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Interview of the association Les Autruches Utopistes (Utopian Ostriches)

  • Clio

Good morning, everyone,

Some time ago, the association, a user of Ecomail's services, came to present its activity on the community forum. We decided to add them to our donation program to help them in their efforts for our environment.

Today we have the pleasure to realize an interview of the association "Les Autruches Utopistes" for which we made a donation of 1000 euros!

How did the idea of creating the association "Les Autruches Utopistes" come about?

We are three friends: Charlotte, Hélène and Pablo. We met in Cambodia as part of an environmental education project, Plastic Free Cambodia. All three of us come from the audiovisual and digital world and are ecologists in our daily lives, on the path to zero waste. During the four years we were in Cambodia, a lot of things happened in France (no more bulk stores, no more green movements, no more zero waste groups...). So when we came back to France, we wanted to use our professional skills for this cause. Web project manager, copywriter, video director: we quickly found our use! Founding an association to promote zero waste as a social and collective tool with media and digital tools. The association exists since March 2019.

Where does the name you gave your association come from? What does it mean to you?That's a good question! We read George Marshall's book "Ostrich Syndrome" and we understood that we were all a bit like ostriches when it comes to climate change, because our brains are struggling, pushing us into denial. After we did some research and we understood that the expression "to put our heads in the sand" is actually wrong, ostriches don't put their heads in the sand because they are afraid (I leave you to look for the reasons!). We were also inspired by another reading, focused on universal income, "Realistic Utopias" by Rutger Bregman. Utopia allows us to imagine possible futures. So we became The Ostriches (like everyone else) but utopians!

What is your experience with "Zero Waste"?

There are three of us in the office and we have three different experiences. But when we came back from Asia, the three of us lived in the same apartment, so we quickly shared good habits (buying food in bulk, second hand clothes, sorting organic waste...). But it has to be said that Hélène is the strongest in zero waste! She knows how to do homemade laundry, dish washing, tawashis, compost, vegetable gardening and so on ! In our daily life and in our travels for filming and interviews (which are done by public transport, train and bicycle) we always use water bottles and jars for our picnics. We have also joined local Zero Waste France groups in Bordeaux and Nantes. The association is also a member of Zero Waste France.

Why did you choose to focus your multimedia project, called "De l'Autre Côté", on "Zero Waste"?

While volunteering for an association in Cambodia, we had the chance to meet a lot of other volunteers, people who wanted to make a difference in terms of alternatives to disposable plastic and people on the road to zero waste first in Asia. And also in France when we came back. Talking with them we understood that zero waste was for them the doorway to more change and questioning. They started for example with toothpaste or home-made beauty products and then little by little, by drawing the thread of their reflection, they changed all their consumption (clothing, technology etc.) and some even questioned their work and its usefulness! Thinking goes a long way! So that's what inspired us. Can zero waste be a gateway to collective and societal change?

What is the purpose of this multimedia project?

The aim is to answer this question: can zero waste be a gateway to collective and societal change? What would our cities and towns look like if they were zero waste? We want to document the actions of citizens, entrepreneurs, elected officials, volunteers and professionals who are working towards a zero-waste community life. Over the 8 episodes, we will see members of a citizen lobby, bio-waste collectors, bulk sellers, volunteers from Zero Waste France, object repairers, designers, low tech inventors etc. We want to show that it is possible and that we can make a difference by starting by taking an interest in waste because it is the remnant of a part of our daily consumption. It's a starting point towards a bigger change. We would like people who watch our videos, read our articles, listen to our podcasts, discover our illustrations that they too can take action in this direction. The problem of climate change is huge and zero waste offers an easy entry point because change is visible immediately!

What actions have you put in place as well as the next ones to be put in place to reach your goal?

We would like to reach as many people as possible. For this we organize or join events, screenings, debates (so offline)! Since last year we have participated in 7 events. In March 2020 we will screen our first episode during the Fête du court in Lyon and Paris. On the internet, we are present on social networks and work with an association that trains prisoners in the code: Code Phénix (https://codephenix.fr/) for the development of the platform that will host our documentary web series. This spring we are organizing a participatory fundraising campaign with J'adopte un projet (https://jadopteunprojet.com/). Even though our time and work will remain voluntary and we already have patrons from the world of zero waste and the support of Ecomail, we need to finance the expenses generated for the production of the project, for our travel to film shoots and the organization of events. These events are essential to reach as many people as possible and thus to create and build a community around this project.

What media will you use to disseminate your media?

We are in the process of developing the web platform (which also serves as a pedagogical tool for a dozen learners at the Melun detention centre). For this we have received the support of the Numberly Foundation. Our videos are also hosted on vimeo, podcasts on soundcloud and other distribution platforms. All other content will be hosted on our web platform "De l'autre côté". In total we want to produce 8 episodes, following the 8 R's: refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, give back to the earth, recycle, redesign, rethink the model.

When will the first episode of the "Zero Waste" series be available?

The platform will come out by mid-April 2020 at the latest. So the first episode on the theme "Refuse", which includes a 12-minute video, two articles, an original illustration, photos and an audio podcast will be released at the same time. But already in March we are participating in events/projections where the first video episode will be shown to the public. To follow the news of these events you can join our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/autruchesutopistes/ (we also post all our events in Bordeaux on https://gironde.demosphere.net/).

What audience are you targeting? Do you have the idea of calling on local authorities, elected representatives or other stakeholders to raise awareness of "Zero Waste"?

Exactly! The target audience for our podcast are local actors, elected officials, town councillors, school principals, association leaders, teachers etc. The objective is to bring good practices and reflections back to people who are already involved (in social, educational and political fields) so that they can see zero waste as a collective tool for change but above all for cooperation and co-construction.

Do you have any advice or examples to give regarding "Zero Waste"?

There are plenty of good examples in certain town halls such as Grande-Synthe. We had the chance to interview its former mayor Damien Carême. The city has set up a people's university, they give courses and train people to zero waste (like making their own household products) showing that it is good for health, more economical and ecological. They have opened a bricotheque, like a library but for tools. They want to build collective housing with collective washing machines and managed by the builders (like elevators, therefore without programmed obsolescence). There are no plastic trays in the canteen because everything is made on site and organic, with composting of the waste. organic. This is our first piece of advice: sorting and managing organic waste. Many young entrepreneurs have started to create services for the collection and management of bio-waste (alchemists, tricyclists, detritivores, etc.). Master composter is a profession with a future! Zero waste is not only a habit and a way of life, it can also allow the creation of new jobs, such as bulk grocer, bulk truck or bulk drive initiator (like zedrive in New Aquitaine) or bicycle repairer, low tech inventor, eco-designer or eco-designer etc... Zero waste is also a wonderful educational tool to raise awareness about climate change and social change. It is necessary to be able to imagine new uses to get out of the private property of objects and therefore out of over-consumption. Zero waste is a starting point for imagining the future.

Thank you for your time in answering our interview.
See you soon!

For more information about the association, visit their website https://autruchesutopistes.com/.