Cardboard Furniture

During Christmas season, incredible amounts of packaging waste are being generated. As packaging material is cheap, most products are being covered by several layers of plastic, paper and cardboard. Usually these mountains of trash are immediately being discarded once the products they contain are set free.
Paper production has an especially devastating impact on the global environment. About 40% of all logging activities can be attributed to paper production. Recycling rates of paper are still being relatively low, especially in the USA, where 26 million tons of paper waste find their way into landfills1.
However, there are ways one can reuse paper products such as cardboard and give them a new value, for example by transforming them into – furniture.

Usually, cardboard is used as a one-way packaging material. However, it is also possible to create long-lasting products from it. Cardboard is a cheap, light and sustainable alternative to other materials, such as plastic or hardwood. It can be made out of recycled paper and can be completely recycled.
From tables to shelves, nearly every piece of furniture can be made from cardboard. Several small start-up companies deliver the pieces of cardboard alongside with an Ikea-style leaflet of instructions to put them together. The costumer then assembles the pieces of cardboard or disassembles them when it needs to be moved. It is surprising how much weight assembled cardboard pieces can safely carry. For pieces which are supposed to last longer, thicker material can be used, or thin cardboard pieces can be glued together.

Furniture made from cardboard is not a new idea. In 1972, Frank Ghery created the «wiggle chair», a piece of designer furniture, which is still available today and even exposed in museums. Formerly cardboard furniture was mostly the work of artists and designers, but now we witness an increase of small businesses and DIY projects.

In the USA, a young entrepreneur, Zachary Rotholz, created his company of cardboard furniture through a kickstarter campaign. The Chairigami furniture not especially designed to last, but their main purpose is to be used in situation where they need to be constantly moved such as colleges, open office spaces or at any kind of temporary events. The aim is to reduce the amount of furniture made from wood or plastics which are bought and thrown away only a short time later. It is ideal for students who often remain only a very limited period in the same place.
Rotholz’ designs are almost all open-source, on his website people could suggest improvements for the chairs, couches and shelves he offered, and customers change the way they are supposed to be used or assembled.

The German company uocu produces modular shelves which can be adjusted by the customer according to his or her special needs. In this way, only those elements which are really wanted by the customer are being delivered.

It is also possible to make this furniture on your own. There are many very good DIY-explanations to be found online how to build your on chair, table or bench. On foldschool.com there is a collection of plans to make cardboard furniture for children. Hundreds of youtube-tutorials show how to transform you spare cardboard from Christmas into beautiful and original pieces for your interior design.

A nine year old boy from the USA invented another very creative way to use old cardboard. He used the cardbard which was left over from his father’s store to build an arcade. Caine’s Arcade became world-famous; today, there is even a Caine’s Scholarship Fund and a foundation sponsoring creative children. Similarly incredible is the story of Izhar Gafni who built a fully functioning bicycle from cardboard.



More information to be found under:



Picture with courtesy of Jonathan Choe




1. Background

Beginning of December and it is getting cold out there. Even wearing the thickest woolen sweater one starts to freeze and with increasing energy prices, switching on the heat becomes more unattractive every year. In fact, the German federal agency for consumer protection estimated that the average German family had to pay some € 5100 for gasoline, electricity and heating in 2013, which is a 34 % increase compared to what they payed in 2008c The average annual costs to heat a 70 squaremeter appartment in 2013 ranged between € 970 and € 10501. Compared with the amount that had to be paid for the same appartment in 2011 the costs for the different heat supplying sources increased, ranging from +7,7 % for gas, +11,2 % for oil and + 9,6 % for distance heating. As can be seen, the price for heating energy depends on the supplysource. For example households heating with oil spend some 20 % more than those heating with gas2. With the steady depletion of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, the prices for energy will further increase every year.

This does not only pressure the wallets of houseowners and tenants but can actually result in health impacts for the residents. Especially in England the term fuel poverty is well known and reappears annualy in the news. People who are simply not able to pay their energy bills get disconnected from the supplysources, a situation that foremost in winter has severe impacts on their health3.

However there are other components that influence the amount a household has to pay for heating energy. Most importantly, the characteristics of the present insulation of a building. The more heat it can keep within the rooms, or store in the walls to give backt to the livingspace, the lower is the energy bill. With a proper understanding of materials and investments into insulation the annually increasing costs for energy can be counterweighted and the one or other penny may even be saved.

