Clean Coast : Rules of Green Picnic

Kebab on the shore, in the fresh air is wonderful. But, as a rule, after such events the mountains of plastic plates, uneaten food, packages, barbecues are left on the shore. Some, alas, do not take all this garbage with them, turning everything around into a landfill. How to organize camping so as not to pollute the water and the woods? Is there an eco-friendly disposable tableware? Let's try to answer these questions.

We decided to check for yourself what it is - to abandon old habits and reduce the so-called ecological picnic footprint to a minimum and turned to the experts for advice: Anastasia Prikazchikova, ecobroker and journalist, Tatiana Tarelkina, ecologist, member of the movement «Green wave», and Veronika Madjarova, the representative of the separate waste collection network «Point of collection». As a result, it was found that many of our ideas about the green way of life are very controversial, and often, are the result of the so-called greenwashing – marketing techniques with green tint. Let's try to understand what was happening.

What to bring?

First, think in advance how much food you really need, so you do not have to throw it away. Secondly, decide from what you will eat. Disposable plastic plates, forks, of course, won't work.

Маркировка "эко" в данном случае – условность.

What about the paper? There are a lot of such dishes labeled as «eco» on sale. There appeared wooden disposable devices, and even biodegradable plates made from sugar cane, or rather, from the fibers that remain in the production of sugar. Should we all buy it?

«Any disposable tableware is extremely environmentally unfriendly, whatever it was made from, since it provokes a permanent use of resources and generation of waste», – says Tatiana Tarelkina.

And maybe, just burn the paper dishes in order to get rid of garbage? «You shouldn't. It is covered with a thin layer of plastic film, and when it is burned substances that negatively affect the health of humans and other living creatures are eliminated into the atmosphere», - continues Tatiana.

Тарелки из сахарного тростника нужно компостировать, иначе в них нет никакого смысла

Anastasia Prikazchikova agrees with that: «After the picnic paper plates are not suitable for recycling. And I wouldn't burn them, I am against waste incineration in principle. As for plates made from sugar cane, they are suitable for composting and will quickly decompose in natural conditions, but in our landfills, these conditions do not exist. Anyway, the trash trail remains. My friends and I, leaving last time on a picnic, took with us the usual dishes: cups, forks, knives, containers. Convenient, eco-friendly and homey, and most importantly – no trash».

Вместо полиэтиленовой скатерти мы взяли с собой салфетки из ткани

We have not coped with the desire to leave at home metal devices, replacing them with wooden ones. Dirty forks, spoons and knives were burned. We also haven't dare to take porcelain plates. The rest of the rules of eco-picnic were met: we brought the sauce in a glass jar out of the jam, as well as reusable plastic bowls and cups and sports water bottle. Drinks were bought in aluminum cans - they can be taken for recycling, and they are lighter than glass bottles. Bread baskets were replaced by braided packing out of dried fruits. A Frisbee (flying plate) was turned into the dish for vegetables – after a meal one can have a little warm up and play with it.

Ветровка вместо подстилки: экономим ресурсы и место в рюкзаке

Folding chairs were not taken, but instead of the plastic bedding we used my windbreaker, which is always handy in case of rain.

What to pack?

Another problem is how to transport food and utensils to the place of picnic. Just leaving in the backpack all in a row will not work. In addition, debris also needs to be packed. In search of a suitable packing we came across the so-called biodegradable bags. Manufacturers promise that there would not be a sign of them in three years, and even after a year! But is it true?

«It is better to use textile bags for products. «Biodegradable» garbage bags are useless», – said Anastasia Prikazchikova. – «In 99% of cases these bags fall apart faster than usual, for three years, but they leave in the soil particles of plastic. Besides, as I said, in our landfills, there are no conditions for the collapse of these packages: they need oxygen and sunlight, and the garbage is stacked there in layers».

Такую сумку придется часто стирать, но прослужит она явно дольше пакета.

