Zero Waste: A Lifestyle, A Solution, A Card Game?


09 Nov 2020

Written by

ZWE Staff


Meet Gabriela Constantinescu from Playlearn, game designer of SWAPS: a Zero Waste Game

Going zero waste demands well thought through strategy, collaboration, discussion, but it should also be fun! Which is why it comes as no surprise to us that zero waste has been made into a game called SWAPS! 

We were fortunate enough to get to speak to Gabriela, who decided to bring together her two passions: game development and zero waste living, in order to create SWAPS! This new card game teaches players how to become zero waste with some healthy competition involved too. If you thought that becoming zero waste was challenging and too ambitious, this creative alternative proves it is both fun and educational at the same time. 

Our interview with Gabriela explains just how SWAPS works and her motivation to create the game in the first place…

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your interest in the field of zero waste and sustainability and the idea behind SWAPS?

I decided to go zero waste 3 years ago, after having shared a co-living space with 20 people. This was an opportunity for me to witness our day to day impact on the environment at a slightly bigger scale than I was used to. I started doing a lot of research and made a rather sudden transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. Many of my friends were telling me that they would love to make changes as well, but they didn’t know where to start from and lacked the time or the mental space to do research.

In my professional life, I am a game designer. When I began my zero waste journey, I started to feel there was a conflict between my work and my day to day life, because all the boardgames came wrapped up in plastic, were laminated with plastic, and had many other plastic components. So I started to wonder – what if we created a plastic-free game that would teach players how to lead a lower impact zero waste lifestyle?

  1. How do you play the game and what are the main rules? 

In short, SWAPS is a drafting game, meaning that each player is being dealt the same number of cards. Players then select one card to keep, and pass the rest to their left. This continues until all cards are taken. Basically, at the end of each round, every player will have a collection of 10 SWAPS in front of them. There are 8 categories of cards in the game like ‘Bathroom’, ‘Kitchen’ or ‘To Go’ and they each score differently. For example, ‘To Go’ scores instant points, but there are also categories that score more at the end of the round if you are patient enough to build them up. Each player has access to how each category scores at all times during the game and chooses what cards to play accordingly. 

  1. Who’s the best audience for the game and what are some of the lessons it could teach us?

SWAPS is suitable for those who want to start making changes towards sustainability in their lifestyle, but don’t have the time to do research and curate the content. SWAPS comes with a guide to a zero waste lifestyle and thus offers them the structure and content needed to start such a journey. It’s also appropriate for those who are more advanced in their sustainable lifestyle journey and who want to share their best practices with their friends and family in a fun and more relaxed setting. 

  1. When will the game be available?

We are currently looking for international resellers or zero waste shop owners who want to pre-order the game and support the production of its first batch. The best part is that SWAPS is going to be printed on 100% recycled cardboard, with eco-friendly, non-toxic ink and wrapped in a reusable bag. We hope to be successful in this endeavour and make the game available soon, while also carefully curating all the components of the game to be as sustainable as they can possibly be. This is definitely our greatest challenge yet!

You can find out more about Gabriela’s work and SWAPS: A Zero Waste game here