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 #46: Lock-down again - with eco-boxes for take-out food? 

November 25, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
It’s lock-down time again in Austria! Our hearts go out to everyone who is sick and needs care, and to all of those doing heroic work in rescue services, hospitals and intensive care units. Most of us will be lucky enough to only be affected by the rules restricting contact, shopping, restaurant visits and entertainment, and hopefully our jobs are still intact or being supported, but even all that is difficult for many, and loneliness can be hard to bear. As we get together as a community to find our paths through these trying times, there is one aspect of the lock-down that often gets overlooked but is worthwhile considering: More of us work from home, more of us resort to picking up our meals from restaurants, and the packaging coming with these meals ends up clogging our waste bins. In Austria, packaging waste generated by households has grown by some  20% through the lockdown situation over the past 18 months, even though, of course, commercially generated waste went down somewhat at the same time. Vienna’s competent and much beloved department for waste collection - the 48ers - are apparently weathering the storms well. But it’s still up to us - and our choices - to actively keep the waves of waste at bay. One way to do so is to take a good look at where you are ordering your meals!
This blog will introduce you to three opportunities available in Vienna that will make it easier for you to find and select your meals in ways that keep the waste you create at bay.
Firstly, there is SKOONU. A startup that launched about a year ago, SKOONU provides their partner restaurants with a choice of re-usable containers and dishes; restaurants that sign up will then provide you with your food in the SKOONU dishes, and you get to return them after you had your meal - not only at the restaurant where you ordered but also at any other SKOONU partner restaurant. You can find a list of participating restaurants on the SKOONU website. There is also an app that you can use to order directly from any of them; I could not test it myself since I have a US-based phone, but the online reviews look great.
Secondly, there is Vytal. Originally a German start-up, they work across multiple cities and countries and have launched their services here in Vienna this summer. Just like SKOONU, also Vytal has partner restaurants equipped with their re-usable containers and dishes, an app that one can use to order from participating restaurants, and a system that allows you to return your used dishes at any of the participating restaurants within two weeks of using them.  Nice feature of the app: They remind you to bring back the containers that you borrowed when getting your food.  The app has a number of other nice features, such as showing partner restaurants close to you (for pick up), or walking you through the steps for using lieferando through their app. I tried it, and it works effortlessly.

Foto: The yummie mediterranean food I orderd through Vytal came in firm plastic boxes that I now get to return at any participating partner restaurants (or where it came from).  

Thirdly, there are a number of specific restaurants and services committed to deploying re-usable boxes that they will take back. One of them is the webrestaurant  of CateringsolutionsGbmH; they have a set menu with 5-6 choices each day, and you need to pre-order a few days ahead, but they deliver food all across Vienna. Another option is the vegetarian restaurant VEGIRANT in the 9th district; their food will also arrive in multi-use containers (they deliver as of five orders, I believe). And if you want to think beyond packaging but also consider ecologically sourced food: Restaurants like iss mich!** Bio-Catering und Lieferservic and Rita bringt’s make not only an effort in terms of the packaging, and they use bicycles for delivery services, but they also source only eco-agri products for their meals.
So there are plenty of choices for you while in lockdown, and at multiple price levels. Want to try something new? Go for it - and tell us how you liked it!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Blog #45: Which Christkindl market…?

November 18, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
We are still deep in November, American Thanksgiving is a good week away, and yet Vienna has started its very own Christmas Season six weeks before the actual Christmas Day. Street decorations have gone up, with stars and angels in LED formats everywhere, and the shops have quickly switched from autumn themes to the red-and-green-and-white that Western culture associates with festivities around Jesus’ birth. Go, figure. Soon we will also begin to see stressed shoppers, stressed shop keepers, and all of this overlaid with sweet smells and holiday music in the background, conspiring to take us and our minds away from the actual purpose of these days.
Christkindl Markets are, for me, among the more enjoyable parts of these pre-season days. One goes there often with family or friends, enjoys Austrian street-food, and oftentimes one finds quirky and unique thingamajigs that can be even useful or otherwise nice to have. The most immediate question, right now of course, is whether or not and if so for how long the markets will remain open: The rising COVID numbers have already compelled authorities in Southern Germany to close down many markets in Bavaria, including Munich.  But there is also another question, for those of us wanting to make lifestyle and life choices that are compatible with planetary health is worth considering: Which among the many Christmas markets are good to visit, from the perspective of climate change or environmental impacts?
Surprise! There are several options!  My favorite one is the Christkindl Market arranged by - or rather: within - the 48er Tandler.  If you are not familiar with the 48er Tandler - do make sure you learn about it: Its one of Vienna’s minor miracles, and really something that can only exist here, in the city that loves living in the past more than anything else. The 48er is the Vienna’s much beloved department for waste management, and they run a rather large store of things that others have disposed of. That store is full of wondrous things even at regular times - from bicycles through to ovens or bookshelves; you can seemingly get endless surprise choices there.  For Christmas, though, they outdo themselves, Wednesdays through Saturdays, between 10 and 18, over in the 5th district in Siebenbrunnenfeldgasse 3. You can find second (or third or fourth) hand seasonal decorations and nativity plays, re-usable X-mas trees, and all sorts of goodies as presents. One specifically smart present: Euro 5 vouchers for shopping at the 48-er Tandler, a gift with eco-side benefits in my view.... You can give them to your favorite aunt or niece - and maybe introduce them to the joys of  shopping in the past..
Another sure way to choose or shape Christkindl Market experience from an ecological perspective is to focus on options that involve local producers. Look out for the smaller design or creative-arts options. Some such offers are available on most of the markets - but a few markets are also rather specialized in this regard.  The Art Advent Markt on Karlsplatz - open from 12pm - 8pm daily, between November 19 and December 23, has a great selection, and so does the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt, open from 10 am - 9 pm, on Freyung Wien.  The Alm Advent takes place right in front of the Messe Wien - and there you can not only shop products from local crafts(wo)men but there is also a make-your-own handicraft workshop on offer for the kids (open from 3pm -6:30pm on weekdays and sundays from 11am-6:30pm).  Also city-wide famous for the number of local creative products are the Christkindlmarkt on Spittelberg and the offers one can find at the WeihnachtsQuartier im MQ, right in the middle of the Museumsquarter.  Here, 80 smaller local outfits will offer their goods. And there is more, much more: For a full list of 23 Christkindl Markets across Vienna, check out meinbezirk.at. COVID rules apply - and so the markets that I have visited in the last days seem to have been less busy and, to be frank, more enjoyable. Slow-going. Seasonal.
As a rule of thumb, wherever you go, the most eco-friendly ways of enjoying Christkindl Markets involves five principles. Firstly, getting there (and leaving) on foot, bike or by public transport. Secondly, shopping only what was locally or fair-trade produced. Thirdly, minimizing waste (e.g. no plastic cups or plastic cutlery). Fourthly, staying away from things that one does not really need. And, lastly, donating if you so please, toward something that marries social causes with environmental causes.
Have you found a particularly eco-friendly Christkindl Market or a specific stand at a specific market? Tell us, or write a little note about it. We’d love to expand what we know?
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Blog#44: Good News from Glasgow

