GreenBuzz Sustainability Lab Wedding – Upcycling Fashion, Furniture Rentals and Positive News

What is a Sustainability Lab?

In our Sustainability Labs event series, GreenBuzz Berlin e.V. connects citizens and initiatives, which operate on neighbourhood level to develop innovative, realistic and sustainable solutions which protect the climate in the neighbourhood. After defining and kick-starting your solution in one of the three Sustainability Labs, GreenBuzz Berlin will support and fund the next steps to bring your idea to life!

On September 15th 2018, approximately 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 Fashion by Damar Rivillo. Transforming unwanted clothes into useful products is a way to start tackling the waste problem of the fashion industry, which is one of the most unsustainable industries 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 to change the way that furniture is consumed by offering designer furniture for rent. How can we make furniture rentals accessible for everyone? What are the biggest challenges 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 been a live event. The challenge is to reproduce parts of the live event in different forms, including audio (spoken word and music), video, photos and text.

Upcycling Fashion

In the Upcycling Fashion workgroup, the team decided to focus on one idea: creating a carpet from material that they 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. It would act as a statement about the need to make the fashion industry more sustainable. Fashion models 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. Everyone can come together to make this carpet. There is no prior skill or experience required (e.g. how to sew or how to design clothes).
  • The potential impact of this idea is bigger than the individual. With the inevitable media attention, awareness will be generated at a high level. Hopefully, many people will be touched by this concept.

The main objective is to create awareness on a more global level. As such, 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.

Furniture Rentals

In the Flexible Furniture workgroup, the team was introduced to the furniture rental concept by 12rooms. They addressed how to make 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 how 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?

During the discussion of the solution, the group discussed various approaches to the problem. It became clear that pricing and practicability are major issues. Furniture (especially if targeted for temporary use in the first place) can be acquired for very low prices.. Accordingly, a hassle-free, 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 reused many times and that helps people settle into new places quickly and without huge efforts is appealing. The amount of CO2 that can be saved by reusing and recycling furniture is significant.

News You Can Use

The News You Can Use working group 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, the initiative aims to gather information about events, activities and news from Berlin and share those among interested people.

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

What’s Next?

Based on these results, we are now working on the first prototypes. We continue to follow and support the groups throughout the process to put theselected ideas into action. Involving and informing the public about these projects, as well as additional projects, are a core responsibility of GreenBuzz Berlin in that regard.

Sounds like something you want to do as well? Take the sustainability labs to your country and city, empower initiatives and citizens and help save CO2 on a local level!

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