Zero Waste Europe is happy to introduce the blog series “Meet our members”. Through this series of monthly interviews we want to give you a chance to get to know our members and the work they are doing.
Meet Lorraine Wenzel from Zero Waste Austria
Hi Lorraine, can you give us a brief introduction to Zero Waste Austria’s focus?
Zero Waste Austria was founded by Helene Patterman as a project in 2015. We have been a registered association since 2017.
In a nutshell: We are promoting Zero Waste concepts and companies and are doing projects in Austria, both online and offline, in real life networking, in order to connect and strengthen the Austrian Zero Waste community. Through monthly workshops and presentations we spread the Zero Waste word and show how one can easily integrate less waste practices into his daily life.
By now we are cooperating with over 40 different companies and have around 200 members. We’ve been organising countless workshops and are working on four bigger projects at the moment.
How long have you been in the field and what got you into (Zero) Waste?
It all started with watching documentaries about plastic pollution and Food Waste. I was an emotional mess afterwards and decided that if there’s no help from above, I want to act myself.
So I’ve started living the actual Zero Waste lifestyle 2 years ago. After literally sorting my daily life out, finding routines and less waste solutions, I wanted to become an active member of the movement. That’s how I met Helene and got started with Zero Waste Austria.
What is your current role in your organisation?
PR (online and offline) and Communications.
Tell us more about one ongoing campaign/activity you’re working on?
One is Austria’s first Zero Waste Family Challenge, where five families are reducing their waste up to 50% within half a year. It’s an offline challenge, where we provide workshops and are there to help and answer questions. The project will be finished this summer with a movie summing up it all up. We will move the challenge to an online project, open for everyone, then. It’s a Zero Waste Austria project on behalf of MUTTER ERDE.
Another one is the Zero Waste hotel guideline in cooperation with different hotels all over Austria. We are developing strategies to reduce waste, water and plastic. Short: To go easy on resources in the tourism area. The guide will be published by 2020.
If there was one thing that you would like your organisation to be known for, what would it be?
As the number one port of call for municipalities, politicians, companies and individuals for Zero Waste in Austria.
How would you describe the growth of the Zero Waste movement in your country? What is your perspective for the future?
Especially as politics have started taking action, the whole topic is in the spotlight and growing daily. Anyways metropolis like Vienna still have a big advantage: There’s an offer to implement Zero Waste in daily life. If you are living on the countryside, it will be much harder to reduce waste. Often packaging free stores are missing and buying a shampoo bar or a bamboo toothbrush is mostly impossible without driving lots of kilometres.
That’s why my personal utopia is that policy is finally waking up. Of course, it’s great and at the moment the only way, that people are taking actions themselves, but it’s not the solution of the problem.
The solution would be reforming industries and lobby-ism to an extend that Zero Waste is the norm and not an exception. To an extend that the environment and the world’s inhabitants are treated like money is now. And they better be quick to let that change happen.
You can find more about Zero Waste Austria and their work here.