As an avid recycler, I was eager to keep up such a habit when moving from Canada to Ukraine. My concern was that I would not be able to realise this. Now, after four months of living in Kyiv, it has been apparent that accessibility to recycling facilities is limited; but these facilities do exist. My recent trip to the No Waste Ukraine recycling station on Saperno-Slobidska Street proved to be a challenge – but one that I was up for.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Recycling in Ukraine is an inconvenient task: one must go out of their way to drop off their recyclables. For me, this meant a train ride and a more-or-less manageable walk in the cold. You can imagine that after allowing my recyclables to collect over the span of a month, the trek to the recycling station shaped up to be a full-body workout. Having been accustomed to the convenience of recycling in my own backyard, I was really hoping that all of this effort was going to pay off in the end.
Ukraine lags far behind in terms of recycling. In 2015, it was estimated that just 3.1% of garbage was being recycled, compared to 48.1% of other European countries. The majority of our trash is taken to landfill, when in reality, we can do so much better.
Paper, plastic, old shoes? Bring it On
To my surprise, the recycling station turned out to be quite user-friendly. The collection bins were clearly labelled and most had an English translation. A wide variety of recyclables are accepted, including paper, plastics, glass, tin, aluminum, used clothing and shoes! This is one place where you can leave empty-handed and feel satisfied about it.
Tips for Recycling:
- Rinse out bottles and containers as soon as you are done with themKeep the bottle caps – they can be recycled separately
- Carefully inspect food packaging for recycling symbols – you might be surprised at what you can recycle!
There is much progress needed in terms of accessibility to allow recycling to become less of a chore and more of a healthy habit. Although as minute as the recycling movement in Kyiv – and Ukraine as a whole – may seem, I see the presence of a community moving towards sustainability. Our efforts are but a tiny drop in the ocean, but they are something to take pride in. I’m glad to be a working part in this progressive movement.
Don’t leave your wallet at home. Here’s why:
Mindful products are available for purchase at the No Waste Ukraine facility. You can pick up a bamboo toothbrush, reusable water bottle, and reusable cotton or recycled polyester produce bags. And… if you did forget your wallet at home, you can order an array of products (some made in Ukraine) on their website.
No Waste Ukraine