• The Story Behind Bridgedale360

    I just had to leave…

    I had been walking aimlessly, as if my body just carried me along, for what seemed like forever. I still didn't know where I was heading or what was propelling me forwards. Except the reverb of that thought - I had to leave - and a name. Bridgedale360. My fist tightened around the scrap of paper on which it was written. I didn't have to open it, again, to see it. By now the name and the X that marked it on the spidery map was already etched into my mind. Instead, I looked up and wondered whether the turn in the road was starting to look - not exactly, but still - like the curve of one of the lines on the map. Like one of the spider´s legs. All roads lead to Bridgedale360? I first heard about it from a friend a few months ago and then later, overheard it in a bar. Just people talking over loud and dull pop - but I heard it for sure - and then I found this map, or it found me. I had to leave, my heart needed to believe, I had to believe.

    I picked up the pace, my heart beating out a rhythm for my legs to follow, and my right side stung. Exhaustion and fear tugged at me, and perhaps it was regret that made me look back every now and again, but this time I wasn't going to let it get the better of me. Not this time. I threw some of what was left over from my bag of dried fruits into my mouth, hoping it would hush my hunger. My feet yelled out in pain; my new boots had still not been broken in. Instead, the boots seemed bent on breaking me in. Blisters and all. My insides screamed at me in revolt.

    Suddenly I heard voices. I got cautious, a bit afraid, but my curiosity brought me closer. My ears twitched like antennae, trying to figure out where the voices came from. I stood still. There. “Bridgedale360”, I heard it. My heart rattled my ribcage. “Over there, not so far anymore.” I had to get to them. “Wait!” I think I said and cut through the row of trees, hesitantly at first, but then found myself pushing and shoving shrubs aside, until I saw them and they saw me. “Hi,” said the woman, smilingly. I gasped and smiled back and my insides kept quiet, for once.

    We were walking for days, mostly quietly. But there was a sense of unity that I had never felt before. We were all following our dreams somehow, but without really knowing what it was. Layla showed me some pictures of her family, and said that she didn’t know any longer where they were, if they were alive. Could we blame the “system crisis”? But I also felt conscience-stricken, because I saw how privileged I was. Yet, I was unhappy. But happiness does not come with abundance, I learnt it the hard way. I could not imagine myself continuing like before. I desperately needed Bridgedale360 to be more than a silly fairy tale…

    Once we started off together, everything fell into step so to speak. We moved as if we were one, people from the west, people from the east, just people...fleeing the old system and searching for that unknown place. Conversations bubbled up here and there, naturally without any haste, but then we would retreat into a silence again, as we mulled over things we had just heard, and I imagined how life was for them before in the countries where they were coming from, and how much it sounded like my own in some ways; while in others, mine was completely foreign to theirs. I remembered the things I used to enjoy, but that was in the past, I told myself, as I shook off an all too familiar sense of heaviness. Excess does that to you, somehow. But, here on this dirt road to Bridgedale360, I was just like them. Bridgedale360 was and will be the great equalizer for us all.   

    Arriving happened by surprise. We came to a stream and a little further up a girl was playing in the water, singing for herself. We came closer and when she saw us she smiled. “Ahoy there, comrades!”, she said. And she smiled and waved at us. I was surprised by the openness with which she was greeting a bunch of strangers. In the middle of nowhere! But it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, we soon found out. Further up the stream we saw a mill and some mechanism pumping water. And then it all just opened up. Without waiting for us, the girl skipped ahead and we followed, not skipping like her, but feeling a slight hop in our own step. We exchanged glances and before we knew it, buildings and gardens and people working appeared from behind the trees. Everybody stopped to greet if only briefly, and smiled before they got back to doing what they were doing. Cows grazed past us. Even they seemed to smile.

    Our little guide, we could see, had come to a stop before the most impressive of all the buildings that we had passed. A man stood there rubbing his hands and then approached us, as if he couldn´t wait for us to get to where he stood. “Welcome,” he said, while his hands rubbed and patted our weary shoulders, ”first some rest and then I´ll show you around Bridgedale360, ok?”

