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Let's Talk Sustainability© Goethe-Institut Washington

Let's Talk Sustainability

From energy consulting to environmental activism: For "Let's Talks Sustainability," the Goethe-Institut Washington spoke with young people from across Germany about their fight for a more equitable and sustainable future for all. Each episode focuses on one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). New episodes every Friday.

Folgen 1-10

Water Protection Starts in the Washing Machine

Leonie und Zoe: Gewässerschutz fängt in der Waschmaschine anGoethe-Institut Washington

Episode 1: Leonie and Zoe (SDG 6)

Two sisters from Friedberg take on the fight against microplastics: While Zoe researches the state of local lakes and rivers, Leonie works on a filter for washing machines that is designed to prevent the particles from getting into the environment in the first place.


Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation Microplastics are everywhere — but are they harmful? (Nature.com)

Fighting COVID-19 Through Digital Innovation

Folge 2: Noah (SDG 3)Goethe-Institut Washington

Episode 2: Noah (SDG 3)

In the early days of the pandemic, even daily tasks became a huge burden for many. Noah Adler from Berlin quickly recognized this—and took action. Or rather: he enabled others to act, with Coronaport, a website that allows that allows people to help others.


Goal 3: Good Health and Well-BeingCoronaport (Noah's project website)

Full Power to Save Energy

Episode 3: ClaraGoethe-Institut Washington

Episode 3: Clara (SDG 7)

Clara Bauer and her team from energyECO advise schools and daycares in Berlin on how to become more energy efficient. Conserving energy not only lowers their operational costs, it also helps to protect the environment by reducing greenhouses gases.

Further Reading

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyEnergy Eco (Clara's project)

Together against Antisemitism

Episode 4: Together against Antisemitism (SDG 16)Goethe-Institut Washington

Episode 4: Malte (SDG 16)

Malte Kreyer from Hamburg has been campaigning against this for years. After an attack on a Jewish student in the neighborhood, he and his comrades-in-arms activated the whole school for a large solidarity action against anti-Semitism. 

Further Reading

Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong InstitutionsWhat is Antisemitism? (Anti-Defamation League) 

How To Make a School Plastic-Free

Episode 5: Kilian (SDG 14)Goethe-Institut Washington

Episode 5: Kilian (SDG 14)

Despite recycling efforts, several million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. For this reason, Kilian Wolter from Norderstedt launched the "Kooperation Antiplastik" at his school. Their goal: to make their school plastic-free.

Further Reading

Goal 14: Life Below WaterKooperation Anti-Plastik (Kilian's Project)

Saving Cities By Bike

Episode 6: Lena (SDG 11)Goethe-Institut Washington

Episode 6: Lena (SDG 11)

Green light for climate friendly transportation solutions: Lena Becker from Hamburg spent a whole year working on the mobility turnaround in her home city. But what does mobility turnaround actually mean? And how far has Lena come?

Further Reading

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesCycling in Hamburg (Hamburg transportation authority)

Cutting Down Trees for a Butterfly

Episode 7: Marius (SDG 15)Goethe-Institut Washington

Episode 7: Marius (SDG 15)

Marius Krebs from Lindau on Lake Constance regularly uproots trees and builds dams. By doing so, he takes care of a special type of landscape, namely boglands. They serve an important function, helping to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity.

Further Reading

Goal 15: Life on LandProtecting Peatlands, Protecting the Planet (UN Environment Programme)

How To Make Colored Plastics Greener

Episode 8: Clara, Doro and Bastian (SDG 12)Goethe-Institut Washington

Clara, Doro and Bastian (SDG 12)

Plastics are often made from petroleum and other harmful chemicals. But do they have to be? Clara, Doro and Bastian from Erfurt asked themselves this question. To find an answer, they went to the lab where they found a way of making plastics a little greener.

Further Reading 

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionBioplastics: Benefits and Pitfalls (Green America)

A Sleeping Car for the Homeless

Episode 9: Liza (SDG 1)Goethe-Institut Washington

Episode 9: Liza (SDG 1)

Liza Popal from Hamburg developed a sleeping car for the homeless: During the day, it is a normal hand cart in which belongings can be stowed and transported. At night, it can be transformed into a sleeping pad that protects from cold weather and the elements.

Further Reading

Goal 1: No PovertyReport on Homelesness in the U.S. (National Alliance to End Homelesness)

Counting Flowers for Biodiversity

Episode 10: Jakob (SDG 2)Goethe-Institut Washington

Episode 10: Jakob (SDG 2)

Biodiversity is in decline almost everywhere on earth. Some experts consider this to be as serious a threat as climate change. Can counting flowers make a difference? Jakob Nolte from Laubach emphatically says yes. He also makes persuasive arguments. 

Further Reading

Goal 2: Zero HungerBiodiversity Action Guide (Nature.org)

In the Classroom

Are you interested in using Let's Talk Sustainability in your classroom to teach German? Here you can download free lesson plans and worksheets for each episode. 


Matthias Fischer
Project Manager
Goethe-Institut Washington