2. Opportunity

Part of saving energy and costs is to understand the materials that are used for the insulation. The most important characteristics it has to fulfill are to shield the warm indoors from the cold outdoors (or in summer the other way round), store heat inside the walls and allow breathability to avoid a build up of mold. Clay is one of the oldest building materials known and combines these characteristics flawlessly. In addition it is cheap, abundant and an all natural product. It can be either burned to bricks or used as plaster. As opposed to concrete bricks, those made from clay have a lower heat transfer and thus a better storage capacity4. Furthermore, houses build from clay bricks are more durable and provide a more natural room climate5. Traditional plasters made from a mixture of fibrous materials and clay combine thermal benefits with breathability and are thus an efficient and cheap alternative to those made from concrete.

For the construction of new buildings it may be worthwhile to consider clay as a building material and benefit especially from its heat storing characteristics.

To see the great heat storage efficiency of clay we want to introduce the Pot Heater, which is this week’s do-it-yourself project.

3. Do it yourself – Potheater

There are some general advantages of the Potheater, such as saving energy and fuel and thus the one or other penny. Moreover it is an effective way to heat off grid as the clay pot can actually store alot of heat for a long time, while only requiring a small energy source. Combined with the simplicity and size of the pot heater this makes it a great alternative as an off grid source for heat. In general the pot heater may be nice to have in any outdoor gathering when temberatures drop: whether on a camping trip, in winter on the front porch or in your garden shack.

Besides the aspect of heating you can also test whether the pot heater can be used for cooking purposes in a similar way to the tradtitional Arabic Tajine or the Roman clay baker.

This project combines the practical work with natural materials with explaining basic physical principles of fire, heat storage and airflow, making it a great aktivity especially for school children.

Here is a basic list of the materials you will need:

3 x Terracotta flower pots (non-glazed), different sizes (!)

1 x Threadded rod or screw ca. 15 cm long, and 2 cm diameter (depeding on the pot)

6 x Nut that fits on the rod

6 x Steel washer different sizes

3 x Tea lights or small candles

Now assemble the pots as shown in the graphic below. The nuts and washers are used as placeholders and to fix the pots to the rod. Stack the pots into each other and make sure that there is 2-3cm space inbetween them. Furthermore, the inner pots should not extend beyod the rim of the outer pots. Now, find something heat resistant and stable to put the construction on, place a candle underneath the centre of the smallest pot and wait for it to keep you warm.

For more information you can find video instructions on youtube


There are detailed construction guidelines available online:





potheater Potheater We Blue









Plant your own Forest

The Problem:

The steadily increasing demand for wood as a building material or source of paper and pulp has lead to a drastic reduction of the Earth’s forest cover. Forests carry out essential ecosystem services for the planet. While being home to a vast biodiversity, they also regulate the global climate. Deforestation has negative effects on biodiversity, climate, and the water cycle. It negatively affects agriculture and leads to increased soil erosion. The United Nations estimate that about 13 million hectares of forests are cut down by humans. This is equivalent to the size of Greece. At the same time, however, new forests are being planted, so that the net loss of global forests cover is about 8,9 million hectares annually1.

However, not every act of afforestation is necessarily a positive one. Large scale timber plantations, for example, with one highly dominant tree species, like eucalyptus, are often rather damaging to the environment than beneficial, as they destroy the ecosystem balance. Hardly any biodiversity can be found in these areas, and instead of bringing the water cycle into a balance, the area dries out.

The Solution:

The Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado was devastated when he saw how his homeland has changed throughout his life. The once dense tropical rainforest (Mata Atlantica) he grew up in, has developed into a desert with most animals having left the area. Salgado founded the NGO Instituto Terra, with the aim to replant the entire forest. While this sounds like an impossible idea, within 15 years, over 1 million trees have been planted and the animals are back – even the leopards!

On the other side of the world, the award-winning “forest man of India”, Jadav Payeng, has spent 40 years on replanting a forest on Majuli island. Today, there are elephants, rhinos, tigers, deers and vultures to be found in his 550 hectares big forest. His vision is to stop the erosion of his home island by planting more and more trees and at the same time offer economic advantages by developing a coconut industry.

