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Successful Launch of the First Sustainability Day @SML

The ZHAW School of Management and Law held its first Sustainability Day on 21 November 2019 with the theme “Cash Cow Climate: Sind Ökonomie und Ökologie vereinbar?” (Cash Cow Climate: Can Economics and Ecology Be Reconciled?). The event was organized and hosted by five students of the ZHAW School of Management and Law.

Organizing team (from left to right): Silvan Bergmann, Yves Hofmänner, Pascal Grütter, Alexandra Büchi, and Jelena Simic.

By Students for Students

Since July, five SML students (Silvan Bergmann, Yves Hofmänner, Pascal Grütter, Alexandra Büchi, and Jelena Simic) had been getting everything ready for this day, making all the decisions from the content and the speakers to running the event. They were supported by ZHAW School of Management and Law staff members Marie-Christin Weber and Diana Krüger. Some 330 participants took the opportunity to learn more and exchange ideas on the topic of sustainability at an information fair, three workshops, an impact start-up pitch, and two keynote speeches.

Information Fair: Ties to Winterthur

Sustainability Day kicked off with an information fair that gave participants the opportunity to reflect on their behavior and how much they already know about sustainability: Do I eat according to what’s in season? What social responsibility do companies bear? To what extent does my lifestyle shape tomorrow's society? The organizers were particularly interested in the relationship of the exhibitors to Winterthur as a location. "A broad spectrum of organizations that contribute to sustainable development is represented in Winterthur. We wanted the information fair to highlight this diversity," the five students explained. Among others, Public Eye Winterthur, the online magazine "Das Lamm", the "Stadtgmües" campaign of Winterthur’s Environmental and Health Department, and WWF Zurich were represented at the information fair.

A Convincing Business Concept?

In the evening, the ZHAW School of Management and Law held its first "Dragon's Den". Participants were given the opportunity to "invest" in one of four impact start-ups depending on whose business concept they considered as most convincing. They were able to choose between Kompotoi, Yova, Direct Coffee, and Travelhero, who demonstrated in an inspiring way that, in a cash cow climate, business and ecology are not mutually exclusive. The winner was Kompotoi, a start-up offering environmentally friendly, odorless toilet solutions. The audience invested a total of CHF 37,000 in that company.

Circular Economy as an Alternative Economic System

The evening concluded with two exciting presentations: "Kreislaufwirtschaft als Brücke zur Nachhaltigkeit" (Circular Economy as a Bridge to Sustainability) and "Impact Investing". These were introduced by Prof. Jens Lehne, a member of the ZHAW School of Management and Law Executive Committee.

In the first talk, Philipp Rufer of the Circular Economy Switzerland initiative presented the circular economy as an alternative economic system to today's prevailing linear economy and explained how this new economic understanding can be implemented. "In practice, economists are needed to develop new circular business strategies and business models. To do this, they do not have to be experts in environmental sciences, but they need a systems understanding of the circular economy as well as of system-relevant disciplines such as design, materials, and resources," Rufer said.

Next, Svetlana Baurens, President of the Galileo International Impact Investing Center, told the audience how she is trying to raise awareness of impact investing in the Swiss financial industry. Impact investments aim to achieve positive social and environmental effects, as well as generating economic profits.

“Äss-Bar Winterthur”: Combating Food Waste Together

The event was catered by “Äss-Bar Winterthur”, which offers a food concept to help combat food waste: Working with various bakeries, the company sells pastries and other baked goods from the day before, thus sending a clear signal against food waste.

Outcome: A Resounding Success

Judging from the many questions as well as much positive feedback received from participants, the first Sustainability Day at the ZHAW School of Management and Law was a resounding success. It was an exciting, inspiring event due to the efforts of the organizing team. "We are looking forward to holding a second event in the fall of 2020, and we are again looking for motivated students at the ZHAW School of Management and Law who would like to organize it," said former project leader Marie-Christin Weber.


ZHAW School of Management & Law
Theaterstrasse 17/ Gebäude ST
8400 Winterthur