Rethinking Plastic: ANSC Salon explores multifaceted perspectives on the plastic problem

Plastic for eternity? A salon of the Arts and Nature Social Club at the Hotel de Rome Berlin highlights the devastating effects of plastic and future-oriented solutions

ANSC Rethinking Plastic Hotel de Rome

Author: Julia Schindler

Plastic. Plastic. Plastic. A material that has permeated our everyday lives, our society and, above all, our ecosystem. This ubiquitous plastic, whose origins lie in complex chemical compounds, is one of the greatest challenges of our time. What was celebrated as revolutionary in the 1960s - light, durable, flexible and inexpensive - has turned out to be an ecological disaster within sixty years, with far-reaching consequences for the environment, health and social justice.

While plastic as a term encompasses all plastic materials, microplastics refer to small particles with a size of less than five millimeters. These invisible enemies of our environment can now be found everywhere: in rivers and seas, in the air and even in our blood. The film "Plastic Fantastic" cites that there are 500 times more plastic particles in the oceans than there are stars in our galaxy - a frightening statistic that illustrates the magnitude of the problem.

Source & Copyright Yaseen Salem

Arts and Nature Social Club initiates Rethinking Plastic Salon

To draw attention to this pressing issue and discuss solutions, the Arts and Nature Social Club (ANSC) last Monday an interactive salon in the venerable Hotel de Rome. Under the title "Rethinking Consumption: From Plastic Fantasies to Circular Realities" four diverse guests from the fields of film, entrepreneurship and consulting came together to share their perspectives and solutions for a more environmentally friendly tomorrow. Moderated by Jörg Geier and Fabian König, both on the board of the ANSC, the event offered in-depth discussions and interactive elements for the audience.

The evening opened with excerpts from the award-winning film "Plastic Fantastic" by the renowned filmmaker Isa Willinger. The film, which is celebrated as one of the most important climate films of the year, bluntly shows the biggest problem of microplastics: the impossible degradation and disposal of the material. Today, plastic ends up in nature, in remote industrial areas and finally in our oceans, where it decomposes into microparticles and enters the human body via our food. What is special: in her film, Isa Willinger also gives a voice to those who often go unheard, such as factory workers from socially disadvantaged areas or residents of the strongholds of the plastics industry in the USA.

Source & Copyright Yaseen Salem

Innovative approaches and concrete solutions against the omnipresence of plastic

Another discussion partner of the evening was Felix Cornehl, Plastics Policy Lead at Systemiq. The company identifies and invests in innovations that can drive critical system change. He highlighted that 70% of greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuels and that CO2 emissions from industry must be reduced to zero by mid-century.

"It is clear to everyone that we are rapidly approaching planetary boundaries" - Felix Cornehl, Systemiq 

With Felix Cornehl, the salon moved from an analytical approach to the question of how greater awareness can be created in politics and society. The challenges are immense: "Today, two billion people on our planet, especially in rural areas and developing countries, have no access to food and clean drinking water. How can these basic needs be met without producing even more plastic? Felix Cornehl sees room for systemic solutions and fair ecosystems through innovative solutions and transformation.

Karsten Hirsch, Founder and CEO of Plastic Fischer, continued the dialogue. His company focuses on combating river plastic to prevent it from entering the oceans. Plastic Fischer has already achieved impressive success through simple, inexpensive methods such as building floating barriers from locally available materials. The focus is particularly on the heavily polluted Ganges in India.

"You don't need high tech to fight the plastic problem" - Karsten Hirsch, Plastic Fischer

Since its founding five years ago, Plastic Fischer has collected 1500 tons of river plastic and created 80 local jobs. However, cooperation with the governments of the countries that produce the most plastic remains a major challenge, as they are often corrupt and show little interest in change.

Source & Copyright Yaseen Salem

Community action and local initiatives as a proven solution

Anna Wasilewski, founder of the neighborhood initiative Litterpicker, brought another valuable perspective to the discussion. Litterpicker organizes clean-up campaigns in Berlin neighborhoods, daycare centers and schools and raises awareness of the garbage problem. What began during the Corona pandemic in 2021 with an initial meeting of 20 people in Wedding, now brings over 200 people together for a clean-up.

"We don't talk about problems, but about solutions and approach the matter with a large portion of fun" - Anna Wasilewski, Litterpicker

By working with major Berlin companies, associations and parties, Litterpicker has made a lasting impact. Particularly noteworthy is the commitment to combating cigarette butts, which make up a large proportion of the collected garbage and contain microplastics. Finally, the question of how to break up dysfunctional markets was discussed. Plastic is cheaper than sustainable alternatives, which makes it attractive to a fast-consuming society. One approach would be to impose taxes on the plastic parts that have so far been tax-free and to reform the entire system of governments, plastic companies and NGOs as well as the recycling cycle. Action must also be taken in the EU, especially in Germany.

The path to a plastic-free future?

The fishbowl discussion at the end of the evening provided space for open questions and food for thought from the invited guests and the audience. How can a rethink of plastic consumption be achieved at all levels? Creating a common vision is one way: NGOs, governments and industry must work together to find sustainable solutions.

The evening impressively demonstrated that everyone can take action to make a difference. Three Berlin companies in the field of the "circular economy" - Circular Berlin, Cradle to Cradle NGO and ProjectTogether – were invited to present their visions and projects. A societal rethink is necessary. Less punishment and pressure, but emotional and experimental learning must make people feel what will happen to our planet if we continue as before. In the end, the speakers agreed that we have to change the rules of the game. It is not enough to just appeal to the mind; the heart must also be reached.

The Salon was supported by the following partners: Hotel de Rome, Fulbright Germany, Top Tier Impact (TTI), Haus von Eden und Clever Elements

NEWSLETTER
REGISTRATION

Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

[ninja_form id = 3]

Related topics
Values ​​index
Values ​​index Corona update: This is how our values ​​are changing due to the crisis The value index shows the current top 10 in changing values ​​in our society. Editor Peter Wippermann explains ...
sustainable coffee cup to go Klean Kanteen
Sustainable coffee cups to go: These cups keep your hot drink warm for a long time and are leak-proof Hot, hotter, hottest: Sustainable coffee cups to go are not only a stylish accessory, but the...
Let's Flip - when the community decides on sustainable flops Investigative journalism with integration of the community for a better future - like the online magazine Flip ...