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Green startups, on point: Startup from Berlin saves the rainforest

The mother animal clings high on a left over stump in the almost completely cleared rainforest. Then the orangutan female is shot down, falls dully to the ground. Your baby will die of thirst and starve to death, workers will later kick the dried-up body with their feet.

Orangutans are closely related to humans as great apes. But it is clearing the world’s indispensable rainforests of global importance to the extent that experts fear that in 100 years, hardly any of the extraordinary biotopes left. According to the WWF, there are around 13 million hectares of dense jungle per year in Africa, South America and Asia, equivalent to 35 football fields every minute.

Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) can be seen in Berlin Zoo, and they too are critically endangered, as their habitat is dangerously rapidly shrinking.

No longer just watching

Profit is made with the tropical wood of their destroyed habitat. Palm oil plantations are cultivated for shower gel, ready-made pizza, margarine, chocolate cream. Also in Biodiesel and fuel E 10 is cheap to produce palm oil contained. In Asia, in Africa, you can almost see how the powerfully lush rainforests as a reservoir, as Artenbiotop, as the lungs of the world are destroyed by the chainsaws. Since I do not just want to watch without doing anything, decided Claudio Vietta.

Caterer at the Carnival of Cultures

“When I saw such scenes and pictures, my heart was bleeding, something you will not forget”, says 38-year-old Heidelberger, who now lives in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg. As a young man, he worked as an industrial designer in Hong Kong, designing electrical appliances there, which are produced in China and later sold to major discounters in this country.

Today, as one of the two managing directors of the start-up company “Leef Blattwerk GmbH” and the associated nonprofit project “Leef Unlimited”, he enables every one of his customers to save the rainforest – through the event organizer to order sustainable, compostable and stylish disposable tableware , Because it looks so chic and quaint, some wash it off and use it again.

Inside and outside. Many Berliners had the value-added harness of the Berlin startup Leef, which is quite summery in scene … Photo: promo

For the second time last year, Leef Unlimited ordered the disposable tableware for all food suppliers at the Carnival of Cultures. The same goes for the African Food Festival or the Lucia Christmas Market: All store and takeaway vendors must use Leef’s disposable crockery – but then the small environmental company from Kreuzberg will give its profit margin – three cents per palm leaf plate – to the self-founded environmental protection project Leef Unlimited continue.

Tagesspiegel rescues at donation gala

The Tagesspiegel has now ordered on the occasion of the handover ceremony of the Tagesspiegel donation campaign 2018/29 palm leaf plates and trays to make also a small but important contribution. In addition, the publisher now offers the Leef-Charity-Teller within its room rental for events (s.u.).

Rainforest parcels at “dumping price”

Because the three pennies transferred per plate, you can actually buy a whole square meter of rainforest through special environmental NGOs such as the British “World Land Trust (WLT)” of the environmentalist John Burton. Waldland acquires WLT with a ten-year protection against deforestation. According to Claudio Vietta, who has looked closely at many such rainforest projects, the World Land Trust works in cooperation with the respective governments of the countries. They must make a commitment to identify the purchased area as a protected area and not just do business with companies that start the saw. Most recently, Leef Unlimited donated to El Pantanoso in Argentina for areas in particularly vulnerable rainforest plots. It is amazing, “for which dumping price the priceless, precious nature is already to have”, says the Berlin entrepreneur. 65 000 plates used at the Carnival of Cultures 2018 makes 65 000 square meters of rescued rainforest. How did he come up with the idea?

Waste product treated in a stylish way

“On a trip to India, I noticed these many Areca nut plantations”, says the entrepreneur with joy in social added value. In India, this nut is consumed as in this country, an espresso after dinner – old Indian tradition. Under the trees remain many dried, fallen, elongated palm leaves. An agricultural waste product that is otherwise often burned. But when you wet this natural and untreated eco-waste, the big leaves become pliable like thick leather. So clean it into the press, the edges cut off, finished plate, bowl, cutlery. Everything with chic nature design, part with grains, high-quality appearance, durable, firm, because nothing suppt or wobbles away like disposable paper plates. Only keep liquids in the cup, such as coffee or orange juice, so do not fold it, says Vietta.

Transport from India in container ship

At the two Leef workshops in India, up-cycling cutlery and dishes are then also exposed to UV light to disinfect them. “We regularly check the products according to the Food and Feed Act, so far nothing was noticeable in the years since the foundation in 2014”. Indian ecoteller, German currywurst, rescued tropical rainforest. It’s that simple. But what about the biobalance of organic products delivered from afar? The rainforest rescue plates would of course not come here by plane, but in a full container with 150 000 plates content by ship. By diesel ship, the greenhouse gas slingshot? Claudio Vietta has currently calculated the “carbon footprint” of the voyage: the total distance equals a lorry journey from Rome to Frankfurt. That would be possible.

The charity startup company has now created 3.5 jobs in Berlin, in logistics, sales, charity – and 150 in India, in the manufacturing. “We helped our manufacturing partners financially with the construction and keep going back to visit the workshops.” Vietta and his co-manager and childhood friend, Marcel Frank, did not want to perform in India “like in colonial times”. , The two production sites in Tamil Nandu and Karnataka have now become a sustainable, new industry, with Berlin-based entrepreneurs paying more than average and maintaining higher safety standards, they say. In addition, they adhere to the standards of the “Social Business Initiative”, emphasizes Vietta. The standards are similar to “Fairtrade”, but this seal would cost 15 000 euros a year, and the money they prefer to invest more meaningful: According to the motto “Be Leef”, so believe in what: the good. And do something yourself. “I can not change the market, not the industry, not the people – but the products.” The Berlin Zoo is also committed to rainforest logging, in the animal park there is a species protection exhibition in the monkey house.

Caterers in Berlin-Brandenburg are also supplied

The lifestyle “to go”, that could not be undone – but the type of product packaging. For example, Leef supplies caterers in the Berlin / Brandenburg region, and the nonprofit Leef Unlimited caters for the Carnival of Cultures, the Malzwiese next weekend and the Potsdam Palace Night. If you want to order something for your garden party as a single customer, you can get it in a limited range on the Internet. The usual plastic-Einwegteller costs according to Vietta two to ten cents, at Leef is 20 cents. Ten large plates cost 4.50 euros in the package. A model is called “Square S”, 15 centimeters, 50 pieces, costs 18.80 euros – with world-saving added value. While plastic crockery is resource-consuming to produce and emits CO2 gases when burned, the remaining palm products “do not emit more CO2 than the plant absorbed through the leaves”. Rainforest trees are only concerned for the event sales, somehow “Leef” must exist economically.

In the future, at manageable events such as the Malzwiese Festival in the old Malzfabrik Schöneberg n Tempelhof-Schöneberg, visitors should be encouraged to throw away everything in such a way that the palm leaf products are composted as organic waste without additives and softeners. “At the center of our thoughts is the idea of putting down a closed cycle”.


Anyone who has ever been in the rainforest feels: so fertile, so lush, as if the heart of the world was here! Nobody today stands next to any rainforest tree and counts how much of the precious greens is destroyed. According to “Rainforest Adventure”, the tropical rainforest shrinks each year by deforestation and targeted fire by about 130,000 square kilometers – an area as large as Greece. This is also the death for rare species that are burned with or die for lack of habitat and food.

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