A JOURNEY THROUGH THE GREEN
This is a very personal story about successes, failures and endurance.
From the farm in Lower Lusatia to the car workshop, to engineering studies, to the Porsche factory halls. I took my first steps as an entrepreneur, but then remained an engineer again. I hadn’t arrived just yet.
In the year 2000, my path led me to a consulting firm in Berlin that mainly advised ministries. I took on the subject of electro mobility; which was a fantasy word 17 years ago. I drafted strategy papers for the political sector, which were intended to show new value chains for German industry. I’m not making a secret of it; after my time at Porsche I was not very enthusiastic about new environmental technologies. On the other hand, I was excited to be able to help shape the world of tomorrow and I was working on future oriented topics. Over the years, I became a real professional. Renewable energies, electric vehicles, fuel cells, all of a sudden these became hot topics. Green was suddenly exciting, and so much happened.
But one thing never let go of me, and that was my love of music. By chance, I met an idol of mine from when I was a teenager; Clark Datchler, the lead singer of the very successful 80’s band Johnny Hates Jazz. On his solo album ‘Tomorrow’, Clark asks himself how our planet could function sustainably. Where will our energy come from when the oil is depleted? Clark convinced me and those big questions about the future of our blue planet didn’t let me go. I wanted to seek solutions, discover them, make them great. And so, the GreenTec Awards were created.
10 years of the GreenTec Awards. An era!
My partner Sven Krüger and I wanted to create the most important environmental award in the world. We wanted to provide a stage for green ideas and technologies. We wanted to be the poster child for green pioneers. And once again I was smirked at. I harvested heaps of nos, was given little confidence, was confronted with scepticism at every turn.
And then Dr. Werner Brinker, CEO of the energy supplier EWE at the time, paved the way for us in the face of countless obstacles. It was a real feat of strength, but work that makes sense also unleashes strength. The reward was that after ten years of the GreenTec Awards, now Europe’s most important environmental technology award, we were able to look back at the countless wonderful acquaintances we had made. From politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, media makers, to creative artists and athletes, they all wanted to make a difference. Mostly, however, it was the young people who courageously went ahead, giving directional impulses and sacrificing everything for an idea.
During this decade, many other green projects outside the stages of the GreenTec Awards, made me aware that sustainability, biotechnologies and energy efficiency are becoming increasingly important in the economic environment as well. For us consumers, however, it still seems difficult today to orient ourselves in a non-transparent and confusing market. And so a new chapter began for me. I want to prove that lifestyle and sustainability aren’t incompatible. Shouldn’t be incompatible; and don’t have to be incompatible.
What comes next?
With experienced partners from fields like business, art, culture, media and advertising, the idea of a platform for curated green products emerged, no matter from which product segment. We wanted to open a window to a better world. We called ourselves Green Window. Enthusiastically we hunted for ecologically valuable products. On hundreds of websites, green information portals and established sustainability fairs, with winners and candidates of the GreenTec Awards, innovative companies and personal acquaintances, we searched tirelessly for more green DNA. We found many of them along the way; especially where we would have least expected them. Within a very short time our new green online shop was on the market. The special thing was, we didn’t just sell products, we told their stories, too.
The disillusionment came quickly; Green Window became too random. Disappointment permeated the entire team. There were too few high-quality and sustainable products that were actually viable. The customer’s decision was too seldom in favour of the sustainable alternative. In my euphoria, I had misjudged that. The product quality, the haptics, the design, the price; all of these factors play a role. Sustainable products must be designed to be holistically innovative in order to establish themselves. With this new knowledge in my pocket, I took another run up.
The basic idea has remained, lifestyle with environmentally friendly, fair-trade products. But for this mammoth project I need all strength I have. For new momentum. New approaches. I want to work in a focused way, fight with more vehemence. And so I had to make up my mind. GreenTec Awards or Green Window. I couldn’t do both. After ten years, it’s now time to break new ground.