ideas, projects, initiatives

Bin art in Melbourne

Oops, and she did it again – Yep, I’m pleading guilty, I got eaten up by lazyness and didn’t update ingloriousplastics. One of the reasons for this can be found on the other side of the world – I visited my lovely Aussie family/in-laws in Australia (or to be precise I ate my way through Aussieland) for the first time in 3 1/2 years. While stopping in Melbourne for a couple of days I noticed these funny pieces of “bin art”. I can’t think of any better way to motivate people not to litter. And this is just one of the reasons why I love Australia! To be continued soon – and this time I mean it. I’ve got lots of ideas and recipes waiting for you!

masterpiece of bin art

masterpiece of bin art

... and more

… and more

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Odd little friends

Why we should all love “Culinary Misfits”

Can you remember the last time you entered a supermarket and bought an oddly shaped potato or a carrot that didn’t look perfectly straight? I can’t. For a long time I did most of my shopping at the supermarket next door – just because I was a little lazy. Since I became more aware of environmental issues, it really bothered me that fruits and vegetables always looked so artificial and perfect. I asked myself: What happens to the odd ones out? What happens to non-perfect-looking fruits and vegetables?

I guess we all know the answer: They get thrown out. No matter how much you standardize and industrialize the process of food production, you will still end up with “products” that don’t match the criteria and end up in the bin. The Berlin-based initiative “CulinARy MiSfiTS” draws attention to this problem. Their conviction: Fruits and veggies do not have to look perfect to be perfectly healthy and delicious. I totally agree.

All shapes are beautiful

All shapes are beautiful

So while “Culinary Misfits” try everything to convince supermarkets to sell “odd produce” and to educate people about food and cooking, we can all do our bit next time we go shopping: Choose a place that sells all shapes fruits and vegetables and choose a product that does not look perfect. I bet you can’t taste the difference!

Btw: You can even do that at your local supermarket: Buy a banana that looks a little bit too ripe, choose an apple with a brown spot, take a potato with a tiny imperfection. What helped me overcome the all to natural feeling of going for the best was the following thought: If I don’t buy it, the chances are it gets thrown out.

ingloriousplastics on the road

Well, actually “on the road” might imply that I am physically travelling, which I’m not. I did, however, broaden my horizon: That means from now on you can find my thoughts on plastic on The bird’s new nest, a green lifestyle magazine.

autorenbutton

My first text on The bird’s new nest went online today. I’m so excited! Here’s the link. So if you can understand German, I would be happy if you checked it out and left a comment. P.S. I’m sure you will find loads of other interesting articles there as well!

Send me your plastic-free recipes

Plastic-free cooking – A blog event by ingloriousplastics

blog event

One year ago I started ingloriousplastics. More than 120 blog posts later I couldn’t be happier about the journey I took. I learnt so much about living without plastic, avoiding packaging and following a greener lifestyle. I also got to know so many inspiring people who share my ideas about the environment and reducing packaging (I just started writing a column The bird’s new nest, an online magazine focussing on a sustainable lifestyle.) And I really hope I could inspire you, too!

As I want to celebrate ingloriousplastics’ birthday in a proper way I had an idea – and I really hope you can help me. How about you send me your plastic-free recipes?

How to participate:

  • Publish a blog post between today and the 1st of March 2014. Your post can be written in any language and your dish can contain any ingredients you like. As I’m a veggie and I would love to try some of your recipes, I would be happy though if you could come up with a vegetarian or vegan recipe. But in the end this is up to you. The only really important thing is that you don’t use ANY plastic packaging for cooking your dish. It would be great if you could include a little description where you bought your ingredients, but this is optional. Here’s an example how you can do that.
  • Link to this announcement.
  • Comment on this announcement.

I will collect all the links and pictures and put together a blog post presenting all your recipes. The blog post will go online on Wednesday the 5th of March 2013. I will also create a Pinterest board and a photo album on my ingloriousplastics Facebook page. Every recipe will also be included in a Twitter post.

So what are you waiting for? I’m so excited to try out your recipes! If you have any questions or you need any advice regarding where to buy certain things etc., please let me know! And feel free to share this. The more the merrier ­čÖé

Scrub it off!

How to avoid micro-plastic in cosmetics

Who doesn’t love scrubs? They just make your skin feel so nice and soft and so incredibly smell good (Eeehm I’m not talking about the TV show, guys…). But did you also know that they end up in honey, drinking water or fish?

The micro-particles in body scrubs are often made of plastic. So are the so-called “pearls” in certain toothpaste brands or the micro-particles in a number of other cosmetics. Micro-particles are so tiny that purification plants can’t get them out of the water. Often you can hardly see them, but eventually they end up in the sea, in organisms and even on your plate and in your drinking water. At the moment nobody even knows how micro-plastic will affect the environment in the future.

For a long time I wasn’t aware that there wasn’t only plastic on the outside of cosmetics (I mean the packaging), but also inside my shower gel or my foundation. Due to sensitive skin and my determination to reduce packaging I pretty much swapped all my cosmetics for natural alternatives within the past year. But when I checked this list a friend sent me today I couldn’t believe that the mascara I used for a long time actually contained plastic. I’m glad I ditched it.

a delicious eco-friendly alternative: homemade scrub

a delicious eco-friendly alternative: homemade scrub

If you want to do something as well, swap your old cosmetics for more eco-friendly alternatives. Such a small thing to do, such a big effect! This list will help. Otherwise check for polyethylene glycol (PEG) in the list of ingredients. You can even make your own body scrubs. It saves you loads of money and your skin will love the natural ingredients. I put together a big jar of body scrub with a bit of sugar, honey, olive oil and lemon juice. I found a fantastic list of body scrub recipes here. Beautyblunders’ list is just awesome and for all those of you who wanna give it a shot – it includes a lot of vegan scrub options, too.