  • The Compost Pile


    “Where is away?”

    -Julia Butterfly Hill

    “There is no waste in nature.”



    Leticia, rubbish entrepreneur

    This is a very easy subject. Easy to see and to solve. Well, in principle. Of course reality has turned out to be, hmm… unpredictable. I will get to that in a minute. Think about the words first. What is waste? It is stuff you do not need anymore. Chew on that sentence for a while. Stuff you do not need anymore. Stuff, any stuff can become other stuff if you allow for flexibility. You don’t need it anymore, but others might. Anymore, why? Did it already break? Is there a way to fix it? In any case, in the long run, waste is not an option. Because we live on a tiny planet with a lot of people. Throwing a wrapper over your shoulder might get it out of sight, but it’s not going to go up in smoke… well, it might, but that will cost you your atmosphere.

    When you still lived out there, in your cosy on-grid stinking western town, you could fill a bin with waste on a calm day, a container on a bad day. This is not strange if you consider that even a toothbrush is packaged in two thick layers of plastic. In the meanwhile, in the Pacific Ocean a floating plastic soup is growing, consisting of billions of water bottles and toilet brushes, all once discarded but not processed. Perhaps they bounced on the outside of the bin and ended up in the canal. The ecosystem is not sending its regards for this, if you would like to know. Don’t be surprised when you choke on a plastic bit while eating a fish you thought was safe because you caught it yourself.

    In the meanwhile, farmers sprayed their land with artificial manure, causing the groundwater to turn all kinds of funny colours. Institutions then cleaned this water with high technology and much energy, transported it to our homes, where some of it was drunk, and then used the rest to flush our personal manure down the toilet. The plants in the window screamed with horror when observing this absurdity. Everything ended up in a big pile, which some day, you may find on your way, if you start to wander around. You will recognise it by the chemical odour and the orange soup seeping from the cracks in the ground. Turn around and run, that’s my advice!

    In Bridgedale360, we have gone about it quite differently. Just look at the compost toilet in front of you. That’s where we put our manure. We separate the poo and the urine. The urine is an absolutely amazing fertilizer; it just needs to be distilled with water. And don’t pour it straight on your plants! We bring the poo to long term composting at the side of the woods there. After two years it has become excellent nutritious compost to put straight on the fields. The veggies will grow without any artificial stuff, and all the inputs come from around the area. That’s what I call a closed loop system. Besides, we’re not wasting water or energy to flush away our manure. Heh, why would we ever do that? And what about clothes? I remember back in my old town there was a “recycling centre” to sort out the garbage. There were always two containers full of clothes! Every single day, and this was a small town… and most of them were perfectly fine. Here we recycle our stuff of course, but you will rarely find any clothes. Used clothes that are fine generally go to the community wardrobe. It’s great when you put something there and months later you see someone walking around in your old sweater!

    Have you already visited the community café? It’s called “Waste actually”, right beside the Town Hall in the centre. Every single teaspoon in there is waste. The funny looking furniture, the bar, the cider bottles, the windows, the roof. Waste! And the art on the walls. Waste! There are always different local artists exhibiting there, all bringing their garbage! A friend of mine that’s an artist, went back to her old town and sold a bunch of welded together tin cans to some art collector. For a lot of money. Talk about increasing value.

    But of course, for us, it is not just about increasing value or even saving the planet from piles of garbage. These factors do play a big role, but let’s not forget the human factor. As someone that grew up in the slums of Brazil, we would go scavenging in the landfill sites with other kids quite often. We used to come across wonderful items that were considered garbage. What started as a simple altruistic act of collecting sofas or cups from the landfills so that we can give them to poor communities or use them for ourselves - has now turned into an entire rubbish entrepreneurship career. In Bridgedale360, we run pay-as-you-feel courses with a special focus on the poor so as to empower them to turn garbage into things that might actually earn them a sustainable living - and of course, earn all of us sustainable world as well!

    Learning Outcomes

    • To get an expanded notion of waste management and recycling possibilities

    • To be able to separate different kinds of garbage

    • To get a notion of the repairability of products

    • To become critical about the  lifespan of a product
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