Anne Weiss is a Berlin-based freelance author, translator and journalist, writing both non-fiction and fiction books as well as for various magazines. Together with Sefan Bonner, she has co-written several best-selling books, including Generation Doof, Generation Weltuntergang, and Wir Kassettenkinder. As a ghostwriter, she has recently written HANDELN STATT HOFFEN together with Carola Rackete. These books reflect her active involvement in environmental initiatives, support of animal right’s movements and role giving nationwide lectures on climate protection and sustainability.
In her latest book Mein Leben In Drei Kisten, she writes about her experience de-cluttering her life and swapping it for happiness. Giving insightful tips on how to dispose of things sensibly and sustainably.
1. What inspired you to get rid of your clutter and exchange it for happiness in life?
I was sort of forced into my minimalism happiness because I lost my job a few years ago. I was in my mid-forties and the dismissal made me think: What do I really want, how do I want to build my life in the future? I realized that the lifestyle we chase in the global north was not fulfilling for me. I worked so much that I bought a lot of things to reward myself. Yet I didn’t need all of them, and subconsciously I was aware of that. Stéphane Hessel said, “We must break the frenzy of ‘more and more’!” Buying should not become an end in itself, that became very clear to me while decluttering. Over-consumption and over-production in the global north harm our environment and create injustice, hunger and suffering in the global south. We need a new consciousness, and one focused on sufficiency and global justice.
Needing little gives me a sense of freedom. I no longer have to earn so much to maintain my lifestyle. Instead of rushing around on the hamster wheel and using my salary to buy consumer goods as a reward, I’d rather be with people who mean something to me and stand up for what I think is important.
2. Why did you title your book Mein Leben In Drei Kisten (‘My Life In Three Boxes’)?
The boxes actually exist, they are in the corner of my room. These boxes contain what was left over from decluttering because it’s useful, because it’s good, or because it means something to me. I live in a shared flat, and I have a bed couch as well as a small closet for my clothes, I own a small desk and use my refurbished laptop for work, but in those boxes is everything I’m attached to — what I absolutely need and what constitutes my life up to now: diaries, photos, letters — that sort of thing.
3. What is your number one tip for leading a sustainable life?
The path becomes easier when you know where you want to go. Ask yourself why you want to live sustainably. What does the world you want to live in look like? Paint it in the most beautiful colors. Who do you want it to be for, are you concerned that your children won’t have a future worth living?
The best effect can be achieved by capturing an unusual viewpoint: Look back from the future! Imagine, the socio-ecological transformation has already happened and we live in a world where there is clean air, environmentally friendly production, clean drinking water and health care for everyone, fair distribution of fairly produced goods, organically grown food and emission-free efficient public transport. Now, that you are there, rejoice in it and look back: How did we achieve this, what steps led from the old world to the new?
If you activate your imagination, sustainable living is not about giving up luxury goods, but about gaining something valuable. And that makes it so much easier.
4. What environmental initiatives are you actively involved in?
Together with a bunch of committed people from an initiative in Berlin that is seeking a referendum on a traffic turnaround, I am publishing a podcast about car-free living (https://volksentscheid-berlin-autofrei.de/podcast.php?lang=de): It’s called “ring frei”, and we have already had many inspiring conversations with experts, politicians and pioneers from car-free or traffic-calmed cities. I’m also working on socio-ecological transformation in an urban project in Berlin. And I organize the initiative Writers for Future (https://writers4future.de) in collaboration with the Association of German Writers. Together with other activists, we set up the first climate book fair in May 2021 (www.klimabuchmesse.de), where renowned authors and climate scientists such as Michael E. Mann presented their books.
5. What outcomes would you like to see from COP26?
COP25 was a pure disappointment. COP26 is, according to many, the last real chance to curb the devastating consequences of climate change. I want it to be a real turning point, I want a concrete plan, I want binding results, I want intergenerational justice, not weak compromises and empty promises. I want carbon market rules — but most of all I want all negotiators to see what the global climate justice movement has seen for years: We can still mitigate the worst consequences. But only if individual interests and vanity take a back seat — especially those of nations that have built their prosperity on the inordinate use of fossil fuels. We can only solve this global crisis together, in solidarity with developing countries and with the informed consent of indigenous people. It’s the only way to create a future worth living for coming generations.
Thank you very much for your time Anne, we’ve loved hearing from you!
Buy Mein Leben In Drei Kisten here.
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