Irene Rompa: A basket of sustainability

Irene Rompa, a TEDxAmsterdam crew member passionate about sustainability, explains how she maximized the sustainable potential of today’s event. And, as a girl from Amsterdam, she enters the stage with… a bike.


Picture: Maurice Mikkers & Jan Jaap Heine

Learning lessons
When involved in putting together the giftbag for last year’s TEDxAmsterdam, Irene realized she helped package and distribute another 16.000 gifts, and decided it was time for a change. The result is that this year’s gift bag is not a bag, but a basket! And one basket saves a lot more plastic bags than a regular giftbag does. The second issue Irene addressed is: drinking water. After realizing that bottled water is a) 500 times more expensive than tap water, and b) that tap water is even healthier, Irene helped to realize the opening of a public tap on the Leidseplein by Join the Pipe in Amsterdam on World Water Day 2011. Therefore, this year, we drink tap water!

Only €1?
Lastly, Irene relentlessly looked for a suitable catering company, when one day, she ordered a caffé latté at i-Talia, at the Prinsenstraat in Amsterdam. She thought the latté was delicious and when she was only charged €1, asked: “Why do you only charge me €1?” One of the owners answered with: “Why should you pay more?” This raised her curiosity and she got involved in too exciting of a conversation, which resulted in i-Talia catering TEDxAmsterdam! The owners go to great lengths to source sustainable ingredients, have a thing for vegetarian food, and one of them previously worked at Greenpeace. Irene was hooked! And we’ll be too, after having tasted today’s lunch!

Irene concludes her engaging talk with a touch of realism. “Are we doing everything perfectly at TEDxAmsterdam? No, definitely not. But are we trying our best to organize it all in the most sustainable ways? Yes, we definitely do.” And… in the next 20 minutes you can enjoy a lunch that is: 1) healthy, 2) prepared with organic ingredients where possible, 3) served in mostly biodegradable bags and packaging, and 4) prepared in the most sustainable way. But, above all, it’s damn tasty!

Thanks so much, Irene, for taking the challenging task of making sustainability an important pillar in the organization of such an event! Now that’s another young change-maker we can all learn from.