The Zelyony Dom (Green House) Eco-Center opened in Voronezh at 46 Lvovskaya Street on Sunday, August 9. The center will become a platform for environmental education, separate waste collection, exchange of clothes and books. The Green House was opened by the Voronezh eco-activists: the creator of the eco-taxi and the coordinator of the EcoDvor project Katerina Khomich, Greenpeace volunteer Arina Novichikhina, and the organizer of the GoGreen healthy lifestyle festival and veggie market Yulia Popova.

The Green House is a space of 100 square meters on the first floor of a residential building in a private housing sector. In front of the entrance to the eco-center, tanks were placed for the collection of recyclable materials: glass, waste paper, plastic bags, cans, and plastic containers.

Inside, there are hangers with clothes: this is where swapping – the exchange of unnecessary things – will take place. You can bring any clothes and shoes to the eco-center, regardless of gender, size, and seasonality. All clothes in good condition will be sold at the eco-center for a nominal fee.

‘For example, you bring us ten things. Three of them are in poor condition - they will be sent for processing. And those seven that are in good condition, we keep. We give you a coupon for seven things, which means that you can take seven things from us for 100 rubles in return. That is, the coupon entitles you to a discount. Without the coupons, things will be more expensive,’ explained Arina Novichikhina.

This exchange system was invented to keep out lovers of free stuff from the center./p>

‘When we arranged one-day swaps previously, strange-looking men and women with huge checkered shopping bags often came there, loaded kilos of things into them, and carried them away in an unknown direction. We want the swapping to attract people who know what responsible consumption is and not those who just need free things,’ Katerina Khomich noted.

It is the swapping that will become the basis of the eco-center's activities - the girls expect to cover the rent with the income from it. According to Yulia Popova, at the first stage, it was important for the activists to find not very expensive premises since the funds for the first month of rent were collected by donations. The remoteness of the Green House from the city center is not a problem because this area has good transport accessibility, according to the creators of the eco-center.

‘We were very lucky with the owner of the premises. He studied the project, looked us up on social media, and became imbued with our ideas. He said that we were doing a good thing, allowed us to repaint the walls, and not pay the utility bills for the first month. This is an incredible help! Of course, we are not counting on any "red line" anyway, but I think we will outgrow this premise pretty quickly. We have already received such a volume of clothes for swapping that only half of it fit on the hangers,’ said Yulia Popova.

In addition to clothes, you can exchange books at the eco-center. Already on the first day of work, all four racks of the Green House were packed tightly. A special place was taken by books on ecology, waste management, reasonable consumption, and a healthy lifestyle. But the center is ready to accept any books - both fiction and non-fiction. Any books here can be taken forever in exchange for your own or borrowed for a while for reading, like in a library./p>

The walls of the eco-center were decorated with collages of the Voronezh artist Olga Volna from her Odnorazovay Lyudi (Disposable People) series. All the works were created from recycled materials – the elements of portraits of people are cut out of old magazines and pasted on different types of packaging not suitable for recycling: the ‘canvas’ for one work was a pack of chips, for another - bubble wrap, for the third – a TetraPak package.

A small corner in the eco-center is occupied by a market of healthy food products from Voronezh producers. Here you can buy sugar-free sweets, dried fruit, nut butters, flour from various types of cereals, and other goods.

‘We have been cooperating with the Voronezh producers of healthy lifestyle products for a long time and wanted to support them. This theme goes well with the activities of the eco-center. Unfortunately, most manufacturers pack their products in non-recyclable packaging. Other packaging types are still really difficult to find in Voronezh. I even personally know many people who do not buy various healthy products because they are packed in ‘trash’. But we hope that the opening of the eco-center will contribute to the development and solution of this issue,’ noted Yulia Popova.

The Green House is planning to hold a variety of environmental education events. On the opening day, lectures were held here on the separate collection of waste at home, on the de-cluttering of space, on the selection of wardrobe for a long time. The eco-center's lecture area can accommodate about 20 people.

The Green House will be open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00. The admission is free. The current schedule of events can be clarified on its social media web-page.