In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by a wide range of people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Katrin Mechler.
Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.
So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In its “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.
In this edition of our series, Katrin Mechler (46), design communicator at BMW Group Design, explains the exciting idea behind the RE:BMW Circular Lab and reveals how sustainable exchange can work via circular thinking.
Katrin Mechler, visitors to "The Campus" at BMW Welt were recently able to learn more about the circular economy in a workshop and have fun while experiencing the sustainable principles of the future. What’s it all about?
Katrin Mechler: "The Campus" workshop is at the heart of our RE:BMW Circular Lab. This is where we want to convey an awareness and understanding of the circular economy and encourage every individual to become active themselves. We work with the terms RE:THINK, RE:USE, RE:DUCE and RE:CYCLE and also take every opportunity to demonstrate how the BMW Group is moving towards sustainability in the sense of the circular economy.
How did you come up with the idea of packaging this topic in a workshop for young people and adults?
Mechler: I work in BMW Group Design and am responsible for communicating design themes across the board. For a time now, I have frequently noticed that many people are still unfamiliar with the topic of the circular economy and that the explanations often seem cumbersome. Design is a central aspect; designing things so that they can remain in a cycle. So I came up with the idea of bringing the topic to life in workshops using a model. Sophie Seidenath, our design press spokesperson, was immediately hooked as soon as I explained the idea to her. We then developed the project further. We want to reach people so that they understand what the circular economy is about: what monomaterials are, what a recyclate is, the importance of soluble material compounds. And much more as well.
What is behind this project for you? What do you want to achieve?
Mechler: I want us to use the influence we have as the BMW Group to create a strong awareness of sustainability beyond the confines of the company. For private individuals as well as in industry. Because we will only be able to actually change things when this is actively embedded in people’s consciousness. To do this, however, we must first get to grips with the real issue – in this case, circular economy and sustainable action. The RE:BMW Circular Lab offers a fun approach. Once we set the ball rolling, it almost carries on under its own steam. I notice this in myself, because I can’t honestly say I have been shaping my life in a sustainable way. The more I know though, the more I do things myself and also question the products in my life more and more. And it’s not only because I know the effects, but also because I know the alternatives.
That means your work also affects what you do outside work?
Mechler: Yes, and quite massively so. I have such a heightened awareness now that I can no longer turn a blind eye. We talk so intensively with colleagues about valuable resources, waste avoidance and recycling via the RE:BMW Circular Lab that I automatically buy more selectively, recycle more and throw away less. Sustainability and the circular economy have long been important to me, but not the central issues. I was literally captivated on being confronted by it – because it is also so present and so very important. Moreover, the work is incredibly fun to do because it is meaningful and effective.
Are you proud of what has been achieved together?
Mechler: Yes, I am totally proud that Sophie and I, as “normal” employees, had the chance to really make a difference. We were simply in the right place at the right time with our idea, an idealistic duo – very much like a start-up. And now the whole concept is in place, the website, the workshops are up and running – and we are simply a great team.
You got RE:BMW Circular Lab up and running in a very short time, which must have been exhausting at times. What motivated you to keep going each day?
Mechler: I only have to turn on the news bulletins to see how global warming is changing our world. I can’t just turn a blind eye. I must do something. That motivates me. It’s about reaching people now, because change starts in the mind – the products automatically follow on from that.
The idea became a project – and the BMW:RE Circular Lab was launched at the IAA 2021. What happens next?
Mechler: To begin with, anyone who is interested can always take part in the workshops at "The Campus". We also have a website and you can experience a lot digitally. You can even experience our four “Circular Heroes”, the little heroes of the RE:BMW Circular Lab, digitally. They are also a central component of the analogue workshops and exemplify different types of material compounds and sustainable monomaterials. In future, the workshops will go on the road, because we want to reach as many people as possible, get a dialogue going with them and learn together.
So, when is it good enough?
Mechler: For a perfectionist like me, it will never really be good enough. Besides, you should never stop trying to do better. Every day, it is teaching me something new; something that I can do better.
In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.