Zero Waste actions to achieve a sustainable future.

Hello, Roots Radicals community! 

This month we want to focus on one of the core principles of Roots Radicals: zero waste. From food to plastic packaging and fast fashion landfills, this global movement aims to reduce our actual waste footprint on the planet. According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, it is about “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health ”. In a nutshell zero waste is caring about the before and after of what we consume, so we stop polluting our natural ecosystems.

Sounds like a lot to digest right? Well, getting started is easier than it sounds and it’s always more fun to do it with a community. This is why we were so happy to invite Coral Ruz, founder of the Zero Waste Berlin Festival to our Rooted Lives #9. Originally from Spain, Coral found in Berlin a place to explore her strong enthusiasm for zero waste. But she didn’t want to go in this path alone, she wanted to exchange sustainability perspectives and expand climate change awareness with others. “I was looking for space to collectively discuss sustainability, and since I couldn’t find it, I created it!” shared Coral. 

What started as a meetup group in 2019, where she connected with a big international community, became later the Zero Waste Berlin Festival. Her commitment to making a collective impact was determinant to create this platform, which has reached more than 40000 people worldwide. “Although making conscious changes at home is the starting point for a zero-waste lifestyle, I felt that if I wanted to make a bigger impact I needed to connect with what others were doing. Berlin is very diverse and international, for me, it was important to create a space for an international community to connect and move towards a Green Transition.”

"Knowledge in community is power" Zero Waste Berlin Festival Edition 2019. Photo by ZWBF.

But what is Green Transition? It’s a term to talk about The European Green Deal, which ensures that a “transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens fairly, leaving no one behind.” This approach recognizes bottom-up initiatives and eco-enthusiasts as crucial parts of a renovated green and circular economy. Our green transition paths start when we recognize that there is a gap in between what is being done, and what could be done to make a positive impact. As Coral taught us, sharing her deep interest in recycling with a diverse group lead her to the expanded and holistic approach of the Zero Waste Berlin Festival.

“For us, Zero Waste is as much a circular sustainability movement as a systemic ecological approach. Zero Waste is more than just managing your trash, we need to think the origin of this is our actions as consumers and producers. Is crucial to take into account the CO2 impact of not only the trash but the production line. What is the ecological trace of our consumption? We can’t just focus on what we see in front of us, but what has happened before and after for these products to existing. Only then can we have a real idea of what is the impact of our daily actions as citizens or companies. This is what we’re trying to do in the festival, to track every scale of environmental impact and serve as a platform to show a diverse range of options and ideas that allows everyone to become zero waste.”

The UN – Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), proposes seventeen different approaches and communal fieldwork and are also guiding frameworks for the Zero Waste Berlin Festival, which focuses on achieving SDG 11 “Sustainable Cities and Development”, SDG 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”, SDG 13 “Climate Action” and SDG 17 “Partnerships for the goals”. Each of these goals are explored along with the seven categories of the Festival, which range from Green Cities to Self-care. In the relations between taking care of our bodies, our cities and our planet there are many common threads, but Coral mentioned that the one of Sustainable Food Systems is as powerful as it is joyful.

Part of the amazing Zero Waste Berlin Festival team with Coral Ruz (center left). Photo by ZWBF

“We introduce the Sustainable Food System category after the participation of amazing food circular projects in last year’s edition. We recognize that food is one of the things that we can all relate to and -since we all eat every day- one which we can have a tangible impact upon. Of course, it is a matter of affordability and culture, but because food is central to the gastronomic industry this is also an opportunity to re-learn how to eat more sustainably. This includes not only changing how you cook but how you do groceries: buying organic, limiting the purchase of plastic-packaged foods, going to a local or farmers market instead of a supermarket, etc. These small actions may sound obvious, but we’re not doing this frequently enough. We need to get better at understanding where our food is coming from, as well as being aware of the effort of the communities along the supply chain, like farmers. It may sound complex, but we depend so much on these people and ecosystems to eat, that we must keep on raising awareness.”

Roots Radicals circular kitchen aligns with the Sustainable Food Systems principles, as we believe is an urgent action to take inside our community. We aim to move from the idea of food waste to food by-products, which results in our beautiful saved-food preserves and upcycled spices. Also, in this blog space, we have dedicated each post to visualize how as consumers we have the power to impact the industrial systems. Whether it is food, fashion or technology these industries are constantly dealing with natural resources that should be mindfully accessed, heavy packaging which needs to reduce the use of plastic, and working communities that need to be treated fairly and paid rightfully. If we want to move into a more conscious consumption then we need to search for products or companies that are transparent about their process. Besides we could also inform ourselves about living zero-waste, by sharing experiences and perspectives among our community or asking the market/store/brand owners about the products we’re buying. 

