It happens in less than a second… a bee flies close to my ear making its typical buzzing sound and (swoosh) I´m back to a past situation in my head. It´s a hot day in late summer, I´m in my grandparents’ garden in the east of Germany for the holidays, my granny has just made her delicious plum pie and maybe in the afternoon we will ride our bikes to the beautiful lake in the forest around the corner.
Wonderful trick of the brain
It happens just like a reflex: you smell, hear or taste something and it reminds you of a situation in the past. It´s like a moment you caught and put into an empty marmalade jar, only to open it up again and get a whiff of the feeling you had at this time. Just to name another few examples: I love the smell of gasoline. Not because it´s a fancy perfume, but because it reminds me of my childhood vacations. Going on a camping trip in Italy by car, being stuck in a traffic jam, excited for the next two weeks just enjoying life. Same goes for the sound of pigeons, which I always heard when I woke up in the tent.
The taste of milk chocolate – for me also an association with being a child. My first advent calendar, a Milka chocolate bar as a present from relatives or a piece of the typical Easter chocolate bunny. I take a bite and I feel like a little girl again. Another amazing thing: the smell of old books… or new books, as well! As for the old ones, their smell takes me back to rummaging in a library or my parents´ bookshelves. The smell of new books always brings excitement to me: like when you got a new book for your birthday and could not wait to start reading, or when the new year of school started and you were still excited about what would happen during the year (motivation was still existent back then).
Bringing childhood back to the present
I could probably go on telling you other examples for eternity… The smoke after you blew out a candle (on your birthday cake), the sound of a cow´s bell, the smell of French fries, the feeling you get when you coincidentally smell the soap your grandma uses as well, the scent of sunscreen or the taste of cotton candy…
All of these things bring some kind of joy to our minds because they remind us of happy moments that are already gone. Maybe in hard times we should remind ourselves of those smells, sounds or tastes and try to get a glimpse of them. Just to get the feeling of being a child again, when the worst thing that could happen was having to take a nap (now the most amazing thing ever!) and the best thing was eating French fries next to the pool.
author: Carolin Joos
Organic. 100% recycled. Recyclable. Natural. Certified green. When you buy this item, 1$ will be donated to children in need. Think for yourself: Do you feel better when buying an item which is labelled as environmental-friendly or sustainable?
There are many words that could be used to describe something as eco-friendly or sustainable. When reading these, people mostly feel good for supporting a company that cares about sustainability, animals and human rights. However, most of these companies only use these for tricking people into buying their things – while not caring a single bit about problems like environmental pollution, child labour and so on. This problem is called greenwashing.
What is greenwashing?
The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines greenwashing as “activities by a company or an organization that are intended to make people think that it is concerned about the environment, even if its real business actually harms the environment”. The term is based on the word “white-wash”, which describes that somebody is trying to hide unpleasant facts about something and trying to make it seem better than it is. As protecting the environment and living a more sustainable life is a current and “trendy” topic in times of climate change and Fridays For Future, many companies try to use this for making profit and selling more of their products. For example, a company sells items packed in plastic but claims that they have a new campaign which reduced the plastic by 15%. So why don’t they ban it entirely and search for a completely different type of packaging which would be a 100% less plastic? Probably because it is cheaper and costumers don’t really think that much into it, as the item is “more” sustainable than others or the older version of the same product.
How do I recognize greenwashing?
There are some possible ways to recognize greenwashed products. Above all, trust your instincts. Also check the whole product, what it’s made of and how it can be disposed of afterwards. When seeing a green label, check why it’s claimed to be green. You could even go to the website and read through it. Do they give a lot of information about their goals and marketing or is it really vague and unspecific? Is there a lot of ambiguity? Research the company on other websites, which are not associated with it and check for hints. If you want to go into it even more, contact the company and directly ask them your questions. If they don’t respond or talk around your questions, it might be greenwashing. Look for certain certifications and seals on the product. Research them and make sure they are from third parties which are not influenced by the company.
How can I avoid greenwashing and take action against it?