November 11, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Under normal circumstances, today’s Blog would reflect on St Martin (of Tours) - the famous and much loved saint of the fourth century, a former soldier and later on a Bishop, known for his generosity toward the poor. In the Anglican church we remember him and his life on November 11, and in Austria we see his name associated with many local traditions, including those of feasting on roast Goose. In fact, all through November, Austrians will eat - and invite each other to join - at least one Martini Gans. And under normal circumstances, this Blog would have reflected on options we have to purchase such a goose from an eco-Goose farm.  The Blog would then have noted that these eco-Geese having become are very popular and been pre-ordered many months ago.  And we would have also reported that the Geese eaten by Austrians, contrary to what is often believed, are mostly imported from countries with rather low standards in terms of animal husbandry. Indeed, the November 11 Blog would have reflected mostly on local customs and how we can live them in an eco-friendly way. 
But times are not normal. This week is the second and last week for country delegates at the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (also known under the acronym “COP26”) to negotiate our future, confirming emission targets and agreeing on payment mechanisms to compensate the poorer countries for the disproportionate burden they have to carry in terms of climate change impacts.  Many of you will - like I do myself - read news from different sources, seeking to make sense from the many drops of information we can collect. So far, the news seem not great, and also opaque and difficult to understand.  But there are other dimensions of the COP that are worthwhile reflecting on, too - going beyond the countries' deliberations. They are about people and organizations taking things in their own hands.
One of my favorite news of this kind is about a new coalition of countries and automobile producers that is forming around the goal to completely phase out sales of new cars relying on non-renewable resources as fuel by 2040.  Six automakers and 30 countries have publicly committed to phase out gasoline car sales - what a moment to celebrate! Really?  Some news outlets are pointing out that the most relevant markets for cars (the US, China, Germany, and Japan) did not join, nor the largest car-makers (Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan-Renault).  However, it’s an interesting if eclectic group of countries that are on the list - and good to know for us here in Vienna: Austria signed - notably, including India and a number of the US States.  So: The chances that carbon emissions from car combustion are going to drop significantly over the next 10+ years are good!  And we as consumers may want to be aware of the car-makers who signed, just in case we want to support them.
Completely differently but just as inspiring are the stories that are coming out of Glasgow about young climate change activists who seem to be doing much more than talking.  The story of Ugandan Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate gave me pause, a 22 year old student who is advocating for changes in lifestyles and industry around the world as well as in her home country Uganda. Drawing much of her motivation from her background as a Christian, her views are clear and have drawn much attention.  “The western lifestyle, I don’t think its sustainable”, she said to the FT. In the meantime, ativist and entrepreneur Billie Dumaliang is someone who has turned her beliefs in action:  A young Philippino woman, she  runs an award-winning conservation and sustainable tourism project Masungi Georeserve that had 3000 hectares of heavily degraded land reforested.  Another person I learned about when following COP events is Maria Christina Kolo, a social entrepreneur and eco-feminist of Madagascar. She pulled together a waste collection and recycling program that has broad impacts well beyond its direct area of action.  What can one do but come away inspired by such entrepreneurialism?
So, yes, the news from Glasgow are perhaps not what we were hoping for. And it’s hard to figure out what the pathway going forward will be like. The stories though that I have seen from “around Glasgow” are nothing but hopeful. If people like Vanessa, Billie or Maria Christina refuse to give up and resign themselves to what is projected to come, how can we?
In the meantime, the countries’ delegates are still deep in the specific negotiations on what they can commit their countries to. Let’s keep them and the politicians they represent in our prayers for the days to come!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..