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Meet our members – Zero Waste Kiel e.V.

Meet our members-Zero Waste Kiel e.V.

Zero Waste Europe is pleased to introduce the blog series "Meet Our Members". Through this series of monthly interviews, we hope to give you the opportunity to learn about our members and the work they do.

Hi Marc, can you give us a brief introduction to Kiel Zero Waste e.V.?

Hello, of course! Zero Waste Kiel e.V. was established in 2016 and has been a member of the European Zero Waste Network since 2017. Kiel is a German coastal city located on the Baltic Sea. In total, we have about 40 volunteers with different personalities and ages: career supporters, active activists, and experts with knowledge of waste management systems. The association meets twice a month to discuss upcoming and ongoing projects.

We promote the zero waste vision in many areas: lifestyle, cities, communities, architecture, hobbies, education, and businesses. We focus on reducing waste at the source and promoting waste-free alternatives and solutions. Our goal is to raise awareness of waste prevention practices and prove that zero waste does not mean depriving things, but means rethinking consumption patterns to have a positive impact on the environment, people's lives and society.

How long have you worked in this field and what caused you to fall into (zero) waste?

To me, waste is an environmental problem just like any other environmental problem. I really started to get involved when my wife Mary started her zero waste grocery project, which opened in 2014. Therefore, it should be blamed on Mary, who herself was inspired by Bea Johnson's book.

We also try to achieve a zero waste experience at home. Soon, this became a family affair that also involved children. In a short period of time, we can reduce a large proportion of household waste. The process is still going on gradually and will not become too strict (this is important). Thanks to this personal adventure and the bulk grocery store, our relationship with waste and resources has changed: it is no longer just a matter of throwing things in the trash can and making them disappear. We are aware of our waste: will it be recycled, burned, landfilled and shipped to the other side of the world? We have established new relationships with objects and resources: keep them for longer, fix them as much as possible, and take into account their entire life cycle. Together with a group of friends who have similar concerns, Zero Waste Kiel was born.

Before it becomes a technical problem, waste is a glitch in our society. Expert or not, anyone can solve the waste problem at their own level!

What is your current role in the organization?

Formally, I am the treasurer: mainly because no one wants to do this often ungrateful job! Fortunately, the Zero Waste Association and its projects can be managed with a lower budget...

My unofficial functions are multiple: I am responsible for communication and web pages, I support my wife’s role as "chairman", I supervise or accompany some of the association’s projects, and participate in working groups across the network, such as Zero Waste Europe’s Zero Waste Label.

Tell us more about an activity/event you are doing?

Well, I can tell you three main items:

Zero waste city

We inspire the City of Kiel to start its zero waste journey in 2018. Kiel has developed a climate plan, and the city government has cooperated with San Francisco, which is the world's first zero-waste city. Therefore, in 2018, we organized a conference with Zero Waste Europe called "Kiel 2019: A Milestone in the German ZW City".

The city government is currently drafting its zero waste concept with the Wuppertal Institute, and we expect to make a commitment in April 2020. We will continue to support them in this process, put forward ideas and learn from best practice cases.

Zero waste project coaching

Recently, in cooperation with the "Waterkant" festival team, an action was developed to implement a systematic approach to waste reduction. Waterkant is a grand event for start-ups and innovative projects in Schleswig-Holstein in our region. Thanks to the enthusiasm and willingness of the waterkant team, they are very committed to sustainable development, and this festival was a real success. Currently, we are in contact with other teams to repeat experience while improving our coaching skills internally.

"Zero Waste Shopping"

We created a label (see photo...) to give local food stores and markets the opportunity to promote their acceptance of customers’ containers. However, such an initiative is not unique to Germany, because the associations in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin use similar concepts. The project includes an overview of the prerequisites and procedures to be followed by the store, which have been accepted and verified by the health authorities. Already in Kiel, several stores are participating!

If you want your organization to be known for one thing, what would it be?

Throughout Germany, we call on other groups to join the Zero Waste Network, not only for German organizations but also as members of Zero Waste Europe. In this way, we can share a common definition of zero waste while benefiting from each other’s experiences in Germany and abroad.

It takes time to build a network, because each group focuses on its own projects and actions first, but we believe this will succeed: so far, 7 groups have participated in the plan.

How would you describe the development of the zero waste movement in your country?

Let's hold on...

The "zero waste movement" is relatively new here, and I want to say that it started about 6 or 7 years ago. This is not to say that some environmental NGOs have not solved the waste problem before: they have been doing this under the term "Müllvermeidung" (literally means avoiding waste) for decades.But perhaps new and more attractive wording, coupled with minimalism, fresh and mentally healthy lifestyle images, unpackaged grocery campaigns, bloggers and media support, all help to make "zero waste" one Kind of trend. More or fewer structured groups are being created to focus on the idea of ​​zero waste. Like our organization, they first explore lifestyle aspects, then explore other zero waste areas, and finally raise questions about the root causes of waste management to address all stages of the waste hierarchy.

As a result, the movement is booming and maturing, and the information formed by NGOs and experts over the past 40 years (the same as what happened in the climate movement) is finding new ears and a broad audience, and affecting municipalities and Politicians. ...This is very positive. I believe that in the next few years, the sports will become more organized and more effective.

You can find more information about zero waste Kiel e.V. and its work here.

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