You can avoid greenwashing by saying no. Don’t buy the item if you don’t want to support this company. If you have the choice, search for the same thing by another brand and buy it instead (if it isn’t also affected by greenwashing). Also spread the word. Less demand will eventually get the product from the market. If you want to go even further, contact the company and state your concerns. They might have done it unintentionally or are open for suggestions to improve their marketing. There is also the possibility to report it to the consumer advice centre (Verbraucherzentrale). They check the item or advertisement and may even go after it judicially. Now you might think “Why should I do all this if it’s just a marketing strategy?”. The problem about it is that you lose sight of the bigger problem that is hidden behind the “green marketing”. At its worst it isn’t just a marketing trick but rather an attempt to hide the bad effects the companies have on the environment. This is why everybody should take a look behind the green.
author: Veronika Grashey
Due to Corona, we aren’t able to visit our lovely university and complain about the whole bunch of work the professors gave us. Instead, this work awaits us at our desk at home now; practically every aspect of our studies is carried out there. It feels like tasks and information are overrunning us and time is, naturally, limited. That’s why it’s important to let off some steam and find calmness amidst all this chaos. Netflix doesn’t have to be the best solution, though. Ever thought about forests? Yeah sure, those wide, green spaces are nice for a short walk. But what about plunging into the forest and really focusing? So, why don’t we plunge into the benefits of Forest Bathing and how it helps us maintain our mental health.
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing is not at all new. It originated in Japan and is called Shinrin-Yoku. Basically, it means to experience the forest with all your senses and create a connection between you and the natural world around you. Smell the flowers, listen to the softly flowing water or just relax while watching the sunlight sprinkle through the leaves. If you want to hug a tree, feel free to do it! Sounds hippie-like? Maybe it is. But the results are amazing.
Get the facts
Various studies have proven the positive impacts of Forest Bathing. First of all, it slows you down. It reduces the stress which has gathered over the days and lets you focus in the here and now. I don’t think I have to tell you how stressful life can be and how stress negatively affects your health and well-being. It can even cause depression. Forest Bathing helps you stay mentally healthy. What’s more, your immune system benefits from it. A study by the Department of Hygiene and Public Health of the Nippon Medical School in Japan proves that a forest bathing trip can increase the activity of the NK-Cells (Natural Killer Cells), which are for example responsible for exterminating cancer cells. Without digging to deep into biology: your immune system gets a nice boost. Of course, one condition does exist: no mobile phone! Any technical device will only distract and, after all, the main goal is to focus and shortly distance oneself from the daily, rushing world. Additionally, the intention of the forest bather must be genuine. If they only think it’s humbug anyway, no gain can be achieved.
The point is: Our world isn’t becoming slower. Quite the contrary, with all the tasks awaiting us, it’s becoming faster, more exciting and more complicated. It doesn’t matter if you’re just strolling through a park or wander off the beaten path through the wood: Concentrating on your fantastic, natural environment for a while takes you through this rather unsure time a lot easier. So – why not pay the Siebentischwald a visit and try it out?
author: Sara Vidanovic
When watching the news these days, it seems to be all about the newly spreading Covid-19 virus. While approximately a year ago, it was all about Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future, now the daily input we get just revolves around the newly taken measures or the increasing numbers of newly infected people. Even though the ongoing lockdown has had some positive side effects on our nature – like the improvement of global air quality due to the reduction of travel on the ground, just as in the air – protecting the climate remains very important and should not be neglected.
What happened to Greta
In view of the present situation, climate protection and Greta Thunberg seem to be rather overshadowed by the health crisis. And as if that weren’t enough, Fridays for Future demonstrations won’t be possible any time soon, considering the restraining orders in many countries. That means no more young people skipping school all over the world to strike against the lack of climate protection measures. But while our day-to-day lives have been involuntarily slowed down a bit, the world hasn’t stopped turning, and catastrophes still occur all around our environment. There are still fish, turtles, birds and other creatures that die every day in consequence of sea and air pollution. Australia is still struggling with the high (financial and environmental) cost of combating forest fires. Biodiversity is in danger because of species extinction and so forth. The list of natural catastrophes seems endless. Greenpeace Executive Director Jennifer Morgan states that climate change is still taking place. One crisis does not stop another.
New Stimulus Programme
Early successes concerning the decrease of CO2 emissions are of course highly gratifying, however the downward trend won’t be of a lasting nature. Finally, economic slumps never replace climate protection strategies. Instead, these two factors – protecting the climate and protecting prosperity – should be connected. In the end, the measures we take to overcome this financial crisis will decide about the future of our planet and show to what extent we’ve learned something from Covid-19. Experts from the environmental organisation Agora are currently working on a thesis paper that includes a climate and economic stimulus programme. This programme should boost the economy and simultaneously reduce emissions on a sustained basis: the reduction of electricity prices and financial support for the purchase of climate-neutral systems in the steel industry. The investment in climate-friendly technologies would be a chance, but success is not yet guaranteed. Even though environmental pollution is still going on, this crisis might be a chance to open the everyone’s eyes. We need to realize how positive everything could turn out, if we just were be a bit more careful. Maybe the returning dolphins, the crystal clear water in Venice’s harbours, the refreshing air or the deep blue sky will make us once more aware how beautiful our nature is and why it is so important to protect it.
author: Laura Henkes