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Webinar: Is “zero waste” really a zero?

Live stream: 8 June 2017
Recording of the live stream available!


Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. No trash is sent to landfills or incinerators. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature. But can “zero waste” really be zero? And is green lifestyle affordable for everyone?

Ieva Lace, world explorer and development project enthusiast working for several international NGOs in West Afrika and South-East Asia, and Maija Kale from Alumniportal Deutschland challenge the concept of “zero waste” in this webinar and answer questions like:  

  • What should I know currently about green initiatives? 
  • Is “zero waste” and other green initiatives the silver bullet towards green lifestyle?
  • What are the current trends and why they are economically beneficial for the society?

Watch the recording of the webinar on zero waste and learn about the current trends in industry like hydroponics and permaculture and their impact on overall global green initiatives.



  • Expert Expert
  • Moderator Moderator

Ieva Lace

Ieva is a world explorer, development project enthusiast, a MSc. graduate of sociology and Global studies from University of Freiburg, Germany and FLASCO, Argentina. Ieva`s project experience is mainly in West Africa and SE Asia, where she has worked with several international NGOs, focusing on social entrepreneurship and social development. While working as a project manager in hospital in Sierra Leone, Ieva was giving special attention to nutrition problems and food chain behind the health problems.

Maija Kale

Maija is a graduate of Global Studies programme, which took place in Germany (Freiburg), South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal) and India (New Delhi) and the representative of Alumniportal Deutschland in Latvia. Maija is working with business sustainability issues, innovation, bio economy and circular economy. She is interested in topics such big data, gender equality and multicultural understanding. The climate change, however, puts pressure on all of us to act to decrease waste and use resources in a more sustainable way. But how to avoid greenwashing? Is the 'green' green? You will be able to discuss it during the webinar that Maija will moderate.


                                                                            Watch the video recording!

How can I watch the recording of this webinar?

To take part, you have to be registered with the Alumniportal Deutschland, which is free of charge. Next, join the group “Nachhaltigkeit / Sustainability”. Clicking on the button “Open session” in the section "Webinar" will take you directly to the webinar space at the date and time specified. In this group, you will also be able to watch a video recording of the webinar afterwards

June 2017


Maija Kale
16 June 2017

Dear All,
thank you so much for your positive comments. Ms Ieva Lace has prepared a summary of the webinar, and you can find it below. If you have ideas how to continue working on this topic, please, do not hesitate to contact me as well! Yours - Maija

Webinar “Is zero waste really a zero”? 8.06.2017

Dear participants of the webinar “Is zero waste really a zero”?

A week is over since we spoke on the webinar about zero waste and how is it going? I managed to use less plastic bottles for water in my daily life. Small step, but at least a step. On bigger scale this webinar started new ideas on more global and more web initiatives since you all were so active in the chat we had.

Before we get to ideas what will happen next, here you can find brief summary of what we managed to speak during the webinar.

We were quite international group, where:

Germany was represented by 8 participants
Latvia – 12 participants
Mexico – 6 participants
Vietnam – 4 participants
And 16 individuals from all over the world like Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Turkey and all I believe the most furthest countries that plastic could still reach.

Current green debate

- What are the current hot topics in green lifestyle on micro and macro level scale? In short – social media posts with newest discoveries for alternative materials (like leader made from mushrooms, fiber from plants etc); species or methods dealing with pollution – like warms that eat plastic. However on macro level the current trends are – food production with less energy consumption like hydroponics, permaculture and aquaponics (read more about food industry - http://bigbetinitiative.com/the-bets/a-menu-for-2030/)

- In the chat we could see that the concerns are about the United States position towards the “Paris agreement” and how will the rest of the world react towards it. Even though its hard to predict, the webinar participants started to rise questions – what changes in the law on national level should be done in order to reach changes towards the topic. It was agreed that national legislation enforcement towards green initiatives are essential.

Countries initiatives

Examples of countries where given, like:
- France, who last year abounded plastic use in supermarkets (read more - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets)
- Developing countries like India, Kenia is announcing similar statements, however with big concerns of the project realization and realistic alternatives (read more about Rwanda experience - http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/2/25/rwanda-plastic-bag-ban.html)
- Finland and project RESCUE, focusing on initiatives and enforcement that unused supermarket and restaurant food can be still used (read more - https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jun/06/the-circular-economy-enters-the-world-stage-with-finland-leading-the-way)

Are the changes possible?

