The Organic Traveller
Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Dresden: Sustainable shopping

Dresden's Wilhelminian neighbourhood of Neustadt is dominated by independent shops and venues, many of them run by female entrepreneurs as recently documented by an art project of local photographer Christine Starke. So it comes as little surprise that it is here where you have the best chance to discover a lot of gems, driven in accordance with the personal principles of the shop keeper which often include social and environmental aspects. Keep your eyes open, and you will discover a lot more than I have to suggest here.

Herbalists and beauty

If you're on the outlook for herbs, remedies, bodycare and food items based on ingredients described by medieval healer nun Hildegard of Bingen pay a visit to the Marone herbalist shop on Bautzner Landstraße directly located at the east-bound tram stop Pulsnitzer Straße. Not all of the products on sale (which among others include chestnut products and a small selection of biodynamic wine) in this small specialist shop are certified organic though.

When entering the quieter parts of the neighbourhood and head for Martin Luther church stop by a tiny herbalist shop dubbed Un-kraut ("weeds") directly opposite the organic cafe Kuchenglocke. Even when open the shop easily goes unnoticed, and its interior does not show all the herbal treasures hidden in the backoffice. Ask for any herb or spice, and the knowledgeable shop keeper will truly find it for you, in organic quality if possible. She will also happily answer all the questions you might have concerning the use of herbs. On display are an assortment of organic spices and tisanes, essential oils as well as some gift items. Although the regular opening hours are restricted to weekdays you might find the place open on Saturdays, occasionally.

Surrounding the church natural and organic bodycare products can be found at Touch of Nature beauty parlour cum shop in Böhmische Straße east of Görlitzer Straße. Note that also this shop is closed on weekends.

Bicycles

Just opposite there's a second hand bicycle shop cum workshop, Elbcycles, where you can buy a used bike if you're staying longer, or get your own one fixed.

Jewellery

Heading further west cross Görlitzer Straße and follow Böhmische Straße until it ends at Alaunstraße. A luminous blue wall indicates the location of the Geldschneider & Co. steam-punk workshop. Among others you will find beautiful jewellery made from recycled parts of abandoned analog wrist watches. The place has somewhat erratic opening hours, so step by when nearby (if you need to plan ahead: Saturdays seem a safe bet). If closed during regular German shop opening hours you may call the phone number given on the entrance door.

Fair trade

As in many other German cities the first address for colourful gifts as well as organic sweets, spices and condiments are fair-trade shops founded as grassroots activities by Christian parish members in accordance with the conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). As the host for pioneering regional ecumenical plenums in 1989 and 1990 the city of Dresden has been playing an important role in this process. The spirit of this movement lives on in local fair trade initiatives like Quilombo which for almost 25 years had run a fair-trade shop in the entrance area of Dreikönigskirche in Hauptstraße which played host to the first democratically elected local parliament in Saxony after East Germany's peaceful implosion in 1989. Today the initiative still has a shop in the neighbourhood of Löbtau while their former place in the "Haus der Kirche" ("house of the church") has been converted into fair-trade Cafe Dreikönig.

Sharing their roots with the Quilombo NGO the team of Cafe Aha opposite Kreuzkirche runs a fair-trade shop in the heart of the city. It is located in the basement of the cafe and offers an impressive selection of fairly-traded gifts, body care and dry goods. This initiative also runs a fair-trade ...

Fashion

... boutique, Aha Naturtextilien, on Hauptstraße, offering a great selection of fairly traded fashion made from natural materials. Here you will also find a good selection of stationary, jewellery, eatable fair-trade goods and more. By the way: the name "Aha" is an abbreviation for "trade/act differently" ("anders handeln" in German), and implies a huge effort in not only selling fairly traded goods but offering fair conditions to their own employees.

Another centrally located fair-trade shop specializing in fashion and household accessoires as well as coffee and chocolates is Contigo near the central train station.

If you follow the Hauptstraße boulevard up north and cross Albertplatz, just before you approach the Wilhelminian houses in Alaunstraße head into the yard to the left. There you'll find Baum&Wolle, an amazingly large fashion emporium offering a huge selection of clothes made from organic and fairly traded natural materials. In addition to fashion and accessoires for women (and a smaller selection for men), there's also a wide range of natural products for babies and toddlers. Knitters will be happy to find organic woollen yarns. Most of the clothing is part of the latest collections of sustainable fashion labels, but you will also find carefully selected second hand items.

