ESG GAZETA explores projects created and implemented in Russia
Green film: russia’s first carbon-neutral film is almost ready
White Steamboat directed by I. Shepeleva, MIMESIS Productions
Yakut film industry, recently referred to as a cultural phenomenon, a new Yakut wave, and a miracle of filmmaking, continues to set trends in the national cinematography. Russia’s first carbon-neutral film will be released in 2023. The feature film is the directorial debut of Inga Shepeleva, a graduate of the Literature Institute and the Moscow Film School, daughter of a Yakut scientist with a Ph.D. in geology and mineralogy.
“The idea for the project came to me and producer Yanna Buryak at the same time. It was important for us to film in Yakutia, my homeland. Ever since I was a child, I was taught to treat nature with respect: when you go to the forest to pick mushrooms or berries, you have to leave something for the spirits in the forest to thank them for what the forest gives you,” says Inga Shepeleva. “Also, it seemed wrong to me to make a film about the delicate relationship between northern man and nature, while leaving waste behind, polluting the air, recklessly wasting resources.”
Maria Chubarova, the founder of Sister Mary, helped to implement the idea and acted as the project’s eco-supervisor. It was decided to introduce a waste sorting system, develop energy saving rules, and organize eco education activities. The film crew also pledged to plant trees in Yakutia that, over their lifetime, will absorb at least as much carbon as all the project’s emissions, including transportation and household emissions.
To calculate the total carbon footprint of the project, special carbon calculators for film industry — Albert from the UK and EcoProd from France—were used.
“Carbon neutrality is a standard for the Western film industry,” says Maria Chubarova. “In Germany, for example, you will not even be eligible for a filming subsidy if you do not have a certified eco-supervisor involved in the project. In the United States, there is an award called the EMA Award and its Green Seal, which is awarded for sustainable film production. In 2022, the award went to James Cameron’s Avatar: The Path of Water.”
The White Steamboat team hopes that this experiment of creating Russia’s first carbon neutral film will encourage the Russian film industry to move towards a more sustainable approach.
Social project to reboot the brand
Murmurizm, a casual wear brand
Last December, casual wear brand Murmurizm released its collection called “Love Kiss Hug”. It was meant to be a farewell collection: at the time, the founder of the company, Timur Abdullayev, was ready to close the project. The jem of the collection were sweaters and vests handmade by grandmothers, wards of the social project Vnukunuk.
“I have known Lena Plavova, the creator of Vnukunuk, for a long time. I saw the items knitted by the grandmothers and I was delighted with the project. So it was not a difficult decision,” says Timur. “Three ladies worked on the collection. They made a few items, and the demand far exceeded the supply. People loved both the design and the idea, so we started taking pre-orders. And we were approached by people from boarding facilities, social centers, mental health clinics, they all wanted to join the project.”
As a result of this collaboration, it was decided to relaunch the brand and abandon factory production. Now, Murmurizm will develop as a social enterprise aimed at creating jobs for pensioners, single moms, people with mental disorders, and people with disabilities.
In this project, Elena is responsible for communication with social institutions. Timur is in charge of development and promotion. Now twelve craftswomen from different regions of the country are involved in the project. Yarn, consumables, knitting patterns are delivered to ladies by couriers, who also pick up the finished items. A crowdfunding campaign was launched at Planeta.ru to buy all the necessary materials.
Often, the craftswomen come up with the design themselves, and they are very good at it. “Granny sweater is a popular term that means something well-made but unfashionable. We want to change that perception, and I think we are succeeding. Our mission is to make trendy, handmade things that people will want to wear. At the same time, each of our customers realizes that they are supporting those who create this beauty and are struggling to find work due to life’s difficulties,” says Timur.
The new collection, he says, will include panama hats and tops made of high-quality, breathable cotton that can be worn even in the warm season. And the plan for 2023 is to expand the team to fifty craftswomen.
From a social media community to a donation infrastructure project
DonorSearch, a community of blood donors
In 2022, DonorSearch became the winner of the ESG Awards Russia in the category “Social”. Today it is a real Russian “guide to the world of donation” with a library of relevant knowledge, bonuses for donors from the project partners, advice and recommendations related to the requirements of specific institutions for blood donations, and its own merchandise.
The project started in 2010 with a small VKontakte community of volunteers and a website for finding blood donors. In twelve years, DonorSearch has become an infrastructure project and has gained the support of businesses, including both large corporations and small local restaurant chains and online stores. In total, the project has about two dozen business partners, it unites about two hundred donors across the country.
“We developed consistently: at first, we focused only on caring people who were ready to donate blood if asked. Then we expanded our focus to include active and novice donors in a community format. Then we created a service for organizers of donor events and their support. And finally, we moved into systematic corporate outreach. Today we are running a large-scale project aimed at involving people in blood donation, supporting regular donors, and solving these tasks with the help of businesses,” says Ruslan Shekurov, the founder of the project.
Our first partnerships were a “kitchen-table effort”, born out of the idea that it would be good to reward donors. We recruited a regional chain of entertainment centers called Constellation of Entertainment and a foreign language learning platform called Lingualeo. The former provided movie and bowling tickets, while the latter provided access to educational materials.
“In the 2020 pandemic year, we faced the problem that, on the one hand, donors had to comply with the self-isolation policy, and on the other hand, the needs of medical institutions did not just go away. Together with taxi service providers, we distributed twenty-five thousand free ride codes for rides to and from blood centers. The collaboration was also beneficial to the taxi operators, who were trying to figure out how to retain their drivers. The result was a mutually beneficial project,” Ruslan recalls.
Around the same time, the bonus program was relaunched and systematic work with partner companies began. For businesses, DonorSearch acts as a hub for organizing corporate donor programs. “We have the expertise, and companies have the need for support. We provide advice, give lectures before or after events, explain how to prepare for a blood donation, what types of donations there are, what is the current situation with donations in Russia, answer employees’ questions, etc.,” explains the project founder.
“Mutual benefit for the project and its corporate partners is at the heart of DonorSearch,” Ruslan emphasizes.
For companies, supporting donation initiatives can be a PR tool that allows donors to learn more about the brand that supports the initiative. And corporate donor campaigns are great team-building activities that allow people from different departments to see each other not just as colleagues, but as people who share similar beliefs, perhaps even the same blood type, both literally and figuratively.