We are what we sow.

At TEDxZurich, we have decided to design food. «Walk the talk» is TEDxZurich’s anniversary credo for a food concept for up to 600 guests that allows to minimize waste along the whole value chain of food & beverage management while taking care of precious resources and lifting nature up to the highest gourmet level possible. 

If it is possible on such a big scale, it is all the more possible in your private setting. Can you imagine waking up one day and feeling the heavy weight of the trash you produced within the last seven days on your chest?  For his project named 7 Days of Garbage, photographer Gregg Segal had his subjects collect a week’s worth of their rubbish. An average Swiss resident would be pictured with more than 14 kg of weakly trash by his or her side – certainly not a record to be proud of. Our waste mirrors not only our consumer habits but also the values we share and treasure. So how can we design our catering to reflect the idea behind TEDxZurich? 

Food waste is already produced long before the actual day of an event. Did you know that a significant third of all vegetables and fruits planted all around us in Switzerland grows only to be wasted? We have added exactly that seasonal organic produce to our self-written menu that would otherwise end up in the garbage. To support our idea, we have brought the association Grassrooted on board, which collects vegetables that do not meet industrial standards directly from local farmers. In order to live up to our promise to our guests, we have enlisted the help of ETH spin-off planted. In addition to respecting the dignity of animals and avoiding unnecessary suffering, their plant-based chicken allows us to save tons of litres of water otherwise used in meat production.  

A 16-point Gault-Millau chef is working with TEDxZurich to indulge our 500 venue guests with delicious tastes. Our food will be served in fully biodegradable palm leaf tableware. Leftovers will be picked up by bicycle and distributed to people in need in the vicinity of Zurich, taking not only the ecological but also the social sustainability dimension of food waste into account. We are what we eat, but are we also what we drink? Despite the unparalleled quality of drinking water, and the devastating plastic pollution of our oceans, more than 1.6 billion PET bottles are filled and consumed in Switzerland every year. With a recycling rate of 83%, why not use the PET that is already in circulation? TEDxZurich has initiated a collaboration with Valser to serve water in 100% recyclable PET bottles at our main event, saving as many as 1500 new bottles in just a single day. 

But luckily, we at TEDxZurich are not the only ones walking the talk, proving that change can be achieved in many small steps. Along our way, we have gathered experts from different fields that have already put many ideas worth spreading into practice. Each for himself may only be a drop in the ocean. But all of us together, we can build a wave that carries us to safer – and cleaner – shores. 

By Stella & Amanda