- It was very noticeable that the webinar participants are keen solution seekers and truly wonder what can be done to reach changes in any kind of level. This activity from you, the participants, confirmed the common current tendency - individuals, organizations are seeking alternatives for more sustainable lifestyle despite political turbulences. However still universal solution have not been reached, there is still a lot issues on every persons life even for the most advanced ones.
- A question appeared - do you think zero waste mindset can be applied to all countries? To answer this is not easy, but I believe that I have seen very determinant green activists in every country where I have been and it gives me courage to answer yes. In the same time – easy, cheap, durable alternatives have to be available (not even to mention basic human needs like safe drinking water, air, food etc). (read more - https://www.centreforglobaleducation.com/?gclid=CPyY_OvGwNQCFQ0tGQod5VELRA)

- It was agreed that in the current “change of mindset” game are we all in – producers, consumers, government, school teachers and children. The Kenya participant mentioned that its important to create consumer awareness, because most of the waste is produced through consumer behavior eg. buying things in bulk, also, producers should be obliged to take care of their waste, such as plastic bottle producers. It’s a good point and there are central European countries like Germany who partly has this mindset. In the same time as we can imagine – there are not only mindset issues but also economic concerns behind (read more - http://storyofstuff.org/

- An interesting tendency – who is the driving force for daily activities regards zero waste and green lifestyle? How comes it is more female oriented? (i.e., Denmark case, Latvia case and majority top bloggers are female). Can we assume that this is gender oriented topic or is it related to female nature to nourish environment around herself? (read more - https://www.treehugger.com/green-home/10-zero-waste-bloggers-you-should-know.htmlrhttps://issuu.com/n_wind/docs/nwind_12_online). Perhaps this is an interesting anthropology discussion and some common tendencies can be found.

Some take-away:

- Interdisciplinary idea from one of the participants was presented - we could apply the “4 E” related to road safety to zero waste: Education (awareness raising), Enforcement (enforcing ban), Engineering (e.g.bioplastics), Empowerment/Encouragement (subsidies from government, financial benefits).

- We don’t have to necessary step away from urban lifestyle to be more environmentally caring. If you have your thermo cup and you buy your coffee in a cafe, which is zero waste cafe - why not? We can live environmentally friendly and without loosing the technical progress that humans have achieved, rather use digital achievements to help us (read more https://issuu.com/n_wind/docs/nwind_12_online)
- being a part of social groups - zero waste, recycling, upcyciling movement is very trendy. However even more trendy would be to investigate and really require recycling opportunities in local neighborhood, municipality. Think global, act local - an old saying but still applicable.
- Countries (meaning society in general) are not necessary ready for mind shift regards economy and environment, however people, individuals are. That’s the closest road for changes. And perhaps zero waste even shouldn’t be a zero, because there will be no waste in a first place.

Next steps

As you could read, we had a very lively chat with wonderful discussions from you and insides from our moderator Maija Kale. It was inspiring to experience the readiness and keen spirit around this topic. Therefore the most trilling news – we are ready to initiate Alumniportal Deutshcland zero waste group, where all of will be able to share knowledge, articles, discussions and to challenge each other to make concrete actions to make this world a better place! Like having a zero waste checklist or tips on zero waste from the alumni in their daily life – sharing a photo and ideas in different categories. Coming up soon!

It was my deepest pleasure to be part of this process,

Best, Ieva

M.Sc. Ieva Lace
+ 371 25479582

Vijai K Sharma
14 June 2017

I attended the Webinar on Zero Waste on Jun 08, 2017. I am thankful for getting this opportunity. Thanks to the Coordinator and the Expert. I posted a post on Facebook (and also on Twitter separately) about this webinar, which attracted a few comments.
2. During the Webinar you had mentioned whether Alumniportal Deutschland should take it up. Well, that is a very good idea. It will be in the fitness of things. At least a large number of countries should come forward in overall interest and get united in efforts for the 3 R’s viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and even Avoid the item, considering the environmental effects. A lead has to be provided & people should sink their differences on such issues, for their resolution. There are problems of changing person’s minds, considerations of financial matters, being honestly involved, actions from Governments and so on. It is an important and big subject and in my opinion, appropriate and coordinated actions are required.

9 June 2017

Hola chicas! @GriseldaArmendáriz y @NeryReyna, si me encantaron sus comentarios, hay que mirar alto, como decía alguien en el webinar, así de loco parecia que las mujeres pudieran votar. Hay que trabajar para ir introduciendo esa perspectiva en los países latinomericanos. Ojala podamos unir esfuerzos de los granitos de arena que estamos introduciendo en nuestros países.

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