What can you do:

You do not have to think in these huge dimensions to make change. The engineer Shubhendu Sharma founded the company Afforestt which focuses on creating multilayer forests on urban fallow lands. On a parking lot for six cars, Sharma claims to be able to create a highly biodiverse multistorage forest with 300 trees. He developed a methodology to assess exactly which trees should be planted on which soils and offers remote soil testing to provide a growing plan for any fallow land anywhere in the world.

For planting a forest, you can fertilize the soil with locally produced organic waste material – like coconut shells, sawdust or litter. Anywhere where there is a small piece of empty land – a backyard, slope, unused parking lot – a small forest can grow. Before you start planting, it is of course necessary to ask the owner of the piece of land (which is often the city administration) for permission. There are some NGOs like Plant for the Planet which plant trees for you for just a small donation.

The easiest method for doing it yourself is to use seedbombs. These small bags filled with a seed mix can be thrown basically anywhere and also increase urban biodiversity, when the right mix is used.

These actions can increase the urban biodiversity, improve air and water quality, and in some cases even provide food items growing in the small forest.

You just have to check which tree species naturally originate from your region. Then pick several species which all have different heights when fully grown. In this way, you can plant your own multistorage forest and do your part to protect the climate and make cities greener and cleaner.

Further information to be found under:





Picture with courtesy of Sole Perez



Occupy Emissions Trading

The Problem:

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions which originate from all forms of industrial production processes are the major cause for climate change. In order to mitigate climate change, the European Union developed the European Emissions Trading Scheme – in short ETS. This was the response to the obligations the Kyoto protocol established for the industrialized state parties to reduce the emissions from their industry. The ETS is basically a marketplace where the biggest emitters can trade emission permits, depending on how much they emit. One permit allows the owner to emit one ton of CO2. Initially, the permits where distributed to the companies according to their history of emissions; since 2012, however, a large amount of the permits is auctioned. Once a firm own a permit, it can trade it with other firms. In this way, it is sought to set incentives to reduce emissions and earn additional income instead.

The problem with this well-intended plan is that it is very difficult to establish the ideal amount of permits to be put on the market. Indeed, this is a very complicated calculation, based on the analysis of prospective economic growth, output and energy consumption in the next trading period (usually 5 years). When the economic crisis struck, the emissions trading scheme began to fail, as the price of the permit fell to almost zero, as the economy slowed own and produced less. Therefore, one could again pollute the atmosphere for free, as it was the case before the Kyoto protocol went into force. The problem lies within the core of the system: the thresholds are set by the government, which have understandably a strong incentive to promote economic growth. Lobbyism of the big polluters further increases the amount of initially allocated permits on the market.

To summarize: the ETS has failed. One ton of CO2 costs just above 4,50 Euros on average, which is definitely now strong incentive for firms to cut emissions. By the end of 2013, the surplus permits rose to over 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

What is done:

As a response to the failing of the ETS, the British NGO Sandbag developed and realized a plan to change the system from within. The emissions trading takes place according to a free market approach. Therefore, everybody can basically take place in the trading of emissions.

However, in order to be able to trade on the emissions market, one needs to obtain a special license from the exchange place.

Sandbag did exactly this. And now, the organization is collection money in a form of crowd-funding and then buys emission permits at the official marketplace. However, instead of using or trading the permits, Sandbag destroys them. In this way, the organization attempts at reducing the overall amount of permits on the markets and as a result increase the price per permit. That means that everybody can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by a couple of tons with just a few Euros.

Now imagine, what disturbance a Europe-wide action could cause on the emissions trading market!

Many companies have actually benefited from the ETS, as the initial allocation of was wrongly calculated. These “carbon fat-cats” where given too many permits in the first place and could therefore emit millions of tons of carbon dioxide for free. Now it’s time to challenge the system with its own weapons.

Further links:




Picture with courtesy of Aniroudh Koul



Share your Seeds – a Solution to Biodiversity Loss

The Problem:

In 2009, Johan Rockström, the executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, together with a group of experts identified a set of 9 planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for the generations to come, including amongst others climate change, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss especially poses a global threat: 75% of agricultural diversity disappeared since the beginning of the 20th century. One of the reason for this is the development of monoculture and the loss of genetic diversity. But genetic diversity is crucial, without it seeds cannot resist to changing weather conditions and parasites. The lack of crops biodiversity can also lead to food security problems.

