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



The bathroom is one of the places, where I truly had a awakening moment when I first did my revision of plastic items in my environment. As I’m not a woman, who has lots of different make-ups, shower lotions, face creams/ lotions, etc., I think the transition was a bit easier. Before I started this journey, I already used soap bars, which came in carton boxes. Now, I’m even taking these soaps under a closer lens. What are the ingredients? Are they healthy for me and my hubby as well as for the environment? Using this approach I started to change the following items gradually. No, making these products is actually not as time-consuming as people think.

For my face wash I only had to purchase castor oil, as I had the other ingredient (Olive oil) already in my kitchen. At the beginning, I was kind of resistant in using oils to wash my face, but over time I have become convinced that this has been one of my favorite transitions. Having an oily skin type while living in a tropical climate is not always easy. I used a face scrub in the morning and evening not knowing the damages I was doing to my face. In the end, it actually became oilier and I needed to wipe my face with wipes quite frequently. It was quite frustrating, when you spend time going through aisles of products for oily-skin and then you achieve nothing. Its also not a very cheap option as you try different products and throw away what doesn’t work. Yes, I admit to having committed lots of plastic waste crimes in the paste in the name of beauty!

So here are some tips, which have worked for me….

  1. Cut down on the products you use 

Like I had said earlier, I have never really used lots of different creams, lotions, etc, so this process has been quite easy. Don’t start throwing everything away, but consider it a step by step process. Do you really need all the things you have in the bathroom? Is it good for you? Do you understand the ingredients you use on your skin? Check whether there are better natural options. My face wash also serves as a hair mask once a week.

  1. Make your own products

    (I found most ingredients in my kitchen). Remember that this is a learning process and some of the tips you might want to adjust to your own preferences.

Face wash: 30% Castor Oil, 70 % Olive Oil, Tee Tree Oil (optional)

Using the oil cleansing method for the past 1 year and 3 months has taught me so much more about my skin. I use it once in the morning with a hot wash cloth and that’s it. No more scrubbing, no more wiping for the rest of the day. Anyone who has oily skin knows about this. Check out the website for more details: The Oil Cleansing Method


Toothpaste: Baking Soda, Coconut Oil, Sea Salt, Peppermint essential oil (optional) Living in the country of production, we can get really good Coconut Oil locally without spending lots of money. As I am part of a Facebook group for healthy living in Bangkok, we ordered directly from the producer in bulk, so I am happy.

Baking soda can be bought in all stores, but it still comes in a plastic pouch. As I also use it for my deodorant and home cleaning products, the fact, that I use one item covered in plastic is ok for the moment, but will need to change this in the near future.

Deodorant: Cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil, tee tree essential oil (optional) I have been using it for the past 1 months and I’m truly happy about it. Just purchased organic bees wax, so I can turn it into a stick for my husband. As everyone reacts differently to the products, my hubby couldn’t really work well with the oil part.

Mouthwash: Sea Salt and Water

Body Scrubs: There are lots of wonderful recipes online and I will share the ones with you, which have become top of my list. For example my coffee scrub has become a favorite gift item for many friends, who can’t stop raving about it after using it. I get the coffee grounds for free at a local shop, then add some sea salt and coconut oil to it…. Be careful, you will never want to change!!! The smell of coffee in the shower is simply addictive!!

Insight: Coffee beans are a good source of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties, adding oil turns them into an incredible moisturizer.

Hair Rinse: Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon and Water

I have been using it for only a few weeks and I’m totally blown away. I didn’t believe it would get rid of my knots, which I tend to have after shampooing, but it has… Another homemade item, which will stay…. Now, I am also making my own vinegar thanks to my Kombucha Scoby cultures….

  1. Use bar soaps for everything


    Using plant based natural soaps is not only a better choice for you and your loved ones, but also for the environment. Petroleum based soaps take a long time to biodegrade!

You can either learn to make your own or visit local farmers or other markets to buy homemade soaps. Just make sure to check whether they are plant based and free of synthetic fragrances and colors. In Bangkok there has been a rising trend for it, so enjoy the variety. I did attend a soap making workshop, but soon realized, that it was too time-intensive for me and I rather support the local economy. This could be a wonderful birthday gift as well to share with friends and family.

Struggles to date (please help and share your insights): Shampoo (I simply don’t see myself trying the No Poo method on my hair, as it is already quite delicate; Sun tan lotion (living in a tropical country, this is one of the most hazardous and chemical damages we do to our water), …..

As this is only the first guide, please stay put for other ideas/ tips. We haven’t completed the bathroom section yet, as we still have the toilet paper, feminine products, shaving cream, razors, …. But, since this is a journey and I am also a working woman, I will share once I have gained more knowledge about this.

However, I would love to hear more from you. Have you gone green in your bathroom? What have you changed? How has the transition been?