Roots Radical zero-waste products. Photo by Becca Crawford

“Green transition could look like a talk between two persons who care about the environment. Knowledge is power, so by sharing what we know about zero waste -an as big or little experience you may have- we can increase our power to make a sustainable change. Starting from this idea, we don’t need to all walk the same path, but rather focus on what we’re interested in because that will be a more truthful and long-lasting change. We need to approach zero waste from different perspectives: the social, the environmental and, of course, the economic one. There are many ways, to begin with the green transition, and we can start by asking ourselves what little change I can implement by tomorrow?

Coral inspiring ideas will materialize this year during the Zero Waste three-day festival, where interdisciplinary groups of professionals and citizens will meet. The intention to present these challenging topics inside a festival is not random, for Coral people should understand that sustainability is practical and joyful. A festival is also a space for and with community, where all the ideas and questions around zero waste are welcome along with multiple events and round-talks. This exchange is both beneficial for consumers and companies who are thriving to adopt a more ecologically responsible lifestyle or production. In summary, a festival is an open space for sharing sustainability ideas and actions in the community.

“For me, it was clear that a Zero Waste Festival was needed to make the community of eco-enthusiasm bigger. A bigger space for this community to connect and to offer them the possibility to keep learning, to connect with mindful people and to get involved with other projects. But most importantly, this festival aims to empower this community. We want them to have the knowledge to make conscious decisions and share this with more people. With that in mind, we also think it is important to share the zero waste principles with professionals and companies from different industries. This festival wants to bring together multiple levels of experience around sustainability because all are equally important to achieve a Green Transition. That is our focus for this year’s edition of the Zero Waste Berlin Festival.”

This talk with Coral was certainly inspiring.. If you would like to join the festival make sure to get your tickets here. You can also take part in different workshops, talks, exhibitions and happenings with an amazing group of speakers, taking place from the 17th to the 19th of September. Roots Radicals will be there, with our co-founder Monica Kisic, taking part in a panel and giving a workshop on circular cooking. We want to keep sparking your curiosity around a zero-waste lifestyle, but more importantly that you realise the power to make a change is in the smallest of our actions. For this we want to share a shortlist of our favorite zero-waste initiatives from the Circular Berlin community.

  • Era Zero Waste: amazing local grocery store with sustainable packaging and organic products. They also have a sustainable delivery option, which use reusable shipping boxes.
  • Precious Plastic Berlin: for all the makers out there this is a fantastic space for design and production of objects with recycled plastic. They are part of the global network of Precious Plastic started by Dave Hakkens.
  • Frea:  A plant based restaurant in Berlin with a sustainable core, “Full Taste.Zero Waste”. They use 100% of all purchased food (regional and seasonal) and what can no longer be processed is composed and recycled by themselves. The co-founder David Suchy will be a speaker at the Zero Waste Berlin Festival.
  • Isla Coffee: created by chef, author and environmental activist Sophia Hoffman, this is a circular cafe concept. Sophia will be also part of the speakers at the Festival.
  • Circular Home Lab: experimental and creatively conscious, this team hosts workshops online to transform food waste into home products.
  • Querfeld: our dear partners in food-saving! They rescue “ugly” fruits and vegetables from local farmers and deliver them to restaurants, care centers or “curious kitchens” like ours.
  • Restlos Glücklich: community driven project that helds cooking workshops and educational events with rescued food.
  • Gebana: They are changing the rules of sustainable and fair food production, involving the consumer in each step. Also our dear partners, they provide the best ripped pineapples to the Roots Radicals’ circular kitchen.
  • CrowFarming: a great team of entrepreneurs aiming to shorten the food supply-chain between farmers and consumers.
  • Luxiders Magazine: through printed and online issues, they recount stories about sustainable fashion, eco design and healthy lifestyle. Besides they focus on promoting the work of conscious and independent designers.

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Responses

  1. Thank you Gabi for such a great post and Coral for participating in our Rooted Lives and being part of our community – can’t wait for the festival it was AMAZING last year!

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