My 7R’s (Rethink, reduce, refuse, reuse, repair, recycle and rot)

Infinite Growth Economy in a finite planet and why we cannot continue like this: Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. Moderate scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by 2030, we will need the equivalent of two earths to support us. Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.

Knowing this might be quite overwhelming for many of us and often it requires a bit of an effort to get us to step out of our comfort zones. Especially now with the Covid 19 Pandemia keeping us at home and helping us to wake, seeing that life and the planet cannot continue as before.

Are you ready to CHANGE?

When I started my #zerowaste journey over 5 years ago, I was inspired by Bea Johnson who managed to fit her waste of a family of 4 plus a dog into a jar. I read her book the Zero Waste Home and started applying and adapting her 6R’s into my life. Well, ever since this Logo was created by my incredible students, it has changed quite a bit.

The majority of readers know the 3R’s, which are #reduce, #reuse, and #recycle. Well, with the current recycling rates around 9 – 20% I don’t think we are doing a great job. Also, this year I learned that a lot of the well-known Recycling countries have been successfully shipping off their recycling to developing countries, who already struggle to take care of their own waste. So, as you can see we all need to make some serious changes. Feel free to amend these options to your own lifestyle, create a community of sharing and caring around you….. let’s not do this alone!

  • Rethink your lifestyle! Look at what you already have, whether its in your kitchen cupboards, your closets, hidden somewhere in a storage area. Having access to online shops as well as the continued flow of social media on beautiful products, you need to start to analyse how much you actually need.
  • Rot/ Compost your organic waste! There are lots of myths around composting in an urban environment, but sometimes its overcoming a personal comfort zone and welcoming these changes into your life. Working on a Youtube Video, which might help you get started today?
  • Refuse what you don’t need: “Just say no to single use plastics!” (#Plastic bags, #plasticstraws, Styrofoam containers and  cups) – Especially during the Covid 19 Pandemia, the single use waste is increasing tremendously, because producers claim that plastic is the go-to hygienic material. It’s not easy, but let’s work on it together.

– Free Gifts (Yes, we all love them, but do we actually use them or do they pile at home, getting dusty and then later end up in a landfill damaging the environment? )

  • Reduce what you don’t need

– minimalism lifestyle, downsizing, sharing what you no longer need with your family, friends or local community. So far, I have found Online Facebook Groups, where I was able to either giveaway, sell or buy second hand items while selling/ giving away what I no longer needed)

  • Reuse what you already have (find different uses)

– shop with reusable items, second hand markets (online/ offline), clothing swaps,

  • Repair what is broken and avoid buying new

– clothing, shoes, computer, etc.  (While living in Bangkok and now in Barcelona, I have found local shops to repair my shoes, mend some clothing and even get to repair my phone/ computer.)

  • Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, reuse, or reuse (try to aim to recycle less)

Ask yourself, where does all your stuff end up? Can it be useful for someone else? Can it be upcycled? Reused? Repaired?

Are you ready to CHANGE?

Living mindfully #1

I was born and raised in East Germany until I was about 14/15 years old. I moved to the US in 1995, a few years after the Berlin Wall had come down. Since then I have been living in 5 different countries and visited more than 30 others in the process. I started the #zerowaste movement in Bangkok about 4-5 years ago after seeing the devastation at the beaches. Since November 2019, I am living in Barcelona facing other struggles to live a zero waste lifestyle.  

Here are some tips: 

Face Cleansing – The majority of Face cleansers contain lots of bad chemicals and in the end do more harm than good. When a friend had mentioned about the Oil cleansing method ( I was a bit reluctant of the fact, that I had oily skin and couldn’t image washing it with Oil in order to improve the condition, but I thought what did I have to loose actually. 

My personal mix:

7 tbsp – Olive Oil 

3 tbsp – Castor Oil

More details on this video:

Oil Cleansing Method

Sometimes I add Vitamin E or Rosehip Oil for additional benefits, but it all depends whether I have it at home or not. I started using the Oil Cleansing method September 2015 and wouldn’t dream of ever using anything else again. I have never really had issues with my skin expect for the oiliness throughout the entire day. But that’s all gone, which is fantastic!

I use two fingertips in the morning rubbing it in evenly, then washing it off with a hot wash cloth – it’s amazing, my pores have become much smaller and I am oil free for the whole day. In the evening, I sometimes use my homemade apple cider vinegar to cleanse my face. I don’t use any additional moisturiser since I started using this method. 

