Sustainable & Climate-Positive Coworking

"Do good things...

… and talk about it!” That was the mantra I was told when one of our members gave me some business coaching. There’s no doubt that “good things” (in our line of business, coworking, this means sustainable values and flexible memberships) has been misused and abused for marketing (greenwashing) purposes by many a company, but there’s no reason why sustainability and shouting from the rooftops about sustainability should be anathema to one another. The cynic might roll their eyes at the term, the astute marketer might argue that if you’re not doing it, you’ll be left behind, but I prefer a perhaps more pragmatic approach: “Sustainability is the new normal”.

With the increasing importance of social entrepreneurship to consumers, businesses who don’t embrace social values are at risk of falling to the wayside. You see the topic starting to enjoy more popularity even in the most classic of industries. Look at the banking world where Hamburg-based Tomorrow, a self-titled transparent banking service on a mission of sustainability, set itself a two-week funding target of €2 million and managed to crack €3 million in the space of five hours. There is obviously an appetite among the general public for supporting companies that look beyond making money for themselves, but which want to make a difference socially.

Let’s also look at Einhorn, a Berlin-based purpose-driven condom/tampon company. Every step of the way, they’ve tracked and reduced their carbon footprint, they’ve made sure the gender pay gap is bridged, they’ve reinvested their profit back into the company and its employees to support their purpose of being a force for good in the world, rather than selling out to the highest bidder, bending to investors and, like in the unfortunate case of Etsy, losing sight of their mission entirely. Einhorn shows that profit and purpose are not mutually exclusive. Indeed sacrificing growth is not something of concern to their Managing Director, Waldemar Zeiler, referring in his book Unfuck the Economy to how never-ending growth, in the medical world, goes by another name: cancer.

Purpose-Driven Coworking

So why should a coworking space in Berlin not also be purpose-driven? As a steady and 100% independently owned and operated business, we’re in the luxury position of being able to pursue anything we want, without having to appease stakeholders. So we asked ourselves: “What do we think is important? What kind of impact do we as a space want to leave behind?”

The great thing about this question is that it can be applied, not only to us, as coworking space operators, but to our members too. What do we mean by that?

While some coworking spaces with a social entrepreneurship slant only allow people working on social projects to join their spaces, we don’t think you need to be saving the world to help save the world. In other words, you shouldn’t need to be a member of an out-and-out social entrepreneurship coworking space to be able to make a difference. While we’re in awe of everything social spaces do and the hugely positive impact social startups have, we think even those people whose primary focus is not necessarily world peace should at least be allowed the opportunity to improve the world in one way or another.

With that in mind, we’ve been looking more and more at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and asking ourselves, how do we get not just ourselves, but also our members involved? How do we have it so that simply by virtue of being a member at our space, you’re already making a difference? Let’s look at what it means to be a tuesday coworker:

  • Being a member at our space means you’re powering your laptop with renewable energy.
  • It means you can enjoy Viva Con Agua mineral water and Quartiermeister beer from our fridges, both of which support social projects.
  • It means the coffee you drink is organic, sustainable and for every kilo we buy, €1 goes to educational farming projects (Coffee Circle).
  • It means the majority of furniture you’re sitting on is in line with the idea of a circular economy where not everything is bought new. Instead we try to re-use and recycle when and where we can.
  • It means the soap you’re using to wash your hands is purchased via dm from the share.eu initiative, an online store where for each product we purchase, another one is given to someone in need.
  • It means the paper in our toilets is not only recycled, its purchase supports anti-racism & world hunger projects (Goldeimer).
  • It means every week we look at the Sustainable Development Goals and we look at tuesday and we ask ourselves, “Where can we improve?”.
  • It means purchases for the space are not made through Amazon.
  • It means we’re countering a throwaway mentality by offering our space as a home for electronics and bike repair cafés.
  • And while carbon offsetting is all well and good, carbon removal is what is really needed. Cooperating with Finnish marketplace “puro.earth”, this year we’ll be going one step further to make our spaces not just carbon neutral, but overall net-negative. This is done by investing in projects and companies whose processes actually extract carbon from the atmosphere rather than just compensate for it. It’s a complex topic, but the puro.earth website explains it well.

So, yes, 2021 will be the year tuesday coworking goes “climate positive”. 2021 is also the year when hundreds, hopefully thousands of other companies will be reassessing their impact for good. And with the newly created Leaders for Climate Action pulling increasing numbers of global brands into its fold, maybe we can finally bury our cynicism, turn a corner and indeed make sustainability the new normal.

Interested in turning a corner with us?

Get in touch

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