So, plastic bags are evil. My first thought was to replace them with paper ones, which look nice, natural and cute. Alas, everything is much more complicated... So, that the choice between plastic and a natural material have seemed us truly philosophical.

Бумага или пластик: этот выбор не так прост, как кажется

«The process of paper package production involves much more resources, from forest to water. Thus, the production of a plastic bag requires only 6% of the water volume that goes into the manufacture of paper. Despite the fact that plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, over the entire life cycle it «eats» 36% less nonrenewable energy than paper, - explains Veronika Madjarova. – Of course, if you throw plastic bags anywhere, sooner or later they'll just strangle the entire planet. Precisely in order to slow down this process, they are prohibited by the law and replaced by the paper. Everyone has freedom of choice. And if the task is to reduce your personal eco-trace, then the best option is to reuse plastic bags, followed by delivery to the processing».

It is better not to use packages at all, or reduce their consumption to a minimum. Get yourself a beautiful and stylish ecobag or picnic basket, Tatiana Tarelkina recommends. – Remember that organic waste can simply be buried and in case of non-degradable garbage you may wrap in a newspaper or grab a small plastic bucket for it.

Эта сумка-холодильник ничего не охлаждает, но сохраняет холод

As a compromise we bought a cool box for food – and even though it is plastic, it can be used many times. Dishes and vegetables were folded in a bag made of cloth. After picnic remaining debris were taken along in a plastic bucket on the bottom of which we previously put the napkins.

How to make fire?

If you arrive on the shore of the Gulf of Finland on weekend, you will feel in the air not the smell of pine needles and sea, and not even the barbecue, but some creepy chemistry. Hundreds of tourists pour lighting fluid over the grills. And many of them leave half-used bottle in the woods, and with the beginning of summer forest fires it contributes to the spread of fire. You will discover the secret: you can safely do without this hellish mixture of liquid wax and wonder what else! Especially in the warm season and in dry weather.

The alternative is the old newspaper and paper cartons in which eggs are transported. Also tourist matches will be useful, regardless of the wind. We also managed to find on store shelves briquettes for ignition. The manufacturer claims that the kindling is completely natural.

Если выбор стоит между жидкостью и брикетами, лучше купить последние

«I've looked at the composition of some of these briquettes - sawdust and wax. Nothing potentially dangerous there, and yet I would not use them, - said Anastasia Prikazchikova. - If you have some old newspapers and magazines - it is logical to use them to ignite, rather than to spend money on bricks, for the creation of which natural and human resources have been spent. Here we are talking about sustainable consumption».

I confess – we were not able to make fire by using newspapers. Most likely, we didn't have to rush. But briquettes worked great. We managed to fry the eggplants on a skewer (we decided to make a vegan feast, because the production of meat takes a lot of water).

What to do with the trash?

Only a completely irresponsible people can leave a mountain of waste on the shore. But having been removed to the landfill without sorting, the garbage is poisoning the soil for hundreds of years.

«Option one is to sort out the debris after the picnic and to take to the point of reception for recycling the one that is suitable for recycling», - advises Anastasia Prikazchikova.

To find the nearest collection point or a container for separate collection in St.Petersburg is possible with the help of an interactive map, which is updated regularly by volunteers: Unfortunately, we are still far from Finland, where everywhere you can find containers of different colors - for aluminum cans, PET bottles, paper and organics. But it is worth to fight and to look for it.

Найти на карте свой район легко, но пунктов, принимающих все виды отходов, мало

«Soft plastic is recycled as possible eco-friendly, by mechanical means: all packets are crushed, mixed with sand and turned into plaques, which impose an underground cable», - says Veronika Madjarova.

In conclusion, a brief educational program about the timing of litter decomposition in nature. So, the foil - up to 100 years, plastic bottles - more than 100 years, plastic film - up to 200 years, aluminum cans - 500 years. Do you want to leave the planet such a legacy? We hope, you don't.

Our gratitude for assistance in preparing of the publication to the movement «No garbage any more» («Musora bolshe net»).

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