Project Koh Sak Feb ’17 ++

(Photo Credit: Mahidol University International College)

And the journey continues… this past February ’17 I decided to stay the whole weekend on the island of Koh Sak. Just reaching the pier the first day already put me into shock… a constant flow of incoming tourist buses unloading thousands and thousands of Chinese tourists. It’s not only about the size of the groups I was concerned about, but also about the infrastructure of the pier and everything else. Transporting such large groups at such fast pace has certain downsides…. Reaching the island this time was yet another shock to the system, even though at this stage I should be used to it already. The teams separated into two groups and did remarkable research work during the morning hours….

As always upon arrival to the island, we would separate into different groups and collect the waste found on the beach. You have to imagine, that the temperatures would often reach around 35 – 40 degrees, so we always started early and took lots of water breaks. People often think that the collection is easy, but it’s not only the plastic bottles, cleaning products, straws, cotton buds, cups and more we looked for, but also #microplastics. Dr Wayne Phillips (Professor at MUIC), would often return with the microplastics and put them into different sizes and count even those.

It was a tiring process, but much needed. We cannot start working on solutions, if we don’t know what the problem is and where it starts.

Watch the pics and see how the story unfolds…

#education #plastic #waste #rethink #reduce #refuse #noplastic #nowaste #mindful #consumption #experiental #learning #handson

Endlich mal was vernuenftiges im Fernsehen…; German T.V. highlights problems with plastic packaging.

Sometimes I just want to pack my suitcase and move to a country, where awareness is a few steps ahead of Bangkok. Its not easy to live in a city, where plastic awareness and education are still at stone age level… sometimes frustrating, but focusing on the positive things which have come out in the process.

Plastic Free July: how to stop being so ignorant about your plastic consumption.

Hoping that more people in Bangkok will join the plastic free movement, as we are drowning in plastic waste all over the country.

The Zero Journey

Plastic Free July posts are popping up all over the place, which makes me so happy!  Recently, a friend and fellow blogger notified me she had signed up for the challenge to see how well she could do; I was thrilled for her, as she has been very involved with mindfulness, as well as practicing kind habits for the environment.

Plastic Free July is an awesome incentive to get people thinking about the amount of plastic waste they produce, and start thinking about ways they can reduce this harmful product.  However, it still upsets me greatly that a lot of people, quite frankly, do not give a shit.  They would rather continue to live in ignorance and not accept their environmental responsibility.  This is shocking to me because they do not understand how easy it really is; how one little change can have such a positive impact on the planet…

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Shower Gel – Do it yourself!!


For some time already, we have been using natural soap bars at home in order to avoid the shower gels, which come in a plastic bottle. Apart from the plastic packaging, we have also started to realize the amount of chemicals which are being used in the production process. We both decided it would be a good time to start living without plastic packaging and chemicals. Living in Bangkok, we have been coming across a wide variety of great natural soaps, so the transition period has been easier than expected.

As I am the more zero waste person in the household most of the new homemade products have been a blessing for me. My husband still misses his shower gel, so I started to do some research and found something worth trying out. Remember, that any recipe you try out will still require some time from you as well as some personal adjustments, because everyone has different preferences….

As castile soap is quite pricey in Bangkok, I have tried the recipe with the natural soaps, which I have purchased locally and it has worked for us.

What you need (apart from the natural soap):

  • sharp knife or grater
  • large pot
  • funnel
  • whisk

You can either use a glass flip top bottle or a recycled shower gel/ shampoo plastic bottle from before (Gel must be cooled down before using a plastic bottle in order to avoid leakage of chemicals). Some people prefer not to have glass bottles in their shower in case of breakage. There is nothing wrong to up cycle some existing products.

Depending on where you purchase your soap, the recipe will require some adjustments. Here is what has worked for me so far:

  • Cut 100 grams of soap into smaller pieces (Soft soaps work well with a knife whereas you would use a grater for the harder soaps)
  • Add the soap pieces to the pot with 500 ml water. Soap should dissolve quite fast and become bubbly. Make sure to stir constantly! It shouldn’t burn to the bottom of the pot.
  • After the soap has dissolved, the mixture could still be quite liquid. Let it sit for a while, but continue stirring. It will turn eventually into a gel type liquid.
  • Let the mixture sit over night and stir it the next day. In case you are not satisfied with it, you can either add more water or soap.
  • Fill the bottle to 3 parts with the gel, but leave some space in case it turns harder over the next few days. You can always add some hot water!

