Zero Waste Europe’s People’s Design Lab team recently organised an Innovation Jam in Barcelona. BAU (Centre Universitari de Disseny de Barcelona), a leading university of design focused on social transformation within the design field, hosted the event on the 2nd and 3rd of December.

The goal of this 2 days event was to provide knowledge and experience to the participants so that they can become change agents in their field. Moreover, Make Love, Not Waste intends to be a connections hub for those who are seeking solutions to sustainable transformations and actions.


During the morning of Friday the 2nd, students and interested people were dropping in to the exhibition which was hosting a range of different activities. An exhibition of the winning products in each People’s Design Lab category (Russian Doll, Bin Again, Weakest Link and Open Award) was located in the center to emphasise the focus of the coming innovation JAM.

There was a space with a large table full of residual waste in order to upcycle and create something else out of it. Maybe a piece of art? Or a useful tool? Artists lost themselves in the waste (tickets, broken umbrellas, coffee cups and polystyrene trays) and let the inspiration flow.

The Veggie - Zero Waste Food Corner, all organised and cooked by Cecilia and Liz (Facebook /ceciliagz), offered several meals prepared with local products and love such as veggie sandwiches, apple cakes, chocolate brownies, homemade lemonade, spinaches quiche, tasty salad and irresistible guacamole tortillas. These were some of the tempting goodies that participants, staff, experts and jury could enjoy over the two days.


Yolanda Morcillo (Expert in the Waste Prevention department of the Agència de Residus de Catalunya) highlighted the 5Rs to follow: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. Moreover, she emphasised the need to focus on the life cycle of products from when they are first designed. Also Yolanda has introduced the circular economy concept of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and how the region of Catalunya is moving in this direction. One of their initiatives is to promote eco-design among designers by launching an Award of Ecodesign in Catalunya to stand out products following eco-design criterias.

Víctor Mitjans (Director of Studies at Rezerø, the Catalan Foundation for Waste Prevention and Responsible Consumption) did a throwback to the very first inventor of the “single use” concept which inspired King Camp Gillette in 1903 to start a business based on disposables that is still running today. The idea of disposables combined with consumerist patterns began with the exponential rates of generation of waste. As with Yolanda, Víctor underlined the need to redesign products considering the resources used at any moment so that materials don’t miss the chance to be reincorporated again into the circle.


Carla Heras, a trainee primary school teacher, funded one year ago the Zero Waste Barcelona movement. She started this community so that citizens from Barcelona could share their best Zero Waste practises in the framework of their city. With her team, ZWB is preparing to launch a set of workshops to facilitate individuals who look forward to give zero waste lifestyle a try.

Make Love Not Waste became a hub for people who think about solutions and work on their day-to-day to transform the society in the framework of their jobs. We were lucky to have the presence of Yvelisse Ramírez, the founder of La Ecocosmopolita, Jack Span, founder of Urbangrowup and, Nada Tozija, the founder and lead architect of Transfodesign so that they shared their tasks and point of views with participants and experts.


The kick off of the Innovation Jam started with an activity in which 4 groups formed by participants and experts had to think about innovative ways to tackle each of the wasteful products. The aim of it, was to get inspiration on innovative ideas to solve the production of great amount of waste that the four products generate nowadays.

Depending on their personal and professional interests, participants gathered into two main type of groups: technical solutions, systems and logistics improvements and communication campaigns.

On Saturday, during the whole day, groups work very hard. Participants were enthusiastic to find the best solution to their chosen problem, as well as, thrilled to find the most innovative project in the framework of all the knowledge acquired.
Creative people combined with waste from tickets, umbrellas, food packaging and coffee pods brought original ideas such as:

  • A new phone app to prevent paper bills so that a wireless connection sends it directly to a personal bill account. Disconnected from the bank account.

  • A rental of umbrellas so people who subscribe to the service can pick it up whenever it rains without the need of carrying one always with them.

  • A science fiction video combining love, waste and coffee pods, inspired on the World of Wars, ending up with a link to a petition addressed to Nespresso so that a higher rate of coffee capsules would be recycled taking full responsibility of the waste their products generate.

  • An awareness campaign for saying no to tickets, with a promotional video ready to spread all over social media..

  • A deposit system addressed to Veritas, ecological chain of supermarket, who are still using polystyrene trays for food

The criteria for choosing the best project was:

  • Solution that creates positive impact and solves an enormous quantity of waste production (prevention, reduction or reuse)

  • Feasibility and implementation of the project

  • Potential partners who could engage to support the project

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The winning project was an idea around the combination of the sharing economy concept combined with renting service, the idea of a good quality umbrella that can be picked up in the rainy days became the most standing out project for the jury. It would reduce waste as consumers would not need to keep buying umbrellas and the system would provide a repairable service so that the product can go back to the service once it is repaired. Moreover, it would promote positive changes in societal mindsets from a product-based purchase (based on owning a product) towards a service-based one (based on a leasing system).

We would like to thank all people who showed up and found something of interest in the show. A big thank to the participants who believe in it. We can’t wait to keep spreading this movement around Europe. Extraordinary Barcelona, let’s keep these good vibes alive!

Finally, we would like to thank all the team of volunteers who worked for Make Love, Not Waste to be real:

To all the volunteers who used their creativity to set up the place, who carried out stuff back and forth, who helped with their time and decided to sleep less because they believe in the project... THANK YOU!

BAU University of Design, the most environmentally committed!:

Thanks to the director, the team of professors involved, the communications department, the team of BAU TV and the volunteers of space design who helped to make this happen!

Jury, not easily persuaded, and pitch mentor!:
Blanca Callén Moreu (Professor and Researcher at BAU Design University Center)
Delphine Lévi-Alvarès (Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe)
Guillem Ventura (Film Director at HIC&NUNC and Environmentalist)

Iñaki Eguiarte (Mentor Storyteller, works at IED Barcelona)

Organization of the event, we are all allergic to plastic:
Carlotta Cataldi (Graphic Facilitator freelancer) Instagram @simplicitywithoutreduction
Camille Duran (The Green Exchange) - Listen to the best podcasts about circular economy at
Ana Metz (Design that combines business and sustainability on a WIN-WIN-WIN method) Instagram @ana.metz
Anna Queralt (People’s Design Lab Project Manager, works at Zero Waste Europe)

Supporters, big thanks!:
Mortiz (for your tasty glass bottled beer)
Roll’Eat (for the Boc’N’Rolls we could give to experts, jury and winners!)

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