Sustainability StarMonthly Highlights

Sustainability Star of the Month – Maria Talakina

3 Mins read
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Tell us about yourself 

I’m Maria, I’m 31 and I got relocated to the Middle East in 2019 from Moscow, Russia. I lived in a few cities across Europe but I have never been to the Middle East prior to relocating to my new job here. I work in market research, specifically in sports and entertainment. Everyone is thinking that I’m constantly attending some cool events and hanging out with athletes, but the reality is that I’m sitting on my couch (hi COVID!) and working on questionnaires, analyzing all sorts of data and consult clients about loads of things that do not always relate to a sport event.

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Either way, I love my job and I do get to go out and attend some cool events from time to time! I am also a regional lead for Nielsen Green, it’s a corporate initiative that is aimed to promote consciousness about the way we work, consume and waste. This is part of our company’s social responsibility program but also a part of myself who is on the journey to become more conscious and want to help others do the same.

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What motivated you to shift to being eco-friendly? 

From my early childhood, my mom taught me to treat everything and everyone with care. When I was an angry 3 year old, I used to tear books apart, damage plant leaves and God knows what else my mom didn’t tell me all these years later. She used to say “don’t harm this plant, Maria, it feels the pain like you do”. I think it was only later on I realized what it really means when people say “don’t harm the planet”. I understand it now, it feels the pain like we do.

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The main things you do to be eco-friendly 

I try to sort my waste and recycle as much as possible. I significantly decreased the amount of water I consume through taking showers, washing my dishes, doing laundry or even making tea. I try to always choose durable alternatives to plastic or anything that is single-use, for example I always have my tote bags with me to carry groceries and most of the time I drink water from my reusable bottle or a cup. I also use eco-friendly home supplies, such as plant based cleaners and bamboo alternatives. I try to use recycled things too, like pulp kitchen towels. Same applies to feminine care, like period panties, cups, etc.

Your easiest eco -friendly swaps 

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The easiest swaps for me are reusable water bottles and tote bags that can fit into my pocket. And I’d say the third easiest was plant based eco-friendly chemicals. 

What makes it hard for you to be eco-friendly? 

It’s incredibly hard to find proper recycling stations that do not require you to travel long distances with recycling bags. I still don’t see it being a big part of culture, recycling things and treating the planet with care. There is so much plastic I have to take from all over that makes me feel bad about myself instead of being excited about my purchase. For example, if I order from a restaurant, I am most likely to get a bunch of plastic items with my order. My building used to have a recycling station on each floor but neighbors sadly used it as a general trash dump which killed the good cause.

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How do you plan on continuing your sustainability journey? What other aspects do you plan to change? 

My goal is to reduce the waste I am making as much as possible. I would like to find a way to deal with less plastic and recycle more.

For example, I now have an option to recycle my waste whenever I order a laundry service. Is it eco-friendly or not really? This is what I am still on a journey to learn. I would like to go down to the level of choosing predominantly local produce. My climate change pledge at Nielsen is to significantly decrease meat consumption and introduce more local produce into my diet. So this is what I am trying to stick to now, along with trying to decrease the amount of waste I am producing.

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