Grünblick: Sustainable consumption

In Easter week 2021, from 06-09 April, 20 young people looking for guidance on green career opportunities met in a digital work camp around upcycling, environmentally friendly production, fair fashion and zero waste: in short, around sustainable consumption. As the meeting was digital, all participants had received a wonder box with all kinds of whimsical material. From personal experiences about the SDGs to experts from the fashion industry and recyclables industry, everything was on offer.
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31.08.2021 / 12 Uhr
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Sustainable consumption

The participants came in particular from Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saarland, driven by the curiosity to discover sustainable tips and possibilities for action for their private everyday life as well as for their studies and training field. For many, the focus was on the question of which direction their choice of training could go in the first place, and for others, already in training, it was more a question of how the transition of their own industry, whether trade fair construction, fashion or media, can succeed in the direction of sustainability and circular economy.

The work camp had a space to offer for most of these questions: Tuesday started with personal expectations and a discussion-oriented workshop on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Wednesday was about the fashion industry and global poverty. Thursday was all about the impact of global consumption on climate change and recycling. On Friday, the camp culminated in a professional outdoor coaching.

Sustainable development goals

Thematically, the work camp started with a workshop on the SDGs, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were discovered interactively via a "padelet". Here, the participants divided into small groups and each discussed three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals on the topic of sustainable consumption. The thoughts and results were recorded live online and presented to the other groups afterwards. In the course of the work camp, the participants and speakers kept coming back to the SDGs, which made the context of the SDGs and their relevance in political and business practice increasingly clear to the participants.

"map of tomorrow" and sustainable business.

But how are sustainable development goals measured and where can I find concrete consumption alternatives and best practice examples of exemplary economic activity?

For this purpose, the concept of the doughnut economy by Prof. Kate Raworth was presented, which depicts the social challenges and ecological limits in a graphic, related to the world, to a country or also to a company. This assessment scheme is also integrated in the "Map of Tomorrow", an interactive online platform for change initiatives and sustainable enterprises. (kartevonmorgen.org) The participants had the task to explore their own living environment on the sustainability map, to map new entries and to rate already listed organisations as well as to share them in their social networks.

Zero Waste Workshop

In the evening, after a short reflection round on the day, the secret about the materials in the work camp box was revealed: The materials were used for producing self-made and sustainable beeswax wipes, soaps, detergents, deodorants, mouthwash, all-purpose cleaners and scouring powder. For this purpose, the work camp shifted to the participants' kitchens and together they brewed what soda, soda ash, citric acid, vinegar and curd soap had to offer on the cooker and in the oven.

Fair Fashion with JAN 'N JUNE

The second day of the Worcamp is all about the many start-ups in the growing market of sustainable fashion. We were visited by Anna Rogun, a young woman from Munich who works in marketing at Jan'n June in Hamburg and knows a lot about the difficult global clothing market. First, she took us into the world of greenwashing and showed us how, with simple but legal terms, green colours, natural images and bogus facts, successful companies deceive the masses and calm their guilty consciences when buying. Some people, who thought they knew the ropes, fall for a green poster with 100% cotton, without anything being sustainable about it.

Later, the participants discussed the possibilities to support sustainable labels, to see through supply chains and got to know the profession of sustainability certifiers as well as places where you can get sustainable fashion.

Salzwasser

The start-up process of a sustainable fashion label became even more concrete with Lennart, one of the co-founders of Salzwasser.eu. This brand has founded a non-profit association for environmental protection in addition to its sustainable company, so that the ecological impact is an integral part of the business model. The transparency is also unique: the impact, the materials, traceability and circular economy are measured for each product, as well as a detailed breakdown of who receives how much of the purchase price. And that's a really fair wage for the industry, since large companies like to negotiate down to 1% at this weakest link in the supply chain.

But there is one point where transparency is still lacking: they do not publish the exact suppliers and factories where the garments are made. "Lennart admits that this is to protect them from copycats, who would otherwise find it too easy to copy the entire construction work of Saltwater, even if he himself immediately agrees that this does not necessarily keep the competition away.

Agatá Home and innovation for sustainable consumer behaviour

From these two entrepreneurial examples, the participants could already take away the target group-oriented way of thinking and the spirit of experimentation of the founders, which they needed in the following task. Elisabeth Sinner presented her Mannheim-based retail store Agatá Home, which she wants to give a new direction, away from pure consumerism and towards a quality furnishing store for ecological awareness. In small groups, all participants worked together with the social entrepreneur on solutions for sustainable consumer behaviour in her start-up: on the SDGS, minimalism and supply chain transparency. At the end, the participants presented their creative ideas to the Agata-Home team and the whole group.

Ifeu Institute on Climate Research

On the third and last input day, we got to know the ifeu Institute "for breakfast" and their work in calculating the CO2 footprint in consumption. Miriam Dingeldey is responsible for the figures in the area of consumption at the Federal Environment Agency's CO2 calculator and explained how the scientific work is carried out. However, not only the research and the limits of the scientific calculation of human behaviour were discussed, but also the work as an employee at a large research institute based on funding.

Abfallwirtschaft bei metabolon

From the greenhouse gas, it went straight to the landfill and the recyclables sector at the Leppe waste disposal centre in NRW. The first "solid" job you might think, so the clean disposal of waste is finally a problem area that is quite obvious even without scientists and global journalism.

Südzucker

But it all started with an internet research on sugar: where does it come from, what is its global significance, who profits from it in Germany and what are the consequences for consumers. The predominantly critical points that the Internet and Wikipedia had to offer seemed to be blown away during Südzucker's presentation. The traditional company is very concerned about sustainability, also for cost reasons. Fields and processing plants should be as close together as possible, the tractors have a specially programmed navigation system to save kilometres of detours through field paths, and they even try to reduce the use of pesticides with their own seal for their farms. Although these are only small percentages that are saved by the individual truck and the individual farmer, extrapolated to the large mass that Südzucker cultivates in its sugar belt in Lower Saxony, around Mannheim and throughout Europe, Südzucker can probably save more CO2 and pesticides than any committed organic farmer.

Outdoor coaching for career orientation

computer and immediately went into nature. Because the hiking coaching was done together in nature, and only online for a few inputs. The participants were guided by the two professional hiking coaches Julia and Juli from movingmountains.eu/, partly in the whole group and partly in small groups. For the coaching sessions in nature, the participants went out alone and meanwhile talked on the phone with other participants and exchanged their career aspirations and individual talents in peer-to-peer coaching sessions. Despite the digital implementation, the coaching was a good opportunity for the participants to deal with their career path independently of everyday challenges, e.g. expectations of the social environment.

Participation and registration

Interested parties can subscribe to the newsletter at www.grünblick.de. The dates for 2021 will be announced via the newsletter and the website.

Project funding

The "Grünblick" project is funded under the ESF federal programme "Promoting Vocational Education and Training for Sustainable Development. Via green key competences to climate and resource-friendly action at work - BBNE" by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the European Social Fund.