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Regular version of the site

Culture Cafe: Ecology

Go green and save the planet!

We are happy to tell you about our Culture Café that took place on April, 6th! Thank you to all Russian and foreign students who contributed to it. That evening we learnt a lot about ecological issues in India, Finland, Italy, US, Russia, Belgium and Ghana.

Culture Cafe: Ecology

As you all know, another Culture Сafé was held on April, 6. For the very first time it was dedicated not to a country, its culture and traditions, but to a socially important global issue – ecology. One Russian and six international students spoke up to reflect the main ecological problems their countries are facing and the ways their motherlands solve them.

The first country was Russia. An HSE student and a member of an eco-organization Green HSE – Irina – introduced the main environmental issues that currently exist in the country. They were not just enumerated as catastrophic results of human activity but shown as the problems that have solutions. A paper mill on the shore of Baikal waiting to be shut down by the government or deforestation turning into forestation by the persistence of thousands of volunteers were excellent examples. Still the main problem was set – it’s the lack of personal awareness of the real ecological situation in the world. So, Culture Café: Ecology, became the place to educate HSE students and provide them with knowledge on different environmental issues.

The first international student – Sam – was from Belgium. He expressed his opinion on eco-problems from a 3,5-years-vegetarian’s point of view. Meat, fish, dairy, fruit, vegetables and their consumption’s impact on environment turned out to be an extremely interesting topic. Did you know that food systems’ impact on world greenhouse gas emissions accounts for between 18% to 29% of global emissions? Now you do!

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As he said: “The most important thing in an environmental-friendly diet is to eat as local as you can and as much unprocessed food as you can”.

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The next student was Lorenzo from Italy talking about the eco-situation in his country. We learnt that Italy is close to the goal of having 50% of the garbage collected separately recycled which cannot be compared to the current 2% in Russia.

But how can we talk about Italy without mentioning food? You could probably guess that Italians truly care about it and they have very strict quality requirements and laws, sometimes even too strict. An unusual fact: as researchers have found out, if an Italian family has to start saving money, it prefers to save on everything except for food as it is an extremely important part of local culture and traditions.

Let’s move from Europe to a very different country – India, represented by Harshad.

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This is what you can see near almost every Indian river. Quite horrifying, isn’t it? Water pollution is the major environmental issue in the country.

Harshad told us that the industrial enterprises are the country’s largest pollutants that pour untreated sewage into watersheds. The biggest question is why the Indians, who traditionally consider rivers to be their mothers, still treat them this way. Nevertheless, the work is being done: there are lots of foreign volunteers eager to clean rivers and banks in order to save the beauty and the environment of India. Other countries as Israel, Germany and the EU itself are the ones who lend the machines and give technical support.

Going to the North, we’ve reached Finland and an international student Matti spoke about his country. Showing two sides of the ecological situation, he made everybody realize that it is up to a person whether to contribute into saving the environment or to stay indifferent. According to WWF, the ecological footprint of an average Finn is more than three times larger than the global average. Cold climate, long distances and a tendency to use private means of transport are the main reasons for this. Nevertheless, the country has a developed system of recycling that Russia should definitely try to implement. Matti also told us about decreasing biodiversity, pollutions of the Baltic Sea that should be solved by countries all together.

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The last word belonged to Godfrid from Ghana, who told us about a local monthly event when every single person cleans the streets, and to Croix from the USA with some curious facts about recycling and connection between environmental and demographic issues.

Such an unusual topic of Culture Café turned out to make it extremely interesting and educational for everyone. The speakers’ presentations were followed by having a cup of tea and discussions that created the atmosphere of a proper Café. What is even more important, all the people understood that talking about making a change differs from actually making it. You should learn, develop yourself and think twice: before purchasing a thing – maybe you don’t need it, or putting it into trash bin – maybe the product can be recycled.

Go green and save the planet!

Prepared by Irina Klimova, ESN HSE Moscow.