What do you think about the micro-plastic issue? Did you know about it? And would you swap your cosmetics? Would love to hear from you about this!

Going green in Vienna

Tips for an eco-friendly weekend in Austria’s beautiful capital

Karlskirche

From organic soap heaven to upcycled decoration ideas – I had no idea Vienna would give me so much inspiration for ingloriousplastics. I went there in December (This was one of the reasons why I didn’t update my blog for a while) and absolutely loved it. The moment I stumbled out of the train I knew there were a bunch of things I would have to share with you. So here they are – my belated green travel tips for Vienna. I wouldn’t consider them a proper list of advice, it’s more like a little (very limited) collection of impressions.

Getting started: The city of Vienna offers an entire (!) website dedicated to “Weniger Mist” (less dirt) including tips on avoiding waste, eco-friendly grocery shopping and recycling. I found it to be a great resource. Unfortunately it’s only available in German.

Useful phrase: Kein Sackerl, bitte ­čÖé (No bag, please)

One of the first things I noticed: Vienna is home to the world’s most creative rubbish bins. That made me smile instantly.

creative rubbish bins

But encouraging bins weren’t the only thing that made me love this city. As a foodie one of my first destinations (after a visit to Konditorei Demel) was the Naschmarkt. From fruits, veggies and staples to exotic spices, fresh homemade pasta, dips and sweets, there is nothing you can’t find at this bustling place. There a lot of veggie and vegan options as well – and if you want to buy dips, olives and antipasti, you can of course bring your own container. In the middle of the market you can also find a little health shop with lots of organic and veggie products and a fair-trade chocolate shop called the Schoko Company. And make sure you try some things at the many food stalls!

Naschmarkt1 Naschmarkt2 Naschmarkt3 Naschmarkt4 Naschmarkt5 Naschmarkt6 Naschmarkt7 Naschmarkt8 Naschmarkt9

My best discovery, however, was definitely the little organic soap shop in the middle of the market. Alles Seife sells handmade natural soaps – a lot of them with certified organic ingredients – for all sorts of purposes (including shampoo soaps, shaving soaps, bath soaps, body butter, body scrub soap etc.). I couldn’t believe my luck. Ever since my skin revolted against Lush’s shampoo soaps, I’ve been trying to find a natural, plastic-free alternative. I bought an alge shampoo soap and a cinnamon hand soap for test purposes (at a very reasonable price, too) and I instantly became a fan of Alles Seife. Fortunately they have an online shop and if you live in the EU or Switzerland you can get their lovely soaps sent to your place.

Alles Seife1 Alles Seife2 Alles Seife3

The next thing that absolutely blew my mind was the Christmas market in front of Karlskirche. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a market as creative as this one (not to mention the impressive scenery!) The trees and benches had colourful “knitted dresses”, most of the stalls offered handmade (and even upcycled) products and the foodie stalls offered many regional and organic choices. Unfortunately you have to wait for another year for the next Christmas market to open, but check out the images and keep it in mind!

Market1 Market2 Market3 Market4 Market5

And if that wasn’t enough to convince me I suddenly spotted the coolest merry-go-round I had ever seen in my life. Bird cages, bicylces, old boxes – It was made entirely from trash. The kids seemed to love it just as much as I did.

Market6

On the way back to my place I stumbled upon another cool idea – using wine corks for decorating Christmas trees. I spotted this upcycled tree on Stephansplatz.

upcylced tree

Tired from walking around all day (no need for public transport, it’s very easy to explore Vienna on foot) I had a relaxed dinner at Sch├Âne Perle, a laid-back restaurant specializing in modern Austrian cuisine. They use a lot of regional and some organic ingredients and there are really good vegetarian options, too. On my way back home I would have loved to try a cookie from the “Kekstauschb├Ârse” (cookie swap) some kids seem to have organized. Unfortunately I was a bit late, so no cookie for me – but lots of love for such a creative city.

cookie swap

Of course there is so much more to see (I didn’t even start listing the sights…), but I hope that if you plan on going to Vienna this would help you a bit.

Packaging vs. product

What would you base your decision on?

A typical situation in my life: I’m going shopping and I need, let’s say, pasta. I used to buy organic brown pasta. When I decided to say goodbye to plastic, this suddenly wasn’t an option anymore and I had to go for a non-organic pasta brand (Barilla pasta and some other brands come in cardboard boxes for example). Guess why.

It makes absolutely no sense, but most organic products come in plastic. This is a problem I’ve been dealing with since I started my challenge. I decided it was about time to write about it. When it comes to fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, the situation is particularly bad. In order to be able to distinguish the organic from the non-organic products most supermarket chains in Germany decided to wrap all the organic fruits and vegetables in plastic. I watched a documentary about this recently and a manager from a big chain explained that they were only wrapping the organic veggies rather than the other vegetables because it would be more eco-friendly than doing it the other way round.

What to buy?

What to buy?

Sounds confusing? It is! Fortunately the fruit and veggie problem is relatively easy to solve – I just buy organic fruit on markets and in organic-only supermarkets instead. But there are some other products like the above-mentioned organic pasta (pasta is only one example, the list is pretty much endless.) that forced me to ask myself: Am I gonna go for the better product OR the better packaging?

Where can I draw the line? Is non-organic pasta in more eco-friendly packaging better than organic pasta in plastic? Am I doing more damage by focussing too much on packaging? Why can’t the label “organic” and “fair-trade” include packaging? And why are so many organic supermarkets full of plastic?

Has anyone experienced the same? Let me know your thoughts on this!