How to be the greenest fellow in Tartu?

Being green in everyday life is no longer only a specialty for environmental enthusiasts, but also fashionable for you to try out. If you agree, you will find Tartu to be the best place to kick off this series of green-you-up campaigns!

Challenge 1: Build yourself a bike!

To mitigate the climate crisis, the second highest personal action is to live a car-free life (Wonder what the top one is? Have one less child, according to a study conducted by Lund University). Where to build this magical bike? TERT! It is the coolest community-based bike shop where you can build your own bike with the assistance of the amazing mechanics. They also welcome hands just to repair bikes! By the way, they rent bikes, too! You can buy one and return it when you no longer use it. There is another option online where they also sell second-hand bicycles. 

If it’s broken, fix it!

Challenge 2: Participate in one Fridays for Future Eesti climate strike!

It’s no mistake: Students in Tartu hold strikes for the climate! Tartu is one of the few cities in the Baltic States that first stood up for climate justice. You’re invited to bring your buddies and raise your voices for the climate! Come to Town Hall Square and get inspired. 

Tartu climate strike on 15 March 2019
The Tartu climate strike on 15 March 2019 gathered a lot of youth. Image credit: Asia Bartonowicz

Challenge 3: Try out the trendy “zero waste” lifestyle!

ZERO waste! How is it possible?! You don’t have to start out all set and feel defeated because you always produce daily waste. The idea of zero waste is to produce as little waste as possible, especially single-use plastics! Tartu also has this amazing “Zero Waste Tartu” group to help you get started! 

Challenge 4: Repair, no litter!

“Don’t throw it away. The Earth will thank you for that.” The idea of repairing is not only limited to clothes. Items from speakers to bicycles are also all possible to repair at this amazing repairs cafe, Paranduskohvik! F.Y.I, all the repairers here are happy to help you out and speak English! Ever wonder how to use a sewing machine? Hit them up!

Challenge 5: Go for a trash hike or a river cleanup!

The most exciting and simplest way to act green is to pick up trash! Prügimatk (trash hike) organized by Keskkonnanädal is coming, as is the Emajõgi cleanup, organized by Matkasõbrad Ah ja Oh, which happens every year on World Cleanup Day or the “Let’s do it!” campaign in September. Stay tuned!

This is the Emãjögi cleanup team from 2019.
This is the Emãjögi cleanup team from 2018. Image credit: Valdeko Lukken

Challenge 6: Participate in the Green Week!

The green week is hosted at the Estonian University of Life Sciences by EMÜ Keskkonnakaitse Üliõpilaste Selts / EMU student Organization for Environmental Protection, where you even have a fancy chance to take a visit to the Tartu water or waste recycling stations. In addition, everyone enjoys watching documentaries. It is hard not to admit that environmental films are the most striking! Want to know more about green life hacks?! Come see films like Before the Flood and Cowspiracy that might leave you speechless and make you reconsider your life choices! Later, you can suggest these new life hacks to your friends and increase the number of “green people” that we need on this beautiful planet 🙂 

Challenge 7: Save the frogs!

Every springtime there are uncountable numbers of frogs migrating all over Estonia. Tartu is also on the list. Starting at Ihaste, there’s a group of active frog rescuers who are determined to save the little green buddies from the road killers. It’s coordinated by Eestimaa Looduse Fond / Estonian Fund for Nature. The nearest rescue takes place a 15-minute bus ride from the center in Ihaste, normally organized by Ihaste Community in April.

Saving the frogs in the dark.
Saving the frogs in the dark. Image credit: Wanyi Ji

Challenge 8: Go vegan!

It is super easy to be vegan in Tartu, as we have the great GenGöök and Jah, see on vegan! group where you can learn a lot! Or just eat more plants and fewer animals.

Challenge 9: Go dumpster-diving and buy local, unpacked food!

After seeing how much food is thrown away, you really don’t want to support this sick system. Plus, every Wednesday you can visit Toidukogukond Juurikas for local eco-food. You also can visit Tartu Turg near Tartu Kaubamaja for local and unpacked food and Taluturg in Lõunakeskus.

Challenge 10: Take part in Elav Tartu!

They are part of the transition town movement, and by participating you also make the change happen. International volunteers are very welcomed.

Challenge 11: Go thrift shopping!

Uuskasutuskeskus might be difficult to pronounce, but the choice of things is amazing and there are many hidden treasures (basement thrift shops). Try to catch them all!

Challenge 12: Take your own cup!

You can use a thermo cup to buy coffee. It will stay warm, will not spill, and you don’t need to find a trash bin. Plus, you can make coffee at home, which means for the same price you get almost 50 cups of coffee. It is 2 euros per day for coffee vs. 5 euros per month.

To be continued… Write your own green-you-up tips!

This story was written by Wanyi Ji, an exchange student at the University of Tartu between 2018–2019, and co-edited by Kaia Solnik, a biology major with a folkloric studies minor at UT.

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