On September 15th 2018, about 20 people came together for the third GreenBuzz Berlin Sustainability Lab at DAS BAUMHAUS in Berlin-Wedding to jointly work on three challenges that have been proposed by active members of the GreenBuzz community in Berlin.

Challenge 1 – Upcycling Challenge by Damar Rivillo: Transforming the unwanted clothes around us is a way to start tackling the waste problem of the fashion industry, one of the most unsustainable in the world. This challenge is an open workshop about ways to transform and customize old clothes.

Challenge 2 – Furniture Rentals by 12rooms: The challenge aims at changing the way in which furniture is consumed by offering design furniture for rent. How can we make furniture rentals accessible for everyone? What are the biggest challenge furniture online shops are facing from storage to delivery?

Challenge 3 – News You Can Use by Baumhaus Berlin: For the past two and half years the “Community Networking Night” at Das Baumhaus Berlin’s hub for sustainable development has provided a live event. The challenge aims at producing parts of the live event in audio (spoken word and music), video, photos and text.

We will describe the process and results for each challenge in the following.

Upcycling Fashion

In the Upcycling Fashion workgroup, the team decided to focus on one idea: creating a carpet from material that they will find on the street. This carpet could be a collaborative project: each of Berlin’s “Kiez” could create a part of the carpet.

The carpet would then be used during an event such as the Berlin Fashion week as a statement for more sustainability in the fashion world. Stars could take pictures on the carpet, and individuals could then go back home with a piece of the carpet. Either these pieces would be sold to fund the project, or the people involved in the project would get the opportunity to take a piece home for free.

This idea was selected by the team because of two reasons:

  • it facilitates participation on upcycling project: everyone can come to make this carpet, and make a small piece, their own contribution. There is no skill needed such as knowing how to sew or how to design clothes.
  • the potential impact of this idea is bigger than the individual. With the media outreached, awareness is created at a high level, and hopefully many people will be touched by this concept.

With the main objective of creating awareness on a more global level the idea was developed further and taken to a digital approach, in which a web page with the design of the carpet would allow each piece to be a downloadable pdf pattern. The idea is that anyone anywhere can acquire the patterns, cut and sew the pieces they want and send them to Berlin. The online design will be updated live once someone acquires and sends a pattern.

Flexible Furniture

In the Flexible Furniture workgroup, the team was introduced in to the furniture rental concept of 12rooms and addressed the challenge of making furniture flexible and sustainable for people that can’t or don’t want to buy their own furniture. The idea was rental furniture, but who was the target group and would they pay for it?

After conducting interviews on the street and creating a persona based on the answers, it became clear that young professionals with a relatively good income as well as expats who would stay temporarily in Berlin but also over an extended period of time were the main target group. So the group continued to address the question: How might we provide young professionals with additional furniture without commitment?

The selected target group is facing a clear challenge in Berlin: accommodation is a scarce resource and hard to come by in many cases. People in the target group often resort to AirBnB and other temporary solutions like subletting. Often those places are furnished, sometimes only with the basics, so that additional furniture is needed to complement the setup. For some pieces in sublet environments there is also a certain resistance to reuse items like mattresses, blankets, covers or even sofas, if they are not professionally cleaned.

During the discussion of the solution the group discussed various serious and less serious approaches to the problem. It became clear however, that pricing and practicability are major issues for the approach. Furniture (especially if targeted for temporary use in the first place) can be acquired for very low prices today and a hassle-less, comfortable and fun experience is key for furniture rental success. Fast delivery, included setup and pick up are required services, potentially requiring a big logistic effort.

However, from a sustainability perspective the idea to provide rental furniture that can be reduced many times and that helps people settle into new places quickly and without huge efforts is very appealing and the amount of CO2 that can be saved by reusing and recycling furniture is significant.

News You Can Use

In contrast to the other two challenges, the News You Can Use challenge accompanied the two other challenges and built on top of their activities and results. Picking up on the fact that we need good news to feel hopeful and optimistic, news you can use would gather information about events, activities and news from Berlin and share those among interested people.

In the episode of News You Can Use at the Sustainability Lab Wedding, the participants of the labs initially shared their group results, processes and insights with each other. These presentations were completed by a round of news sharing, where everybody in the audience could share any news about upcoming events, interesting projects or event their own personal news/needs and updates in a friendly and supporting environment.

As a general outlook, News You Can Use will become a platform to document live events like the regular weekly Thursday Community Networking Night at das Baumhaus in audio, video and photo and editing for short info media pieces. News You Can Use will also collaborate with the Upcycling Fashion team to provide a workspace, material and machines as well as coverage about the project to disseminate the results and ensure an outreach to interested people in Berlin.

Further sessions will allow the recording of video, photo and audio material by news teams that act as active participants in activities to create a comfortable zone for all. Materials will be shown on further collected at the Emergent Berlin 2018 (Nov 5 – 17, DAS BAUMHAUS) as next big event to document for future “News You Can Use” podcast.

Whats Next?

This was the third and for the time being last of our Sustainability Labs series. It was a lot of fun and we are very grateful for the great initiatives that became part of it.

All information about other upcoming events and GreenBuzz activities can be found at https://greenbuzzberlin.de and on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/greenbuzzberlin.

The Sustainability Labs are funded by Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit aufgrund eines Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestages / Funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety due to a decision of the German Federal Parliament.

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