With the development of biotechnologies, intellectual property right over seeds came into being, in order to pay for the investments made in research and development.

First of all, to understand this issue it is important to understand the differences between three types of seeds.
The Heirloom seeds can be tracked in the past. They reproduce naturally through pollination, without any brutal modification. They are exactly the same plants that their parent plant. These varieties can be reproduced and preserved season after season in a natural way.

The hybrid seeds are created artificially, they have been « bred » and grown specifically to aid in their production and resistance to disease. They are made by breeding two different plants together to get a third variety. These hybrids only produce non fertile seeds.

Then the CMS (cytoplasm male sterility seeds) hybrids are even less fertile: they do not produce pollen, and so are unable to reproduce themselves. This has the same effect than a patent providing totally the reproduction of a species.

Because of the hybrid varieties small farmers who produce hybrids varieties are at the mercy of big companies, because it is forbidden to keep the seeds in order to cultivate them the following year, they have to buy new ones every season. The agribusiness has a monopoly of the seeds: 58% of the global market of seed varieties are patented and belong to the 4 leaders in the industry.

It is also important to say that the hybrid variety usually need more pesticides and fertilizers than the Heirloom, those products being sold by the same companies providing the hybrids.

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What is done ?

The open source seed initiative (OSSI) is a community on the campus of the university of Wisconsin. Their starting point is the idea that genetic resources and seeds should be protected commons, free for humanity to use in any way it sees fit. The community developed a « free seed » pledge, that is printed on every seed packet they exchange or send to other people. This pledge states that the seeds contained in the packet can be « freely used, sold, bred and shared, and cannot be legally restricted in any case ». This way they want to make sure that at least, the genes in some seeds can never be locked away from use by intellectual property rights. This initiative was taken in response to the increased patenting of seeds worldwide, and was inspired by the open-source software movement.

Another great initiative takes place in France, at La Bourdaisière. There you can find the tomato conservatory where 650 different varieties of tomatoes are cultivated. The founder of this garden, Louis Albert de Broglie wanted to allow the public to watch, learn and understand the importance of biodiversity and to pass those varieties to the future generations. A yearly festival is also organised, where people can visit the gardens.

What can you do ?

The Hawaiian initiative “Eating in public” allows everyone to build a sharing seed station. They provide free plans of the stations, then you just have to put seed in used envelops repurposed into seed-packets, to put a stamp on the envelop, to write down the name of the seeds and any additional notes, to staple the envelop and it is ready to be shared.

The stations they provide on the island of Hawaii are entirely build with scraps and repurposed materials. They are launched with a starter kit of recycled envelops, stamp, staple and 50 seeds packets. Then it requires almost no-maintenance, people just need to replace the envelops, sharpen the pencils and send photos of the stations to “Eat in Public”.

The initiative provides stations for free in Hawaii, but for people outside of the island “Eat in Public” offers DIYs: the plans of the stations can be downloaded freely from their website.
The stations are designed to be placed on locations with lots of traffic and used by diverse populations. The favoured spots are amongst other: community centres, libraries, churches, coffee shops and so on.

To go further: useful Links:


World Bank Photo Collection: https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldbank/14982575134/

Stone Paper – The environmentally friendly paper of the future?

Stone Paper – The environmentally friendly paper of the future?

Producers are praising stone paper as particularly sustainable. But if all paper were replaced by stone paper, global plastic production would increase by up to two thirds! 
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For several years now, large stationary companies such as Oxford or Moleskine have been promoting the idea of replacing paper by so-called stone paper. Unlike common paper, stone paper is not made of wood but from pulverized limestone and plastic.  The producers are focusing their marketing on the eco-friendliness and resource efficiency of this new product. Since neither wood nor water are required for production, this “future paper” is praised as “super environmentally friendly”.

But what is really behind stone paper? Currently roughly one fifth of all cut tress are used to make paper, hence such an innovation could indeed hold great potential to reduce worldwide logging.
Stone paper consists of 60-80% calcium carbonate, i.e. pulverized limestone or marble. This raw material has been used in paper production for a long time, for example as a coating of normal paper to make it whiter and smoother. Calcium carbonate is a by-product of stone quarries and is usually considered a waste. The adhesive agent applied in stone paper is polyethylene resin, a widespread plastic also used in plastic bags or drink packaging.

