Alyona Sergeyeva: Volunteers’ Diaries. Part 2

1 february 2022

Volunteer Alyona Sergeyeva is on a mission to teach children and adolescents how to be environmentally aware. Alyona is a Chief Specialist at the Regional Center of SiburTyumenGas and an Ambassador of the Formula for Good Deeds, SIBUR's social investment program. For several months now she has been busy implementing her proprietary program of eco-workshops she has been running out of a social shelter. During this time Alyona and her team have accomplished a lot. You will find a detailed account of what they have done so far and whether the children liked these workshops in the second part of the "Volunteer Diaries" project (Note: Part One of the diary is available at this link).

The project's highlights

Eco-Workshops is a series of six topic-based classes for the children living in the social housing shelter that is home to children in distress. Some children live there temporarily and so it is impossible to ensure that they will be able to attend all the classes. To make sure that they take something home after each meeting, we have tried to squeeze in as much important information as possible and vary the way we present it so it is not boring for the children. What makes the task ever more daunting is the fact that the children and teenagers participating in the project at the same time represent a broad spread of age groups: currently, the shelter houses children aged 4 to 16. So far, we have been successful with keeping both the youngest and the oldest participants interested and engaged, and so the project has been a success.

Launch of Eco-Workshops. The Eco Class

The first eco-workshop was held in the format of a class that we tried to turn into a lively conversation. And that turned out to be a wise choice! As the topic of environmental protection is a popular theme today, the children came to the class somewhat prepared but we still tried to surprise them with some non-trivial facts. We took them through the history of waste management explaining to them that during the last millennium, waste had not always been removed from cities even causing severe epidemics as a consequence. Together we discussed the fact that although mankind has made serious advances in handling and managing waste, we still need to put in place a circular system of recycling in order to preserve our planet. Next, we examined plastic bottles looking for labels indicating the types of plastic they are made of, and explained how many times they can be recycled. They were surprised to see real pellets of recycled plastics generated at production facilities and items made out of recycled materials, such as clothes made from bottles. The younger kids especially enjoyed learning through their physical contact with the materials by touching and feeling them. At the end of the class, we left the children with three containers for collecting caps, for other types of plastics, and for paper. We made an agreement that the children would either be able to take their recyclables to a collection point or we would pick them up ourselves and take them to a recycling center.

Master Class: Making Pot Holders Out of Used Bottles

Our second meeting convinced us that the project that we had started was not initiated for nothing: many children remembered our first class and readily answered our questions about the kinds of labels that can be found on plastic packaging and how plastics can be recycled. This time we didn't talk just about recycling, we discussed waste reduction in general. One way to accomplish this goal is by reusing items. The class was organized as a master class and we practiced giving a second lease of life to seemingly useless objects such as plastic bottles that the children converted into planting pot holders and planted plants in them.

Field trip

Initially, the tour of the Metallobaza facility had been scheduled as the very last on our list of activities, but we were fortunate to be able to go there sooner. In addition to our team, the children were escorted by their teacher, the shelter’s director, and a counsellor. The facility specializes in making interesting and useful items out of recyclable materials (in this case, metal), such as sculptures, benches, decorations for parks and gardens, and much more. They even held a mini contest for the children in guessing the purpose of some of the items they make. For example, a huge metal nut that we took for a lantern, turned out to be a bird feeder.


Preparations for our fourth encounter are still underway. It will take the form of an eco-game. As its basis, we will use a board game fully developed at SIBUR. The game will introduce its participants to the laws governing the way ecosystems operate. Right this moment the team is busy adapting the game to the ages of the children from the social shelter. Incidentally, this is not the first product of the company that is going to be used in our project: at our first eco-class we used a special eco-case by SIBUR containing various recyclable products to illustrate the complex processes of plastics recycling. We found some exciting facts about the environment on the company's website at http://втораяжизньпластика.рф, and used them to prepare for our classes. We will add to the SIBUR eco-game some popular playground games where we will be replacing sports equipment with recyclable materials. The children might find this use of objects somewhat unusual, making this game quite a memorable experience for them. Our future plans include holding two more environmental workshops. This time we will create a newsletter on the topic of environmental protection and will build bird and squirrel feeders.