Berlin’s sustainable lifestyle is our emerging future

Workshop on making your kitchen sustainable, Berlin, 4th August 2018

Berlin is to an environmentally conscious, renewable energy, sustainable ecologically friendly lifestyle what Tokyo’s Harajuku Girls used to be to fast fashion. The pioneer, the path breaker, the evidence of quality of life balanced with conservation. I envy Berliners their city. It is a world city and its still affordable.

Bio is mainstream, not an organic premium, and at the airport the plastic bottle of water was priced 4 times as much as water in a recyclable cardboard container.

There’s no mountains to climb in order to live with a smaller footprint, more leisure time, the calm re-ordering of priorities, the half day off in the sun taking the toddlers to the public fountain to splash and play. This was my introduction to Berlin.

City dwellers would recognize the simplified hyperbole of a short term visitor attempting to grasp the entire sense of the city in a few short days, but forward looking companies, startups, spaces, and people abound. If a “Silicon Valley” of Germany emerges, it will be Berlin.

Rocket Internet is already headquartered there as are any number of startups. The ecosystem is so mature that its hiving off into narrower and narrower specialities. All of which is a good thing to happen as the range and diversity of sustainable solutions that meet the bar of a bunch of EU certifications and regulations is now wide enough and broad enough to show clear patterns of consumer behaviour transformation.

Its almost like Berlin is the living example of the Post Climate Hoax Adapt Immediately era, and its clearly an economically viable and feasible one. And nobody’s apologizing for eating less meat and more vegetables.

One Comment

  • Your comments bring to mind David Owen’s 2004 New Yorker article, Green Manhattan, where he wrote, in part:

    Most Americans, including most New Yorkers, think of New York City as an ecological nightmare, a wasteland of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams, but in comparison with the rest of America it’s a model of environmental responsibility. By the most significant measures, New York is the greenest community in the United States, and one of the greenest cities in the world. The most devastating damage humans have done to the environment has arisen from the heedless burning of fossil fuels, a category in which New Yorkers are practically prehistoric. The average Manhattanite consumes gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn’t matched since the mid-nineteen-twenties, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. Eighty-two per cent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot. That’s ten times the rate for Americans in general, and eight times the rate for residents of Los Angeles County. New York City is more populous than all but eleven states; if it were granted statehood, it would rank fifty-first in per-capita energy use.

    “Anyplace that has such tall buildings and heavy traffic is obviously an environmental disaster—except that it isn’t,” John Holtzclaw, a transportation consultant for the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, told me. “If New Yorkers lived at the typical American sprawl density of three households per residential acre, they would require many times as much land. They’d be driving cars, and they’d have huge lawns and be using pesticides and fertilizers on them, and then they’d be overwatering their lawns, so that runoff would go into streams.” The key to New York’s relative environmental benignity is its extreme compactness. Manhattan’s population density is more than eight hundred times that of the nation as a whole. Placing one and a half million people on a twenty-three-square-mile island sharply reduces their opportunities to be wasteful, and forces the majority to live in some of the most inherently energy-efficient residential structures in the world: apartment buildings. It also frees huge tracts of land for the rest of America to sprawl into.

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