2. 7. 2021

‘Greening through the grey: Quiet sustainability at auto salvage yards’ presentation at EUGEO 21 conference

Pavel presented a paper at the 8th EUGEO congress on the geography of Europe, Prague, June 28 – July 1, 2021. The panel entitled Towards the Hopeful Anthropocene – Sustainability Experimenting from the Margins was organized by Petr Jehlička, Petr Daněk, Jan Vávra, and Miloslav Lapka. 

Greening through the grey: Quiet sustainability at auto salvage yards

Pavel Mašek

In recent debates on environmentally responsive behavior, one can follow mostly two opposite points of view:
on the one hand, the awareness sustained ‘from above’ in the form of environmental policy and legislation; on
the other hand, the grassroots movements approaching this issue ‘from bellow.’ In either case, since these
debates and arguments are heard and dominate both the public and academic discourses, one might miss
another kind of environmentally responsive behavior: ‘quiet sustainability’ (Smith, Kostelecký, Jehlička 2015),
which is found in everyday human practices rather than generated by policies or communication campaigns.
Although these practices do not, in fact, try to achieve sustainability, they have positive environmental impacts.
Auto salvage yards might be considered as places that ‘ecologically discard’ unwanted and useless things – cars.
Nonetheless, the sustainability and environmentally responsive behavior do not consist in the disposal but rather
in reusing spare parts and repairing the seemingly totaled vehicles. Building upon my ethnographic research at
an auto salvage yard in Central Bohemia, I attempt to reveal that ‘greening’ can be done quietly through the grey
informal economy of breaking cars, even though as an unintended consequence of yearning for profit.