LIVING LIGHT
Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #2: Zero Waste Living: The 80:20 Way!

January 21, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
The Busy Person's Guide to a Lighter Footprint is what Stephanie J Miller has subtitled her little book Zero Waste Living: The 80/20 Way. In this blog, we review this book for you and we point to some other recent similar and useful resources! So, in case you are looking for something to read that can help you sort your thinking about Living Light, this is the blog to read.
What does Zero Waste mean in the first place? Zero-waste living is essentially about avoiding to send things to the landfill. Easily said. But how is it done? Nothing looked like zero waste when I looked at our bins right after the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Is it impossible in today's world? How can one avoid waste given that everything seems to come with extra packages, wrappings, decorations, stuff? The Three Rs of waste management—reduce, reuse, recycleseem to be tough, if not impossible, to achieve. This is one of the reasons why the Zero Waste Movement has added two more verbs to that list: refuse, reduce, reuse, compost, and recycle. Across the world countries vary significantly in the waste they produce (per capita), and this simple fact suggests that a lot can be done by lifestyle choices, cultures, and the systems we live in. The US produces more municipal waste than any other country, with 740kg/person, but Austria is not far behind with some 570kg/person. So, let's figure out how to reduce this!

Did we really need ALL this plastic?
How do we get to zero, or even just less, waste? Well, we are not the only people asking ourselves the how question. When googling zero waste or zero waste books, I found literally hundreds of references. With the US leading the world in per capita waste production, they also seem to top the list of authors of zero waste books and guides. Katie Couric, a well known American journalist, recently asked the question of How to Live a Zero Waste Life in her own blog and got some good tips from three experts. A list of 10 good and recent books on the topic can be found at ZerowasteMemoires, a blog that also provides many practical tips, from how to do shopping to how to do mopping while creating less waste. They all make one main point, apart from many specific tips: Zero Waste is a pathway and not a state. It's about getting to less more than necessarily getting to zero.
In her book, Zero Waste Living: The 80/20 Way, Stephanie J. Miller makes an even more encouraging point. Often, even just 20 percent of our actions are responsible for 80 percent of our impact. This 80/20 idea is a general rule of thumb that applies in business as much as in the environment. Why did we recommend and review her book? Because she takes an incredibly practical and no-nonsense approach to exploring how to find and change this 20 percent of her own lifestyle to get to more zero-waste living. As a finance professional who afforded herself a gap year, Stephanie went about researching what the normal busy person can do in their daily live. She came up with practical ideas to get started across three main areas: 1) reducing food waste, 2) purging plastics, and 3) recycling right. And so, there was no complete overhaul of life, but rather choices that makes sense, are doable, and often even much healthier.
Interesting facts to remember from what Stephanie's book tells us? Firstly, if global food waste - just the waste, not the consumption - were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after the US and China). Even across the EU, about half of all the food purchased ends up being thrown away, some of it in the process of production, distribution and sales but much also in households. Reducing one's food waste is therefore a really easy way to help safeguarding our planet. Stephanie's book has good tips for how to do this: managing one's fridge and freezer better, shopping and cooking (slightly) differently, storing and sharing, and so on. All of her tips lead quite easily to reducing waste. The second fact worthwhile to remember: As a society, we have been using plastic in our daily lives for less than 30 or 40 years. The US's biggest supermarket chains replaced paper bags with plastic bags only in 1982. The (over)use of plastic seems indeed completely changeable. Also here, Stephanie provides a number of good tips - all of them in the refuse waste category. And really, it's very doable - particularly for those of us who, like myself, grew up 50+ years ago. 
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Purchasing Zero Waste Living: The 80/20 Way will set you back €4 for the Kindle version and €9 when purchased as a paperback. One thing to note: Stephanie's book is written from the perspective of an American citizen living in Washington DC. You will find that some of the things she describes are slightly different here in Vienna (e.g., waste collection, composting options, zero-packaging shops). Throughout our upcoming blogs, we will provide you with information on how and where to do these things in Vienna.
A final word in the spirit of full disclosure: I know the author personally through one my previous jobs. And I can vouch for the fact that she is not an ideologue but rather someone who came to the insight that the planet needs protecting from a finance and investment perspective. Her rational cost/benefit views shape the book and its tips and tricks. So, some of you may enjoy this more than others. Over the coming months, we will review other books and resources, too. Stay tuned!

Blog #1: "Living Light" at Christ Church Vienna

January 15, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Welcome to this first blog in our new Living Light blog series. This first blog will give you some background on why, as an Anglican, you might want to consider ways to lighten your environmental footprint.
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Why should you care? Our planet is in a dire situation. Many planetary resources have been overused. In effect, we are borrowing from our own future. The way we have organised our lives, the lifestyles we aspire to, and our own choices, play a big part in the use and overuse of resources such as fossil fuels, fish and seafood, forest products, meat, cereals, land, and water, while also polluting much of the remaining resources. Overuse and pollution take different forms in different locations, of course. Yet, living in a globalised world means that we are connected to choices made by industries and individuals in many other countries around the world. We all have a part to play in bringing about change.
Anglicans have long been concerned with environmental issues. From extreme weather to food shortages, all of us are affected. Guided by the fifth of the Marks of Mission, we strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the earth and its environmental resources. As a community and as individuals, we can take action that reflects our commitment to safeguarding God's creation: personal action, political action, economic action.
Will we make a difference? The jury is out! We may be just like the proverbial hummingbird, doing what we can, but let’s not forget: It was the hummingbird that inspired Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai to set up the successful Green Belt Movement in Kenya. In the spirit of Wangari’s work, we prefer to think about our chances to make a difference. As Margaret Meade would have us believe: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
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As a community, the first and easiest way to contribute to safeguarding our environment is to lighten the footprint we, ourselves, leave behind, by being mindful of (and perhaps more efficient in) our energy use, the food we eat, the waste we create, and so on. Why does our footprint matter? The concept of environmental footprint is based on the notion that, in the course of living our lives, we take things (from the environment) and leave things behind as we eat, consume, move around, use energy, build and live in houses or flats (and churches) and so on.
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Living Light will provide you with regular tips and tricks on how to change the profile and the depth of your environmental footprint right here, in Vienna. In today’s world, living light goes well beyond the jute bags of the 1980s. There are fun, interesting, and convenient ways of making small changes in one’s habits, choices, and ways of living and working that can have a big impact. And the best part is that when we live light, it is often better not just for the planet but also for everyone’s health! So, what better way to start the new year than by committing to living lightly.