If you prefer a creamier shower gel, then you could blend it in the mixer for about one minute.

Additional treatment options:

  • Replace the water with natural tea (chamomile, lime blossoms, sage, thyme) – works well as an anti-inflammatory
  • Add two tbsp of either coconut, – olive, or almond oil, then add it to the mixer – especially for people with dry skin

As you can see, making your own Shower gel is easy and you will actually know about every single ingredient in it. Have you tried it already? If yes, what have you used? What has worked for you? Would love to hear more about your experiences…

Would love to learn more from this community. What has worked for you?

Cleaning products – “I’m scared”…

Cleaning products – “I’m scared”…

Have you ever looked at the ingredients of your home cleaning products? Do you know what you are actually cleaning with? Is it safe for you and your family (pets included)? I have always believed that the definition of clean (free from dirt, pollutants or harmful substances – Oxford English Dictionary) would be quite straightforward until I started to take a closer look.

During my life in Communist Germany (up to 1989), we didn’t have nearly as many cleaning products as there are today. Speaking to older generations, it seems that about 50 – 60 years ago people had used basics such as baking soda, vinegar, alcohol, soap, salt, etc to lift stains, polish wood, repel pests, and deodorize and disinfect every surface. What has happened? 

“The dawn of the chemical age followed quickly on the heels of World War II, instigated by war-related research and a host of ‘new and improved’ products like cleaners, plastics and disposable goods that quickly became symbols of American prosperity and modern luxury, along with advertising slogans like ‘better living through chemistry’. Vinegar and soap were out, chlorine and synthetic, petroleum-based detergents were in. The modern marvel of petrochemical wonders made domestic chores a breeze. Who needs elbow grease when chemicals will do the work for you? As America’s economy bloomed, so did the dizzying array of cleaning products on supermarket shelves, backed by big business’s muscles and marketing genius, and tried-and true methods were subjugated to the products of the chemical revolution. ” (Renee Loux, Author – Easy Green Living)


It is time to take a closer look at our cleaning cabinets, rething and start using greener and environmental friendlier solutions. It’s not just about saving animal species, but also about enjoying a quality of life and health that are worth passing on to future generations. Why not return to the basics? 

Green guidelines (if you don’t understand the label, then don’t buy it!!!):

  • Plant based
  • Solvent free
  • Phosphate free
  • Chlorine free
  • Biodegradable
  • Ammonia free
  • No synthetic fragrances or dyes

Look for these words on your product labels! Start a greener lifestyle and save money at the same time …. Your health, wallet and environment will thank you for it.

If you want to take it a step further, then try making the following homemade cleaning products with the basics from the past. I have been using them for some time already and loving it. Apart from having a toxic free home environment I am also able to save a lot of money.

DIY cleaning products:

  1. Drain cleaner: 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar, boiling water

Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain. After 30 minutes add some boiling water!!! It works like magic!


2. All purpose cleaner: White vinegar, lemon or orange peels (measurement up to you)

In a pint size mason jar, combine the peels of about 2 oranges or 4-5 limes/ lemons and cover them with white vinegar. After letting them sit in a sunny windowsill for about a week, remove some of the liquid. You can leave the rest to continue brewing for a few more weeks as it’ll continue to get stronger. Simply put some of your new homemade all purpose cleaner into a spray bottle and clean like normal.

For me, it worked as you would expect and had a pleasant citrus aroma that I really enjoyed, much better than the chemical smell of some harsh cleaners! Use a squirt bottle for optimal usage. (I have been using an old plastic spray bottle from before)


3. Black Tea Window Cleaner:  Brew strong black tea (I normally brew extra black tea, when I’m preparing my Kombucha) Allow to fully cool, about an hour or two, then transfer cleaner to spray bottle or dip cotton cloth into solution. Clean your windows and wipe them dry with a towel. If you have dirty windows, you might need a second application.

As you can see from the ingredients, most of them contain baking soda,  vinegar, fruit peels or even tea. For the past few months I have also been making my own vinegar from extra Kombucha scobys, so I can avoid the plastic bottles from the supermarket. Sounds time-consuming, but its actually not. The Scoby works on its own (20-30 days) and the home-cleaning products get whipped together in an instant.

I will continue to add more recipes as I move forward …. Please feel free to share what has worked for you….. any recipes you would like to share? Looking forward to learning from each other.