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Waterkant 2019: a festival truly Zero Waste

Waterkant 2019: A truly zero-waste festival

For the fourth consecutive year, the Waterkant Music Festival was held in Kiel, Germany from June 13th to 14th, 2019.

This is a cross-border entrepreneurship festival (mainly Schleswig-Holstein and the Baltic region) with interactive seminars, inspiring speakers, innovative and fascinating ideas and informal exchanges, and approximately 1,000 visitors By. Since 2015, the festival has increasingly focused on sustainable themes such as climate change, mobility and waste reduction. This year, part of the organization team-Sylvie Rham, Alexander Ohrt, Tim Logan and Eliza Rottengatter from Opencampus-created a systematic waste reduction concept for the festival with the support of Zero Waste Kiel.

Their motto is "RE//THINK" and they put this festival at the top of the zero waste level!

Waterkant 2019 benefited from one of Kiel's current zero waste projects, which designed a modular "zero waste certification" system for festivals, organizations, businesses and institutions. The project has been submitted to the cross-border innovation challenge in the Kiel region and will be further developed at the European level together with other members of the Zero Waste European Network.

To achieve zero waste, you need to have certain elements: logistics skills, common sense, and strong will, enthusiasm and creativity. The first two elements are the minimum qualities you expect from a good and experienced festival organizer. However, Zero Waste Kiel has experienced more will, passion and creativity than imagined!

Together with Marie and Marc Delaperrière of Zero Waste Kiel, we systematically analyzed where the festival causes waste and what possible alternatives we have. This is not easy at first, because at first glance you won't question your habits. But once you start thinking about different areas, you will notice more and more sources of waste and come up with new ideas. We are like in a hurry! The best thing is: it's fun, fun and crazy creative!

Sylvie Rham, member of the Waterkant organization team

Finally, even if there are some improvements, this festival is worthy of the name "Zero Waste Festival."

Let's take a closer look at some examples of zero waste.

Festival infrastructure:

The festival itself is located in an old naval squadron by the sea in Kiel, temporarily bringing new vitality to the place. Almost all decorations are made of reusable (and reusable) materials and second-hand furniture. The signs are not painted, but written in chalk to ensure they can be reused in the next festival. Plants used for decoration are sold at auction at the end of the festival.

food and drinks:

Water is an essential resource for life, and tap water is the most sustainable way of distribution. In many festivals, people cannot get it or need to beg for a free glass of water. In old warehouses, water distribution points are very limited. Nevertheless, the team carefully refilled several large jars of water.

In the same area, a group of food savers called Resteritter provides fruits, vegetables and chutneys for free.

Food trucks and caterers are also there: food and beverages are on reusable plates. Disposable items are completely forbidden to participate in this festival. Eating with the right plate is not only a zero waste problem: it is also more enjoyable to use the meal. It doesn't matter whether it is a vegetarian burrito or the classic "Curry Sausage". Disposable straws are replaced by natural straws (or no straws at all), and cloth napkins are used instead of paper towels.

"Spülbar" is an initiative to provide dishwashers installed on heavy-duty bicycles, responsible for cleaning.

What you see and what you don't see

Zero waste can be frustrating, especially when you want your efforts to be visible. This is difficult when your zero-waste alternative means that you may not see anything: some examples are parking lots that are not marked or have no participant’s name tag (whereas in previous years they reused beer coasters as name tags) ).

Waste management:

Good on-site waste management is essential. Festival visitors can be lazy, so if you don't want to see the trash can, they need to find the trash can quickly. Therefore, trash bins for sorting waste are placed in several places. In the same way, a box was placed near each garbage station to collect deposit bottles and reusable tableware. Some helpers contributed to keeping it well organized during the festival.

The local waste management company ABK has supported the zero waste Kiel organization's waste collection operation and has responded very positively to the demand for several trash bins to make waste separation possible. As a challenge, they provided only one leftover bin for the entire festival!

Shortly before the festival, the Zero Waste Kiel team registered with the organizers for the last time and made final recommendations on how to make the waste management logistics between the booth, the catering supplier and the central trash bin efficient.

Zero waste communication:

A festival needs publicity to be able to visit. Usually, there will be flyers, signs, etc. A person may also receive good things to take home. Waterkant adopted a minimalist approach, placing a limited number of flyers in the form of postcards in strategic locations, reducing the information of sponsors and partners to one wall and online communication. In fact, the reputation of this festival in previous years is enough to attract tourists.

Promote zero waste

Let the festival truly achieve zero waste: communication is the key! Visitors, partners, suppliers (can choose from sustainable regional companies), exhibitors, and any other participants must be notified in order to work together and not do the opposite (for example, provide plastic bottled beverages).The Waterkant Festival team adopted a clear communication strategy, formulated a code of conduct, and shared several blog posts explaining the zero-waste option and reminders throughout the festival. At the opening ceremony, Tim Logan announced the zero waste approach. In addition, the sorting container allows visitors to witness the waste generated during the festival and its management.

Zero Waste Kiel also made its debut with its highly conspicuous booth. Skadi Frahm, Pia Stock and Frederike Fahrenbach provided information on the concept of zero waste and how the association promotes this concept in lifestyles, businesses and cities. The result of this communication strategy is excellent: zero waste is universally respected by visitors, exhibitors and partners-and it generates very little waste!

Room for improvement? Accept imperfection and end

Since the 2019 edition is an experiment, the next few years will be more challenging. Obviously, not everything is perfect (for example, some caterers have proposed paper towels or carton boards, and there are not enough signs to cause confusion on different bins). Zero waste methods and honest follow-up intentions are essential. However, in the next few years, improving logistics and communications will become important. Zero Waste Kiel will meet again with the core team of the festival, listen to reports on related activities, emphasize future potential, and quantify the waste results.

Copy and scale models

Festivals, exhibitions, or any other events are often used to promote new products, brands or technologies because they affect a large and easy-to-accept public. However, as Waterkant showed, they can also show the same general public that new ecological visions such as zero waste are reality (Waterkant also discussed topics such as mobility-encouraging tourists to ride bicycles-food and energy).

Regardless of the scale, what Waterkant does can be replicated. This is also an interesting pilot experience for Zero Waste Kiel, and they aim to support other zero waste programs to further improve their guidance tools.

Did this article stimulate your imagination? Do you have zero-waste ideas about your own projects in your mind? Don't forget... the key word is "re/think"!

For more information, please visit:

Zero waste kiel

Water festival

Photo credit: Pia stock, Marie Delaperrière, Marc Delaperrière

Special thanks to the team

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