Dresden's first fashion boutique exclusively selling fairly produced clothing from fairly traded, organically grown materials is dubbed Populi and can be found at the Western end of Louisenstraße, just before you reach the tram tracks of Königsbrücker Landstraße. Both, streetware, denim and designer labels can be found here, for men and women. The interior of the shop is to a great deal made from upcycled furniture.

Students and nerds find fairly traded organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters with unique scientific prints at Unipolar. This small, Dresden-based fashion label is the brain-child of a former physics student, and has two outlets (in addition to the on-line shop). The original store is located between the Bahnhof Mitte train station and the "Carl Maria von Weber" College of Music, while the latest opening of course happened in the Neustadt neighbourhood. The latter can easily be found by spotting a bath tub opposite a tram stop in Rothenburger Straße.

If you have a crush on individually made upcycled fashion accessoires pay a visit to Ex Animo at Martin-Luther-Platz. The shop specializes in clothes and accessoires for babies, toddlers and younger children, but you will find nice gifts for grown-ups (like cigarette wallets), too. Note that it is (like the Unipolar stores) closed on Mondays.

A custom tailor for both, men and women, Mein schönes Kleid ("my beautiful dress") on Bautzner Straße also has a selection of pret-a-porter items made from natural materials (linen, silk and cotton) only. Ask for organic textiles.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down, so don't be mislead when you find references to them on the web:

2018-03-27 13:00:01 [Dresden, Neustadt, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, spices, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, steampunk, bodycare] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Bremen: Sunday and late-night addresses for organic stuff

Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing already between 6 and 7 pm, and between noon and 2 pm on Saturdays. Although outlets of the Alnatura and Aleco organic supermarket chains keep open until 8 pm, you might end up quite frustrated if your schedule doesn't allow for day-time-on-weekdays shopping. Fortunately shops within Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, have quite liberal opening hours, hence unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you're safe, even on Sundays and in the evening.

A small selection of fresh fruit, dairy products (and non-dairy alternatives), drinks, dry food, sweets, natural cosmetics and a full-fledged range of bread, rolls, and pastries (both, sweet and savoury) can be found at the BetterLife health-food shop (Reformhaus). Apart from the bakery booth, you have however to check for organic labels as about half the products on sale aren't organic or certified natural cosmetics.

With their natural cosmetics own brand "Alterra" Rossmann drugstores like the one you'll enter when climbing the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub offer an alternative for the small purse. The branch keeps open 16 hours a day (14 on weekends on bank holidays) and stocks a good selection of organic dry goods (check for organic labels).

2017-08-26 17:00:00 [Bremen, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, trainstation] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Sunday, 01 January 2017

Nuremberg: Sustainable shopping

Nuremberg has a lot of independent small shops worth visiting in the main pedestrian area of the city centre (as long as you avoid the lanes occupied by global chains), and quite a number of them care about sustainability, fairness and the environment in some way or the other. The following shops except one are all located within walking distance within the city walls, and the list is totally biased, doing injustice to shops I simply did not recognise.

Nuremberg traditions

Drawing from Nuremberg's history as an important medieval trade centre on the crossroad of horizontal and vertical trade routes is the Wurzelsepp herbalist shop. In fact the shop was established in 1933, and you may question whether this should be positively connoted advertisement. I at least would have preferred to find a discussion of the shop's history in the Third Reich on their website. It's missing, so all you are left with is this beautiful shop, a realm of spices, teas, dried herbs, natural body care and perfumes, real frankincense, hand-made sweets, and more. Roughly estimated a quarter of it is organic, so check for labels or ask the helpful staff.

The abundance of exotic spices from the spice route traders and honey from the nearby forests caused the rise of the profession of the honey cake bakers ("Lebküchner") in the medievals. So even though Pfefferkuchen or Lebkuchen are a Christmas tradition you probably do not want to leave Nuremberg without locally produced gingerbreads. From end of October through December they are easy to find in every organic grocery, but outside the season your best bet is the gingerbread shop Wicklein which offers a small selection of organic varieties. They can be found at the back of the cashier's desk in green packaging, so simply head for the counter. And if you do not feel like gingerbread try their gorgeous chocolate-covered sourdough chips of the organic "Heidi backt" ("Heidi bakes") series.

Both shops are directly located on Hauptmarkt and keep open on Sundays during Christkindlesmarkt advent market.

Fair trade

Nuremberg proudly presents itself as a Fairtrade Town, and unlike in other cities fair trade shops can be found in the middle of the urban city centre. They are run by volunteers from church parishes, and traditionally offer a selection of sweets, herbs, spices, tea and coffee, dry goods, jewellery, fashion items, body care, stationary, home textiles, candles and other colourful gifts. Eatable items are predominantly organic, gifts and household items often made from recycled materials. Fresh food is not available, though both of the following shops sell bananas.

