Belarusian student opens free shop in Czech Republic


Shelves of free shop in Olomouc. Photo from the archive of Stsyapan Vashkevich

Stsyapan Vashkevich together with friends from the University in Olomouc, opened a free shop to make the university more environmentally friendly place.

The idea to open the Freeshop UP shop came to him near the hostel trash bin, Stsyapan Vashkevich told journalists. The young man saw there things that could still be used by someone. At his university, many students accumulate things during their studies, which they cannot then take with them. Thanks to the free shop, things receive new owners.

Six months have passed from the idea of ​​creating a store to its realization. The dormitory administration provided the room where the workshop used to be. Employees of the hostel made repairs, and the store team decorated it. The initiative became part of the student initiative “Udržitelný Palacký”, whose goal is to transform the university into an environmentally sustainable, socially fair and economically efficient place.

The principle is simple: give away what you don’t need but what can serve others.

The shop is open for several hours 3-4 days a week.

You can bring things to the store during business hours. They are immediately sorted and the person receives something that does not fit into the concept of the store. Stsyapan says that not everyone understands that if a thing has already lost its function, it becomes garbage that others cannot use.

Bags from Kamarouka

Sometimes the store has open days (then it works all day, part of the product range is exhibited on the street), it holds classes on eco lifestyle and master classes on how to make powder from soda and soap, repair old clothes or pack gifts in an environmentally friendly way.

Next to the hostel, students created a vegetable garden.

The hostel leadership supported the initiative with public gardens, and the concierge who studies landscape design helped with advice

Photo from the archive of Stsyapan Vashkevich.

Environmental protection was important for Stsyapan already in his teenage years.

“I fought with plastic bags at the Kamarouka market, and sometimes I was rewarded with things you can’t buy without plastic in the Czech Republic — with excellent cottage cheese, spices and nuts. In Belarus, there is an opportunity to be an eco-friendly consumer, but for that you need courage. And character!” said Stsyapan. Opportunities may seem limited, but they provoke us to be creative and use our initiative.

According to Stsyapan, the economy can be waste-free, and people can significantly reduce the amount of harm done to the environment.

“You just need to buy less and give each other the opportunity to use things that have already been bought. Both consumers and producers can live according to this scheme, but for this we need to re-shape our attitude to everything common and social,” said Stsyapan.

There are about 70 eco-friendly stores in the Czech Republic, the range of which – mainly Czech or Slovak production – is sold without packaging.

Yuliya Syamenchanka

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