Geografie 2022, 127, 55-73

Grey greening: quiet sustainability at auto salvage yards

Pavel Mašek1,2,3ID

1Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Ethnology, Prague, Czechia
2Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany
3University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, Department of Anthropology, Pilsen, Czechia

Received October 2021
Accepted January 2022

Building upon my long-term ethnographic research at an auto salvage yard in Central Bohemia, I attempt to reveal through the lens of the ‘quiet sustainability’ concept that ‘greening’ can also be achieved quietly by the grey economy of breaking cars. The case of auto salvage yards shows that sustainability rises even through the yearning for profit. At auto salvage yards, economic meets eco-logic. Therefore, the unintentional sustainability reached by breakers opens space for debate on sustainability reached through the profit motive. While quiet practices leading towards sustainability might not lead to large-scale environmental or social changes, reaching sustainability through profitable practices seems to be a much more appealing way for many, with considerably larger pro-environmental consequences. Hence, these practices could provide inspiration for strategies towards a more sustainable society.


The research on which this paper is based was funded by the Czech Science Foundation under grant GA20−06759S, and by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology under V4Net doctoral scholarship.


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