dobry Rovar was a free bike rent, but now the project distributes bicycles for people in need. You can either donate or ask for a new two-wheel friend if you can’t afford one.

Zero waste initiatives and activists

Who are those green warriors? From governmental to private,  there are plenty of organizations and initiatives that support anti-garbage lifestyle in Belarus.

Green Network and the Center for Environmental Solutions (CES) always come up with the ideas on how to be more aware of their ecological footprint.

Have you seen these posters with cute colorful raccoons and recycling bins around the country? Target 99 aims to separate and recycle 99% of trash.

Twice a year Let’s Do It! invites volunteers for a global clean up. Anyone can join the next campaign. Or you can bring all those bottles and lids from your home to Zaduma. With the help of a small manufactory, they give old plastic new life.

Banana Van makes it easy to let things go – be it furniture, electronics, house items, clothes or toys. The van comes to your house, takes all the stuff and sells it so that you can donate to the projects you’d like to support (see the full list on the website).

The full list of environmental organizations in Belarus and their locations is here.

The main takeaway

Living a zero-waste lifestyle in Belarus is challenging. Wherever you are, it takes time and patience to work out a new model of consumer behavior. Getting creative is what can help you in finding your own way to zero waste living.

If you have questions regarding zero waste and recycling in Belarus (or just feel lonely on your ecological path) talk to the eco-botTo have a private conversation with @EcoideaBot you need a Telegram account.

Have some practical tips to share? Leave them in comments below – we would love to know.


Text by Nadzeya Prasvirava. Sources: belta.by, ecoidea.by, greenbelarus.info. Preview image: torbashow

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