As it happens, the production of stone paper requires only half the energy necessary to produce normal paper. In addition, neither bleach nor acids are used. These ecological benefits have lead to quite some attention for this new product over the past years. The product itself also has some striking characteristics: It is both tear- and waterproof, without needing the oil film regular paper would require.

However, several disadvantages are also inherent to stone paper which lead to a far inferior eco-performance than apparent at first sight. The stone components of the paper decompose after 14 to 18 months of direct sunlight; the plastic components remain and are not recovered nor biodegradable. The recycling potential of stone paper is generally a controversial question. While the producers claim that stone paper can be reused in many areas such as construction, there are critical voices stressing the fact that the plastic and stone components are leached out during recycling and end up in our wastewater. An additional plastic pollution of rivers and oceans is surely the last thing considered desirable from an ecological perspective! If stone paper is not subjected to direct sunlight, it cannot be decomposed at all.

An insightful calculation: in the year 2011, roughly 403 million tonnes of paper were produced worldwide – and the numbers are rising. If all of this paper were replaced by stone paper, and assuming the favourable case of 20% PE-components, that would amount to 81 million tonnes of plastic – at 40% PE-components it would even be 162 million tonnes. Knowing that globally, ‘only’ 250 million tonnes of petroleum-based plastic are produced every year, between one and two thirds more plastic would have to be produced every year to replace paper with stone paper. Assume we would try to substitute this PE with bioplastic, then today’s bioplastic production would have to increase by a factor of 14, i.e. 1,400 percent! About 80% of bioplastic is starch-based. Bearing in mind the devastating effect the rising demand just for the starch-source corn by biogas plants has had in many parts of the world on both rents for agricultural land as well as the corn price itself, this can hardly be considered an option.

Effectively, the production of stone paper replaces a renewable raw material with an indecomposable plastic. Due to the low distribution of this product to date, reliable data on recovery and recycling is inexistent – especially since it seems next to impossible to construe closed recycling loops for a single product.

From the perspective of the Blue Economy, products should be uncompromisingly sustainable and avoid systemic collateral damage to environment, economy and people to the greatest extent possible. In the case of stone paper, the potential contamination of water with PE-particles is simply not acceptable. Citing that the disposal through incineration causes little to no environmental damage is not good enough. ‘Blue’ products have a higher longevity and can be upcycled into a new, higher-value product at the end of their lifecycle – i.e. cascaded just like in an eco-system.

Blue Economy aspires to create value chains and networks which create more for everyone, including more jobs. If regular paper production were replaced by stone paper, jobs would simply shift from one factory to another. Assuming not petroleum-based plastic but rather ‘regional’ bioplastic were utilized, the starch plants would inevitably compete with the production of food – in a world where the amount of arable land is declining!

If stone paper is not the solution, what is a blue alternative in light of the less than ideal eco-balance of wood-based paper? The ideal solution from a Blue Economy perspective would be real biorefineries which utilize biological waste streams completely systemically, sustainably and in a socially responsible, economically attractive way. But despite many promising advancements, an industrial approach has yet to be developed. As long as biorefineries are still improving their processes in pilot plants, the recommendation is simply to resort to unbleached recycled waste paper.

Authors: Markus Haastert, Anne-Kathrin Kuhlemann
© 2014 Blue Economy Solutions GmbH


Blue Economy Hosts Innovative Project Week on Sustainability

Blue Economy Hosts Innovative Project Week on Sustainability

New, transferable and interdisciplinary project week on the subject “Energy Self-Sufficient Classroom” at Lutheran School Berlin Center (ESBZ) 
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As part of its Blue Economy® campaign, non-profit organization ZERAP implemented a new, transferable and interdisciplinary project week on the subject “Energy Self-Sufficient Classroom” at the Lutheran School Berlin Center (ESBZ) in September 2012.

Enthusiastically, 14-year-old student Lydia explains the functional principle of the self-built “sewage” system in her classroom. “It cleans wastewater by conveying it through hoses and buckets with different deposits and plants into an aquarium before it is pumped up into the system again.” This technology is only one of many which the students of the comprehensive and integrative class comprising grades 7 to 9 built by themselves during the project week. The development of these technologies contribute to create an energy self-sufficient classroom.

