Everyone can turn a deeper shade of green

This blog is dedicated to all those looking to deepen their green--whether you are making a commitment to a greener lifestyle and need help taking the first steps or whether you're already a practicing tree hugger who is looking for practical advice on what steps to take next. Over the years, I've heard all the good intentions and all the excuses. I've also seen my fellow environmentalists sabotage the good intentions of others. I am making a commitment to you, dear reader, wherever you fall on the spectrum, to help you take the next steps to fulfilling your commitment to the earth, to your health, and to your well-being. Stay tuned for articles and interviews.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Problems breed ingenuity--upcycling tires in Russia

I'm a fan of re-purposing items instead of/before recycling/landfilling them. As a follow-up to a post on solar-powered "fireflies," I've been wanting to share some of these photos from my trip this summer to Russia.

It's taken a bit of Sochi-bashing about all the problems with the Winter Olympics to finally motivate me. Why? Because some of the Sochi-bashing was framed as if Russians were failing in some way that was a reflection on their talent. I suspect that, just like in the Soviet Era, Russia bit off more than it could chew with building out for the Olympics. But Russians are used to shortages and less than ideal materials. The Russians I know are the most ingenious and creative up-cyclers out there. In a country with only about 110 growing days per year, families manage to grow enough food to feed themselves for most of the year. Many families use whatever they have to create growing spaces that protect seeds from the elements...I've adapted some of these upcycling practices into my own gardening.

But the photos I took this summer in the Lake Baikal region were upcycled tires. We've all seen planters and swings before:

Old Believers in Buriatia. Tire planter in background.
I noticed a few tire planters, like the one in the background, but I've seen these since I was a kid and was more impressed by what they did with bottle caps:

bottle cap art

bottle cap art

But I digress.

In the city of Ulan-Ude, day care centers have pretty limited budgets for creating play ground spaces. I've been impressed in the past with colored ice sculptures and small gardens. With more people driving cars, it makes sense that there are more used tires and more creative ideas for using them, like in this homemade playground equipment:

By far, my favorite up-cycled tire was at a temple in Ust-Orda. Every temple has a bowl for burning incense at it's entrance. This one.....well, just take a look:
incense bowl at Buddhist temple in Ust-Orda
Simple, functional, and ingenious solutions to everyday problems. I love stylish and elegant upcycling but simple and functional win it for me every time.

Relaxing at an Old Believer village in the Lake Baikal Region

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