12 September 2017, 14:34
71617 |

Plastic-EVN vs. Eco-EVN: Which Side Are You?

Everywhere you turn in Yerevan there are heaps of trash on the streets. It's time we start taking care of our city and join the movement #plasticstorming

When I’m walking down the wide streets of Yerevan I can easily find something beautiful from the scenery surrounding me. The mountainous views, the architecture of the buildings, and the fashionably dressed people are just some of the things I notice on my daily commute. As I go about my day, it also becomes difficult not to notice the heaps of trash in every corner and the plastic bottles stuffed into the holes of the trees. At first I thought it was just the neighborhood I lived in, but I am beginning to realize that most of Yerevan, if not most of Armenia, is like this. While there are many aspects of Yerevan I find aesthetically charming, it seems as though many of the people that live here do not see the importance in preserving that beauty.

Pollution in general is certainly a global issue, but Armenia is far behind in its endeavors to overcome this problem. In general the public is not very educated on environmental issues, and the organizations that are currently available to provide this education are fairly new or do not get enough funding to fully actualize their goals. The people of Armenia have become accustomed to living a certain way, and a lack of social awareness means people will continue to do things the way they are used to until it becomes trained in their minds to do differently.

I’ve seen Armenian families hoarding plastic bags to carry their lunches, their trash, and even their clothes. I’ve heard stories of people getting laughed at by the cashier when they bring a reusable bag to the grocery store. I often struggle to find a trash can on the streets, and I have yet to see any recycling bins. I’ve found myself stepping over piles of trash and cigarette butts just to enter a building. I have even gotten curious stares from locals when they see me refilling my reusable water bottle from the “pulpulaks”. I’ve only been in Armenia for 2 weeks and these are all experiences I’ve encountered or stories I’ve heard.

The use of plastic bags and the choice to litter is not only convenient for many, but it seems to also be a luxury of some sort. It makes sense if you think about it. Back in the early 90s during the energy crisis the people of Armenia were struggling to access electricity, food and water. After independence, Yerevan went from being a bustling intellectual metropolis to a dark and decaying disaster. Once the country began to rise again and the people had their needs met, anything extra would be considered a valuable possession. Something like plastic bags that you get for free just for shopping to feed your family seemed like an added bonus. It probably aso made people’s lives easier- and after years of struggle- who wouldn’t want an easier life?

This idea to focus on environmental causes is still fairly new to Armenia- these movements can take years to take effect and to become present in the minds of those who have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. If we want to make Yerevan the city we all imagine, we have to work towards keeping it clean. Change takes time, and from what I know Armenians can be very stubborn. That just means we need to work a little harder to resist the social pressure to get where we want to be. It only takes a few small changes in lifestyle to see lasting effects.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can join our initiative “Plastic Storming,” which is working towards educating the public on the harmful effects of using plastic bags - and in turn is offering two different kinds of “eco” friendly bags.

Our eco string bags come in many colors and can be used for groceries or a fashionable addition to your outfit. Our eco bags are lightweight and convenient and come in a large variety of colors for you to choose. They can fold up into the size of an envelope so you can take them anywhere with you easily. They also take only 3-4 years to decompose (which is 400 years less than plastic bags). They say it only takes 21 days to form a new habit so save Yerevan and join the #plasticstorming!

 

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