The idea for the project resulted from a one-year cooperation with the school to renew the science teaching. The aim was to create structures which enable the students to find their own ways of gaining knowledge, develop competences and unfold their individual abilities. This is achieved by working independently, leaving room for experimenting and establishing experience-relations as well as by application of the methods Learning by Teaching and Learning by Engagement , given the fact that in science, everything is connected. Additionally the project week made it possible for the students to experience learning as a pleasant, creative and inspiring process. Further goals of the interdisciplinary project week were to sensitize the pupils towards sustainability, inspire them about related professions, and make the children lose their dread of do-it-yourself-constructions. The interdisciplinary mixture of theory, experiments, lectures and practice also contributed to a better learning success.

On the first two days, the students worked through interdisciplinary study contents especially compiled for the project, including small experiments to consolidate the knowledge. They split into the four groups Water & Plants, Energy Conversion, Solar & Electricity and Climate Change. As the final step of the theoretical phase the students passed on the results of their learning to their classmates according to the Teaching Principle “Students Teach Students”.

On the third day, the practical phase began with lectures by professionals in order to inform the students about job profiles and to familiarize them with the addressed topics. Subsequently, the scholars started to build the constructions with partial guidance from the professionals. In particular the executions were supported voluntarily by solar expert Thomas Stodder of EB-Solarled as well as by physicist Moritz von Buttlar who invented the idea of an LED-lamp made of beverage cans.

Besides the wastewater treatment, the students also built an electric circuit based on 12 Volts including a battery, a charge controller and different connections. It is fed by solar modules on the school roof. Furthermore, the students constructed a 12-Volt room lighting with LED ceiling light and LED reading lights self-brazed of recycled beverage cans as well as a current generator tinkered out of an old bicycle and pieces from the scrap yard. They also insulated the decayed old windows of the building as far as possible with insulation foil and rubber seal, kindly sponsored by tesa, pointed out energy-saving deficits and developed specific actions for the classroom.

The project week was a pilot project. In the next steps, the concept will be revised by the students and made transferable to other classes and schools in order to give them the possibility to experience this innovative project week, just as Lydia and her classmates did.

(German titles)

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UPRISE - The Growth of Blue Economy®

UPRISE – The Growth of Blue Economy®

The first week of September saw Blue Economy Solutions GmbH launch its newest UPRISE project in Germany. 
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Blue Economy in the Consulting World

In other countries, Blue Economy Solutions is working through a network of partner organisations. During the Blue Economy Summit 2013, a training for professionals will be offered to create and strengthen the joint platform for collaboration. If you would like to participate, write to training@blueeconomy.de and we will send you further details as they become available.

Over the past two and a half years, Blue Economy® has published 99 cases of how business can be structured differently: creating more with what is locally available, generating multiple cash flows that ultimately lead to solutions which are not only “better” (environmentally as well as qualitatively) but also “cheaper” (i.e. can out-compete conventional products).

Each case offered insights into a specific area, industry or challenge and how “blue” approaches make a difference and offer a new perspective of numerous opportunities. Through systemic design, solutions emerge in unexpected and surprising industries, cascading resources from one business to the other.

Several large consultancies around the globe have recognized the need to rethink their standard model of downsizing and cost reduction. The more obvious benefits of using less resources and generating new products out of “waste” have lead to the publication of a report on the “circular economy” by McKinsey on behalf of the Ellen McArthur Foundation. It outlines the changes in consumption (towards usage) already visible today, shows how minimized material footprints and longevity benefit companies, and how inputs can be cascaded through industries before returning them to the natural ecosystem. Several case studies prove how even large corporates are beginning to move along this path – albeit in small steps.

On a governmental level, Germany took a first step in the right direction when in October 2011, the “circular flow economy law” was published, focusing waste management on the ideal of full-cycles, reusing every in- and output as a resource. Some great examples such as a closed landfill turned power station (wind, PV and biogas) lead the way. The benefits of this legislation for the waste disposal industry alone are significant: the consultancy Roland Berger published a study on September 9, 2012 estimating growth of 9 billion EUR by 2025 for Germany in this area alone. Imagine the possibilities!

Newest Projects in Germany

To enable Blue Economy® examples to scale up, find imitators in other countries and continents but also to spark blue business models in companies, experts with a profound comprehension of blue principles and experience in establishing similar companies are needed. Blue Economy Solutions GmbH was established in spring of 2011 with precisely this focus. We act as coaches and gold diggers: listen first, expose the opportunities that become apparent, jointly develop solutions and then support implementation – always ensuring full ownership of the projects by the clients. We call this process UPRISE: Utilizing Potential, Realizing Innovations, Stimulating Entrepreneurship.

