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Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills or incinerators.

We got the chance to talk to the team behind Techstars Startup Weekend Paris, about their motivations to host this event with the thematic of Zero Waste. Here’s what they shared:

1. What was your thinking behind doing a Startup Weekend, Zero Waste edition? What did you want to achieve?

I saw a lot of Startup Weekends and love the people, the state of mind and the magic happening there. But despite the fact that we are at the heart of the innovation, I saw few projects and people deeply concerned about sustainable development. I wanted to help changing that, so we formed a team of awesome organizers and we built this edition.

“Zero Waste” is a concept that most people understand immediately, it’s a fast growing movement, and a perfect way to get people concretely interested in sustainable development.

Behind the Zero Waste philosophy there is a new way of consuming and living. This more sustainable way needs a new sector full of initiatives and businesses that starts to flourish : the circular economy sector. We deeply believe that there is a lot of business opportunities coming with the rise of circular economy. We wanted to help people and projects going in this sustainable direction.

2. How did you ensure that the theme of circular economy and zero waste was a philosophy throughout your event?

We started by making this event zero waste itself ! The idea was to show that it is possible to have an entire event hosting more than 100 people without producing almost any waste.

We then tried to involve participants in this, explaining it to them in advance and asking them to take their own pens and their own cloth table-napkin, because we won’t provide disposable ones. We also explained a bit more the concept of circular economy, and made a conference about it a week before the SW.

Finally we looked for sponsors that have real interest in sustainable development, because for now almost all companies practice green washing, but very few started to take the problem seriously.

3. What was your highlight from the weekend? What was most challenging?

We were very happy to see the quality of the ideas on the Friday night’s pitchs. All the ideas proposed by the participants were also totally in the circular economy philosophy.

The participants were very interested about sustainable development and the projects developed during the weekend were highly qualitative. I found it awesome to gather in the same place a lot of people and energies interested in the same goal.

Everything went very well, and we didn’t really had challenging parts at the end, even washing the dishes in team for 100 people was quite fun!

4. Do you have any top tips / best practices for anyone who is keen to host a more environmentally-friendly Startup Weekend?

Of course 🙂 Regardless of the Startup Weekend’s theme, you can organize a Techstars Startup Weekend without generating almost any waste. For us it was actually easier than I thought.

I wrote an article with more information about how we did it, and am available to help or to receive more tips. 2 coming Parisian Techstars Startup Weekends will already adopt a zero waste approach to their organization, and I hope much more will go the same way afterwards.

For sure we’ll organize a second edition of Techstars Startup Weekend Zero Waste in Paris, and I hope that others cities will tackle the same theme full of potential!

If you want to organize a Techstars Startup Weekend event, apply here.


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Ellie Torlot Ellie Torlot
Given her passion for travel, culture and people, Ellie studied Social Anthropology and French in Northern Ireland before returning to London to work with startups & SMEs. As a Regional Manager at Techstars, she focuses on supporting the growth of communities & ecosystems across Western Europe.