Easier to find is Fenster zur Welt ("Window to the World") near Hallplatz. It's also the spacier one of the two, and consequently offers a bigger selection. They do not hide the fact that they are a parish enterprise but there's definitely no proselytisation ongoing.

Lorenzer Laden (also referred to in its abbreviated form, Lola) is more intimate. Tucked away in a small alleyway East of Lorenzer Kirche it is totally secular in its presentation, and although their product range overlap to some extend, you will find a lot of things that the other shop does not offer.

More sweets, wines and gifts

Cosy confectioner's shop Chocolat close to Weißer Turm is a paradise for chocolat lovers. They offer a huge range of high quality chocolates of international provenience, often fairly traded, and to a noteworthy part organic. Check for labelling or ask the friendly ladies behind the bar. You can also treat yourself with a hot chocolate, though it's not organic. The entrance is facing Hutergasse, so do not be fooled by the address.

Once a start-up, nowadays a veritable organic specialist's chain, MyMüsli has a store near Hauptmarkt where you can buy dozens of cereals and porridges, and of late tea and coffee. They also offer free wifi.

If you fancy wine and a bicycle ride to the North-Eastern edge of town step by Die Weinhalle near Nordostparkt which I personally have not visited yet -- it was recommended by a friend. They specialize in natural wines, and a good selection of organic ones are among them. Alongside you can choose from a selection of delicatessen -- Italian antipasti, coffee, chocolates, etc., among them many organic ones. In the webshop you'll find organic products with a simple search for the "bio" keyword.

If you happen to be in Nuremberg in December, don't miss the annual sustainable winter market Winterkiosk at Künstlerhaus art's centre opposite the central station. It's always happening on a weekend, in 2016 December 10/11. Stroll around and let you inspire from art and handicraft. Most eatable and drinkable items are organic. The market charges a small entrance fee for adults (five euros in 2016).

If you wonder how a luxury organic department store looks like visit Grüne Erde at Hallplatz, a branch of a small Austrian chain. Traditionally they sell fairly produced furniture, bedding, cushions, home textiles, bathroom items and interior design stuff, all made from sustainably sourced natural and often organic materials. It would not be a department store if it did not offer luxury organic bodycare, candles, chocolates, sweets, dry goods and delicatessen as well as a small selection of liquors. Recently they added fashion basics like t-shirts to their sales mix. A pleasantly silent and nicely smelling oasis after a busy day -- until it comes to payment. They will ask you for your name and address to send you their catalogue and track your purchase, so be polite and tell them you do not want to be neither registered nor tracked (unless you really want it). Usually the shop assistants will comply without further questions, so don't feel tricked into giving details (or be prepared to give false information).

Fashion

See here.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2017-01-01 16:00:01 [Nuremberg, organic, fair, fashion, spices, delicatessen, gifts, shopping, bodycare] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Nuremberg: Sustainable, organic and eco fashion

Apart from the omnipresent fast fashion stores of H&M and C&A where it is, according to Greenpeace's Detox Catwalk, morally acceptable to buy cheap organic clothes, Nuremberg offers a selection of concept stores of smaller independent fashion labels with sustainable approaches. Although very different they have something in common: awareness for the environmental and social impact of fashion right from the start, durable products eco-consciously made in Europe, and slower fashion cycles. Of course, all of them sell online as well.

For streetware and young designer labels opt for Glore north of Weißer Turm, on your way downhill to the river Pegnitz. This is the place to look for fresh, exciting styles and vegan fashion, both, for men and women. All items on sale are certified, bearing trustworthy organic and fair-trade labels. They also have a small range of organic bodycare on sale.

Colourful ethno-inspired clothes for women, predominantly made from organic materials can be found at Gudrun Sjödén at the eastern end of Josephsplatz. The Swedish designer is an eco fashion pioneer, and presents her collections on models of all ages. Apart from clothes you will also find home textiles.

A few steps away in north-eastern direction, south of Karlsbrücke you'll find Deerberg, a concept store of a family-run business which started as a mail order firm for sustainably produced shoewear. Since they have been extending into clothes for women sustainably made in Europe which is the focus of the store. Unfortunately there are few organically produced textiles, and the styles are comparatively boring, but the shoes are worth a look as long as you do not shun leather.

