"Green Library" event series in Tallinn

Tallinn Central Library organized a series of events to raise awareness on sustainability an to inspire members of the local community to reduce their ecological footprint. The series was called Roheline raamatukogu (in English ”Green Library”).

The first event of the series took place in Kadrioru branch library on the 16th of November and was called Children’s hour: what to do with old things? It was quite popular, having twelve participants, ten of whom were kids and two adults. People were very positive and thought that it was a great thing for a library to be active in this way and to oppose wasteful shopping culture. The librarians also enjoyed it very much.

Väike-Õismäe branch library organized a recycling workshop on the 23rd of November. Sixteen children and four adults participated in it.

An eco-packaging workshop took place in the Department of Literature in Foreign Languages of Tallinn Central Library on the 28th of November. The Russian-language event was led by Marina Datskovskaja, who is a talented handicraft specialist, a youth worker, and a teacher. A total of 26 teenagers and three adults participated in it.

The event started with a lecture about what is going on with our climate today and how each individual person is contributing to the rapid changes that have been taking place. It was followed by a discussion about the different ways our everyday decisions enlarge or reduce our personal or national ecological footprint. They also discussed how we must change our behavior as consumers and keep the Earth in mind when celebrating Christmas, birthdays, etc. Celebrations can be more mindful and less wasteful by utilizing what we already have and gifting self-made things instead of things that are newly bought.

The lecture was followed by a practical workshop. The materials used were, what many people have in their homes, unless they have already sent them to the landfills: toilet paper rolls, paper bags (from shops, takeaway places, etc.), strips of leftover Christmas wrapping paper from previous years, old fabric and yarn, reused printing paper, etc. A minimal amount of glue was used by only applying it to certain points on the paper and by using other techniques, like tying or folding, to keep the pieces in place. The end result was sweet-looking and personalized packaging that would make anyone happy to receive it.

29th of November was the Green Friday when most of the events took place.

A recycling workshop Let’s make Christmas lanterns! was organized at Laagna branch library. There were four adults and one baby participating. The group was rather small, because the workshop was held at noon when many people are at work or at school. However, those who came enjoyed the workshop very much and were further amused by the happy baby.  The young child also reminded them all, that our decisions today will have significant results for the next generations. The sooner we relearn everyday behaviour and make it less wasteful, the better chances our children and grandchildren will have.

There was music playing at the workshop and a lot of conversation, about climate change and other relevant issues, while their hands worked. One participant said: ”It wasn’t difficult to do this recycling arts and crafts project and the result is very beautiful.”


The photo was taken by the head librarian of the children’s and youth
service, Merle Tanilsoo.

In the Department of Literature in Estonian of Tallinn Central Library they organized the workshop the workshop Homes for bottles: making bottle collecting boxes for the library. There were seven children and one adult participating. The children liked the workshop so much that they didn’t want to leave when it was finished. They promised to continue with such projects at home and to tell their families about this possibility. All participants said, that they know how important it is to fight climate change and that this issue is close to their hearts.

Torupilli branch library organized a trash sorting/recycling game for kids. They had three kids participating, all of whom were active and eager participants in all activities. One of them was so excited that they stayed an hour longer, just to learn more. Hopefully, with such enthusiasm, these kids shall carry their newly acquired knowledge home, from where it will travel further into the community.

They talked about the concepts of reusing and sharing – a library is a perfect example here – and also the importance of sorting and recycling one’s waste. They learned how to live in a way that produces as little waste as possible and, if waste is produced, how to deal with it properly and in such a way, that it causes the least amount of damage to the environment. In order to learn these concepts, they played several games, where, based on previous clues, children had to find answers to various environment-related questions by looking into thematic library materials. The game worked kid of like a treasure hunt and knowledge is one heck of a treasure. They also played more active games by actually sorting trash at the library.

The librarian also told participants about her personal experience of learning to become an environmentally conscious person by, over time, taking bigger and bigger steps towards proper waste management in her own home. For example, she showed them locations in the city where it is possible to recycle most types of trash that people produce every day.

All around Tallinn there are collection points where people can bring every type of waste you can possibly imagine, which then gets recycled. Kuhu Viia (in English: Where to Take) is supported by the Ministry of the Environment. They recently published a web-map that people can use in order to find these locations. The map also includes instructions on what goes where and how to process it previously (plastic food containers must be rinsed clean etc). The map can beviewed here: kuhuviia.ee.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know that this is how proper recycling works or they cannot be bothered to do it. Usually, people only sort bio waste and paper waste (these containers are normally present in the yards of most homes) and put the rest in the general trash bin, which is a direct route to landfills and waterways (and from there to the sea and into the world oceans). We should all do our utmost to recycle the absolute maximum amount of waste we produce. If that means that we need to take a few extra steps by washing some of our waste and then taking it to acollection point, which can be a few hundred meters away from our house, then that is what we have to start seeing as the new, responsible normal. It should not be considered normal to dump ou dirty, mixed waste into one huge bin and then forgetting about it, as if it is not our problem anymore. One’s waste is one’s own responsibility.

A sewing workshop took place at Sõle branch library. Even though they didn’t have many people participating, it was very fruitful and interesting for those who came. Their instructor, the library volunteer Astrid, showed participants how to turn a second-hand sweater into a ruffled dress and how to make new sleeves for an old sweatshirt by using parts from an old and broken sweater. They also learned how to renew old jeans and how to patch up other broken clothing items. One of the participants had brought along a scarf that they had made out of old yarn leftovers. In the end, the participants felt very inspired to continue mending their old clothing instead of buying new things. And that is something we should all start doing. Our behavioral principle for the future should be to reduce, reuse, and repair. And once those avenues have been exhausted, we should finally recycle properly and to our maximum ability. We owe it to ourselves now, to the future generations tomorrow and to our home – the only planet we know of that is still, despite the damage we’ve already done, able to support life – mother Earth.

Text: Kristel Palk, Tallinn Central Library

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