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If you come from the sustainable development, ecology, climate change etc. world, you have certainly heard the word zero waste. The movement was founded by Bea Johnson in San Francisco and spread all over the world: USA, Canada, France, Switzerland, Germany and even at local levels (read my previous article on Zero Waste Carouge (in French). The focus of zero waste is to reduce one’s footprint on the planet by using reusable, recycled and/or repairing options such as refilling bottles, totebags, washing cotton pads etc. Although the objective is similar, approaches may differ between Zero Waste Organisations.

At Zero Waste Swizerland, the main focus is waste. Through awareness-rising activities, Zero Waste Switzerland encourages waste reduction and the adoption of reusable items. The idea is to change behaviour and push for waste avoidance/reduction legislation with the circular economy in mind. They will then also offer workshops to help citizens, companies and collectivities make these changes.

Credit photo:  Laura Mitulla on Unsplash

Zero Waste Germany on the other hand, focuses more on the circular aspect. There is also the idea of transformative behaviour, but more generally for sustainability and not specifically on waste reduction. It implies a sustainable consumption with reusable items as well as local products. Zero Waste Germany provides consulting services for companies to build their CSR (in terms of sustainable practices). For the political side, they help politicians build their sustainability and climate change agenda, providing advices.

The differences between these two Zero Waste organisations is on the focus: the German one seems more general than the Swiss one. However, activities are quite similar (workshops, conferences, advisory services etc.) and both support local products consumption and aim to the same goal: rising awareness among the people, the businesses and the politicians. Maybe for companies, Zero Waste Switzerland’s goal is more narrow:  encouraging local businesses to accept containers for take-away food and introduce throughout Switzerland the deposit system, whereas in Germany, there is a support for any companies in their zero waste journey, so it is more holistic.

Approaches may differ, but there are lots of interconnections. At the end of the day, what matters is to reduce our footprint and take care of the Earth, because there is no planet B.


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If you are concerned by plastic pollution or would like to know why we need to take action, I wrote three articles in French: 

  1. Combattre la pollution des océans (1): la réponse de la gouvernance internationale et nationale
  2. Combattre la pollution des océans (2): état du problème
  3. Combattre la pollution des océans (3): l’action locale