2016-12-30 00:00:03 [Nuremberg, organic, fashion, fair, vegan, bodycare] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Organic Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

Perhaps even more than in Europe an environmentally friendly lifestyle seems to primarily concern (a fraction of) the more affluent, and hence you will not be surprised that buying organic is best done in the well-off neighbourhood of Kowdiar. It's here that the city's only fully organic grocery, the Organic Bazaar, is located. Climbing the stairs to the first floor you will find a neat and clean farmer's shop driven by friendly staff and backed by an NGO, Thanal. Good for the traveller: Everything on sale can be carried home safely since none of the items needs cooling. Apart from a huge selection of pulses, grains (among others types of rice the average European has never heard of), flours, sugar, cereals and spices from all over India you will find honey, chutneys and other preserves as well as locally grown fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables. They do not offer juices or other refreshments since these would need the addition of preservatives, but you will find a sufficient selection of household detergents, washing powder, toothpaste, shampoo, soap bars and skin care. As local customers tend to shop their veges on Wednesdays be prepared to find a diminished selection of greens on Wednesday afternoons. If you stay long enough to consume your purchase make sure to return the plastic packing to the shop (fresh veges will be packaged in bags made from recycled newspapers). In case you happen to go wild and, in search of the place end up in Thanal's office in OD-3, Jawahar Nagar (the former home to Organic Bazaar) don't hesitate to ask for the way -- we were even accompanied the ten minutes walk to the shop.

More spices, pulses, grains, dried and candied fruit, teas and tisanes as well as natural body care products can be found a 15 minutes walk away at upmarket Fabindia, with upmarket price tags. Fabindia specializes in handmade Indian fashion and home textiles made from natural Indian fabrics -- very colourful and of high quality, but -- apart from some clothes for babies -- these are not (yet?) made of organically produced cotton or silk. A pleasant and quiet shopping retreat, one wonders howewer how fairly the profit of this exquisite boutique is distributed among the growers and makers of these beautifully and tastefully done textiles. Note that their "Organics" trademark for food items does not guarantee certified organic ingredients, for these to find you have to watch out for the keyword "organic" on the labels and ingredients lists.

Another -- local -- chain supposed to trade in pesticide-free, partially organic grocery is Aroma Fresh which also operates a branch near Kowdiar. Let me know if you can give an account on it.

As always in India you cannot always trust in names. Also in Kowdiar you will find Organic One cafe, but although they serve very tasty milkshakes, ice-cream, lassis and juices made of natural ingredients only, they are not serving anything organic.

A five minutes walk from the State Secretariat of Kerala (go Y.M.C.A road to Southern block and swing to the left) you'll find what appears to be the city's only organic restaurant, purely vegetarian (predominantly vegan) Pathayam. Take the outside stairs to the right of the entrance to Hotel Navaratna Upendra, and you'll find a South-Indian eatery where you can have a traditional South-Indian meal and freshly pressed fruit juices. Boiled herb water is being served as a complementary refreshment if you ask. The Organic Special Meal consists of cut fruit and a veges salad, a soup, a chappati plus rice blended with veges served together with chutneys and curries of the day as well as three small cups of rasam, payasam and (in our case ginger-)flavoured buttermilk. The Ordinary Meal omits the salad (which also can be had separately) and fruit starter while the Chapati Meal consists of soup, four chapatis, curries, condiments and a slice of fruit. When you finish off your curries and chutneys a second helping is promptly filled onto your tray. The place focusses on health food, with one of their slogans being "taste comes second" which explains the rather bland taste compared with other Kerala food.

The restaurant consists of two rooms -- an A/C cooled room with a hand wash in the back and a lively non-A/C entrance hall where you can eat watching the fruit juices being prepared. The latter also houses a small organic grocery where you can shop all the ingredients used in the restaurant kitchen. Most supplies come from a Coimbatore farm, and the place is supplied by KADA, an organic online delivery service operating out of Trivandrum.

Another organic delivery service in town (which I haven't used though) is Sabarimala. Not only does it act as a grocery but also as a pizza delivery service. I did not have the time to visit neither their nor KADA's locations within Technopark (near train stop Kazhakootam) and hence am unable to tell whether they have shops on premise. Let me know if you happen to be there!

Closed

Thanal also operated a Zero Waste Centre in Kovalam which, apart from organic food, body and homecare products, offered recycled artisanal stationary and other items made from handmade paper, textiles, bags as well as household items made from coconut shell, natural fibres, cane and bamboo. This office cum shop was however shut down in April 2016 and is now working out of Thanal's office:

2016-08-29 16:00:03 [Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Kovalam, organic, grocery, supermarkets, fashion, bodycare, household, restaurant, pizza, zero_waste, vegan] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.