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Rethinking Assumptions: Roman Sablin and Russian Eco-Consciousness

Written by Zoe Weil | Published on November 5, 2012 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2012/11/05/rethinking-assumptions-roman-sablin-and-russian-eco-consciousness/
Screenshot copyright Sustainable Ukraine.

I was in Krasnodar, Russia, this summer for a couple of days. As a foreign traveler, I was advised to drink bottled water, but it was frustrating to have to throw the bottles in the trash because I couldn’t find any place to recycle them. I was disappointed in the apparent lack of concern for the environment. So I was surprised to read an article on Roman Sablin in the Aeroflot magazine on the Russian airline on my way home.

In all my years of traveling on U.S. airlines, I’ve never read such an in-depth article on eco-consciousness. Roman Sablin is a philologist and artist who grew disturbed by the waste he and his friends were generating and launched an eco movement that would rival the most committed environmentalist anywhere in the world. He went beyond replacing his light bulbs and began shaving his hair to reduce water consumption when showering and became a vegetarian (in a country where vegetarianism is quite uncommon). He leads eco-seminars and has become “something of a celebrity” according to the profile. In fact, all the Russian TV stations have been to his eco-loft, as have the major newspapers and magazines.

Reading the article reminded me that things are sometimes not as they seem. Movements take different trajectories in different countries. Certain norms – like ubiquitous recycling bins in the U.S. – may mask a complacency, while a lack of such norms may potentially spur a more rapid, inventive movement.

While I don’t know how a restorative, healthy, and sustainable world will unfold; where it will take root most deeply and spread; or whose ideas will generate the largest shifts in systems, consciousness, and actions, it was good to see my own assumptions challenged by Aeroflot’s profile of Roman Sablin.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: “Solutionaries”
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach
My TEDxYouth@BFS “Educating for Freedom”

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