A Doughnut Lab for Hands-On Sustainable Action

A mobile and modular doughnut lab to make the Doughnut Economy tangible on the streets of Berlin

Our workshop set-up, complete with curious children and happy adults. On the left, Karolina Iwa captures the mood and thoughts of what is happening with her ‘generative scribing’.

"If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

~ Buckminster Fuller

To make the Doughnut Economy tangible on the streets of Berlin, we set up a mobile and modular doughnut lab, in German "Donut Werkstatt", for sustainable action. We did this on the ‘play-street’ on Forster Straße, for the German Council for Sustainable Development, as part of the German Sustainability Action Days. For each of the Doughnut Economics principles, visitors were able to try out a "tool" at one of 7 stations, carrying out a small experiment or solving a puzzle. We wanted to create a humorous, playful way of gaining knowledge, a tactile “Aha!” moment, and for attendees to leave with a positive memory of something that, oddly enough, is called the Doughnut Economy and is fundamentally related to the life of one and all.

Station for Doughnut Economics Principle 7, "Aim to thrive rather than to grow"

Council for Sustainable Development members Hubert Weigert and Lisi Maier (© Andreas Plata/RNE)

Growth in itself is not a goal or an end in itself. Growth is a phase in the cycle of becoming and ending. With this in mind, we asked, “What needs to grow in a society, to make it work well for everyone?” By the end of the afternoon, it became clear that qualities such as cooperation, sensitivity about discrimination, respect for nature, and the value of every human being were very popular. Growth in consumption, property or gross domestic product, on the other hand, were clearly voted out. Individual freedom as well as competition and rivalry were carefully evaluated and debated.

The voting result

Station for Doughnut Economics Principle 3, "Nourishing human nature"

Laura Urbanek explains the doughnut economics principle 3... (© Andreas Plata/RNE)

...and hands out portions of Herman sourdough (© Andreas Plata/RNE)

"What multiplies when it is shared?"

Which thoughts come to your mind first? Our participants thought of "love", "laughter", "friendship", "knowledge", "Corona" and much more. The Doughnut Economy encourages a change of perspective, away from the image of the human being at the top of the pyramid, and towards seeing our position as a participant in the web of life. What really makes us human? How can we build a culture of trust and appreciation?
As a little reminder of this, we gave away portions of Herman sourdough that SoLuna Bakery provided us with - an ever-renewable resource to multiply and share - and of course, to nourish us with delicious bread.

Station for Doughnut Economics Principle 6, "Be Regenerative"

Everyone wants to form seed balls

It all depends on the right mix

The finished result

In cooperation with ZirkulierBar, the Nutrient Transition Network, we got our hands dirty and, while kneading seed balls, talked about the possibilities and opportunities of the circular economy. To do this, we mixed together compost soil recovered from compost toilets with clay, potting soil, water and flower seeds. Big and small guests had a lot of fun at the mud party, and next spring we hope to see the colorful blooming results everywhere!

Station for Doughnut Economics Principle 5, “Be Distributive”

Aim for distributive justice, together we achieve more (© Andreas Plata/RNE)

In this game, it became clear that we can only reach our goal to bring the balls from pot A to pot B through cooperation. The game needs a certain number of people to win: you can’t do it alone, and you have to collaborate. Everyone has to take responsibility for the distribution of resources, knowledge and skills, treating them as a Commons. Doughnut Economics principle: Wellbeing is success - only an economy in which everyone thrives is a successful economy.

Our “Donut Werkstatt” was this year's main action of the Council for Sustainable Development as part of the German Sustainability Action Days. In addition, the action was part of the international SDG campaign #FlipTheScript.
Because we wanted sustainability to be embedded in every detail of the day of action, we assembled the lab components largely from used and recycled materials from the House of Materialisation. There, the all-female team of construction specialists, Baufachfrauen, supported us with their creative know-how and their tools. This location and project is a great gift to the sharing economy of Berlin, and another beautiful example of the Doughnut in action. Wiebke Dane, the graphic designer supporting the project, also jumped on-board with principle of reuse, and had all our signs printed on offcuts from New Wave printers. We made everything modular and easy to assemble and disassemble, so we can reuse the set up for other events. We are currently working on further developing the concept of the “Donut Werkstatt”, so that it can be adapted and borrowed.

If you are interested to hear more or host the “Donut Werkstatt”, please let us know!

Luckily there were also edible (vegan) donuts!





    Kate Goodwin

    Melbourne, Australia

    Getting into the thick of the Doughnut in Melbourne and to exchange learnings and help shape more resilient, just cities.


    Join the DEAL Community!

    Get inspired, connect with others and become part of the movement. No matter how big or small your contribution is, you’re welcome to join!