We Need More Recycling Heroes – Interview with Inna Zakharova

July is a month of global plastic-free movement. On this occasion, Inna Zakharova, UI/UX Designer at Daxx Kyiv and a recycling enthusiast, told us why and how she started sorting waste at home. Keep reading to learn more!

recycling - Inna

1. When and why did you start sorting waste? 

About six months ago, I stumbled upon two cardboard boxes in my entrance hall: for scrap paper and plastic. What a pleasant surprise! Shortly after that, I started collecting paper bags, packages, and promo leaflets and dropped them in here. I went down by elevator and here they were — two sorting boxes. That is so handy! I didn’t have to collect garbage for a long time. If I had three slips of paper, I put them in the pocket, drop them in the box, and went to the store. I could do that every single day. No kidding! 

Then I began to sort plastic bottles. I drank a bottle of water and flattened it. I did pretty much the same with paper. Going out? You guessed it right! I took bottles with me and put them in the box with plastic. My hands are free now! 

How did I go to the next level? I noticed sorting bins near the Metro shopping center one day. That’s why I started having packages for aluminum, tetra pack, and glass at home. Now when I go shopping at Metro, I take three packages of sorted waste with me once a week. 

In hindsight, I think the first step on my way to recycling was the availability of sorting boxes in my building 24/7 and the simplicity of the process. I could collect garbage today and throw it away tomorrow. As simple as that.   

2. How do you sort garbage at home? What does it look like? 

I have five paper bags for different kinds of waste. (Now I have enough of them as food delivery has been thriving during the quarantine). As I mentioned before, they are for paper, plastic, glass, tetra pack, and aluminum. Like all other people, I have a trash bin, too. Here goes all the garbage that doesn’t fall into these 5 categories.

A little bit more about how I sort waste: 

  • If I find promo leaflets in the mailbox — I put them in the bag for scrap paper.
  • If I drink a bottle of water — I remove a cap, flatten a bottle (rinse it if needed), and put a dry bottle in the bag for plastics. 
  • If I drink a package of juice — I rinse it, flatten it, and put a dry package in the bag for tetra pack.
  • If I drink coke in an aluminum can — I rinse it, flatten it, and put a dry can in the appropriate bag.
  • If I drink a bottle of wine — I rinse it and put a dry bottle in the bag for glass. (I don’t throw a bottle of oil in the same bag).

Next step — I leave scrap paper and plastic in boxes in my entrance hall. As for aluminum, glass, and tetra pack, I take it all to Metro once a week, when I do shopping. That’s it. The cycle starts again! 🙂

Recycling - plastic and tetra pack flattening
Plastic bottle and tetra pack flattening for recycling.
recycling - paper bags
5 sorting paper bags for different kinds of garbage.

3. What challenges did you face when sorting waste? 

With the level of sorting that I have now, everything is pretty easy. For starters, I carefully read the info on sorting bins — what kind of glass I can drop in them and that it’s forbidden to throw light bulbs. It’s important to stick to instructions. Let’s say if a particular sorting bin is for scrap paper, paper boxes, or packages only — no napkins and checks should be thrown there. Period.   

I’d suggest having QR-codes on bins. You can’t place all sorting rules on them despite their big size. But we are curious to know more, right? 

The most difficult task is to find out what to do with old light bulbs. You can deliver them to the sorting station by yourself as you can’t toss them into the trash with other glass. Daxxers can bring used light bulbs to the office for further proper disposal. 

4. Daxx also cares about nature. Did you bring used batteries or light bulbs to the office? 

For sure, I saw containers near the reception. I’ve already started collecting old batteries and then boom! — the quarantine began. But I’ll definitely do it later. 

5. What are your tips for those who want to start sorting garbage? 

1. Go explore your neighborhood.
Check if there are any sorting bins or stations nearby. If there are any instructions on how to use them, read them in advance. 

2. “That’s one small step for a man, but a giant leap for mankind.” 

Start small. Pick one category of waste — paper or plastic. Boxes without greasy stains, packages, promo leaflets, empty transparent plastic bottles without caps (rinse them if needed) — this is just a shortlist of items that you can toss into any sorting bin nearby. 

3. This world needs new superheroes. 

The next step is to scale. Add more categories — tetra pack, glass, and aluminum. Educate yourself on different types of labeling and sorting rules. For example, here you can find a clear manual, photos of items that can be processed at the station, and labeling worth considering.  

To sum up, do this — start small and then go into detail. The key thing is to know what exactly you can toss into the container and what you can’t, and how to properly prepare your waste for recycling. 

P.S. If someone knows where I can drop a car windshield for recycling in Kyiv, please let me know. By now, it’s a total mystery to me. 🙂

Many thanks to Inna for sharing with us her real-life experience in sorting and recycling, conscious attitude towards nature, and eco-friendly tips to follow.

Together we can make a difference!

Want to learn more about Daxxers? Read an interview with Denys Tsuman on remote work here.

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