Most recently in September 2012, Blue Economy Solutions kicked-off an UPRISE process in a small village an hour to the west of Hamburg. The 1,400 inhabitants undertook an intense village renewal process in 2010 and 2011 which reaffirmed their commitment to self-engage and take action to find solutions. Blue Economy® is now providing the projects and ideas on how to use the impressive resources and heritage that is locally available, combined with the striking entrepreneurial spirit, to create an economic stimulus and turn Oberndorf into a role model in Germany. Interestingly, it was a group of private villagers who hired Blue Economy Solutions, since the local government is working under tight budget restraints.

The first results will become tangible by the end of the year, some of the possibilities identified have already found teams eager to hit the ground running. Crucial for the success of all projects is the joint vision of where Oberndorf wants to stand in one or two decades. This includes securing the buy-in and support of all stakeholder groups, even or especially in such a small community. To date, teachers, farmers, mechanics, gardeners, politicians, employers, estate owners and energy providers have all declared their keen interest in the project, while scientists and experts from the Blue Economy® network are looking forward to giving their input to business plans and to guiding and coaching the teams during the early stages of implementation.

Growing the Blue Consulting Network

To spread Blue Economy® thinking and consulting services, we have begun partnering with like-minded companies in several countries. Currently, talks about a collaboration are ongoing with firms in Italy, France and the Netherlands. Our partners intend to market UPRISE projects as a part of their service portfolio using the brand Blue Economy®, supporting the name to spread and awareness of ‘blue’ possibilities among companies and political leaders to increase.

The official launch of this blue consulting network will take place at the Blue Economy Summit 2013 and include a training for professionals. The Summit presents an ideal opportunity to interact with many of the innovators and learn from the projects already implemented. We believe in the power of collaboration and in creating beneficial settings for all involved. This network can be a platform for Blue Economy® to grow significantly in reach and relevance, changing attitudes and how business is done – for the better of all our planet’s inhabitants.

Join us in walking this path!


Publication and dissemination of this text, including translations, require prior written consent. Please contact . All rights reserved.
© Blue Economy Solutions GmbH

Click here to download the complete report as pdf.

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Education for a Sustainable Development within Blue Economy

In Berlin a cooperation with the Blue Economy has resulted in a transferable instruction concept for the area of sciences. 
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In Germany only 16 percent of all teachers feel that they are “well” or “very well” qualified to teach natural sciences education. According to Prof. Dr. Jörg Ramseger (professor of educational sciences and director of the department of educational investigation at the FU Berlin) the children’s motivation for research, from primary education onwards, is not promoted ambitiously enough by educational officers. “Education starts with curiosity”, says Prof. Peter Bieri. From the early years onwards, children should be motivated in the sciences, because later on, they will mostly lose this interest.

At the Evangelische Gesamtschule Berlin Zentrum (Integrated Evangelical School of Berlin Centre, esbz), a cooperation with the Blue Economy has resulted in a transferable instruction concept for the area of sciences.

The esbz was founded as a reform school with a radical change in learning concepts. As an autonomous school it aims to set an example regarding viable developments. The school is committed in a special way to the ambitions of AGENDA 21, hence it is also called “AGENDA-School”.

The motivation of the team surrounding Mandy Voggenauer, sciences teacher at the school, is based on active and cooperative learning, as well as creative and critical thinking. The teachers take over the role of a moderator within the learning process, encouraging the children to answer questions, to elaborate on a result and to reach solutions independently.

Now, after a one-year-long pilot period, the first results capable of being replicated are available and can be transferred to other schools.

As a first step, the students elaborate on new perspectives based on some fables by Gunter Pauli, in order to learn how everything is interconnected in science. These fables promote systemic thinking and emotional intelligence, the understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of others. Thus, they recognize and respect differences, manage their emotions more effectively and interact respectfully with others. These are crucial aptitudes in the children’s lives, enabling them to cultivate a harmonious relationship with themselves, others and their environment.

Different practical projects are carried out, based on the fables. The production of fertilizers and soil from food waste, plant cultivation, energy generation, flying objects and many more, enabling the students to experience in practice the knowledge acquired in theory.

This open structure quickly provoked a series of socio-political questions: Where does our food come from today? Why are the Earth´s resources used in such an inefficient way? What can each of us do to make some changes at grassroots level? In this way the students better understand and absorb the subjects and their backgrounds, bearing in mind that “education is what is left behind when we forget what we have learned”. (Edward Frederick Lindley Wood).

At the first Parent Campus, the students gave an impressive display of what it means to present their own knowledge and opinions, becoming involved in scientific discussion with their parents.

At the same time, the basic curriculum must not be neglected. “I always care about integrating the curricular subjects into the projects in order to not provide less for the children, but rather give it a finishing touch”, says Mandy Voggenauer.

Now the project at the esbz will enter the next level. During the summer a whole week will be devoted to connecting the philosophy of the Blue Economy and sciences to the elementary school curriculum.

In theory and practical experience, the students will again be taught the sensibility of sustainability, as well as becoming acquainted with different professional fields.

The project week “Autonomous Classroom” is a transferable and multi-disciplinary instructional concept which aims to motivate the students beyond the framework of the regular lessons with its interdisciplinary approach. A systemic subject will be the base to become better aquainted with the details of some other subjects such as German, English, mathematics, sciences and social science.

Markus Haastert, president of ZERI Germany and Blue Economy, has become a committed partner of the esbz. In this way, the school could become a pioneer where “an educational module for the next generation will be developed from this economically, ecologically and socially visionary concept”, affirms Margret Rasfeld, director of the esbz.

Click here to download the complete report as pdf.

Blue Economy Conversations in Colombia

Blue Economy Conversations in Colombia

Report on ZERI and sustainable development in San Gil. By Haiko Pieplow.
1339057607 Blue Economy Conversations in Colombia We Blue

In October 2011, Beatriz Toloza from the Private University of San Gil met ZERI Germany member Haiko Pieplow from Berlin on a Central American women farmers conference in Mexico, and talked to him about projects going on in the Santander district. This involves local groups and especially women cooperatives for development of an economy based on solidarity. At a ZERI workshop for the production of Terra Preta, the idea to develop joint projects was born.

For ZERI, the influences from Colombia have a crucial significance. In 1984, charismatic inventor Paolo Lugari started to implement an innovative concept of recultivation of a rainforest on 8000 hectares of desert in Las Gaviotas in Vichada, a district close to the Brazilian frontier. The ZERI Pavillion, which gained a lot of attention at the World EXPO in Hanover in 2000, would have been impossible to achieve without the knowledge from Colombia. The director of ZERI Latin America, Carlos Bernal, played an important role in that project.

At the end of February 2012, a meeting in Colombia was arranged. ZERI had been invited by the University of San Gil to discuss the Blue Economy. San Gil is located 400 kms north-east of Bogotá, a young city of 50,000 inhabitants in a coffee-growing region and with a growing tourism sector. There is a focus on sustainable development so that a better welfare system for the local population can be provided. For example, a local women’s initiative has successfully developed a privately funded reforestation project in Barichara which combines the local knowledge of trees with the assigning of godparents to children. Furthermore there are numerous forest gardens producing coffee, cocoa and other fruits using ecological techniques. The sugar cane cultivation unlocks potential that until now has remained untapped. The municipality of San Gil is very interested in a sustainable waste concept, because the conventional solutions of landfills and incineration do not offer satisfactory solutions.

ZERI made it possible for the project director for Latin America, Jackeline Martínez from the Institute of applied mass flow at the environmental campus of Birkenfeld, Germany, to be invtited to the Blue Economy discussions. She reported the German experiences of zero emissions projects as well as exchange options for students and their professional training to become innovative entrepreneurs.

Gunter Pauli supported the event by establishing contact with to Paolo Lugari, as well as Carlos Bernal and the University of San Gil. The possibility of generating local income by cultivating edible mushrooms using waste from coffee processing were received with great interest. The successful business model by Chido Govera, of cultivating shiitake mushrooms on coffee grounds and other agricultural waste, could become a new source of income for women in San Gil.

The Blue Economy has been met with a lot of interest when visiting projects by the University of San Gil in the Santander district, as well as during discussions with students, teachers, local entrepreneurs and the municipal authorities for the environment.

To download the complete report as pdf, please click here.