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.

Friday, 03 November 2017

Sustainable shopping in Salzburg

To shop for organic products in Salzburg couldn't be easier: Even the random conventional supermarket has a sufficient selection of it, hence availability is not an issue as long as you are familiar with the EU and the Austrian organic logos (mainly the AMA organic seal, the Austria organic guarantee, and the Bio Austria certificate). When thinking gifts and souvenirs, visits to the flagship stores of Austria's main organic brands come in handy: Salzburg hosts plenty of them, all located within walking distance in the city center. Here's a selection, all of them committed not only to organic but fairly traded products:

Name Salzburg, and the famous Mozartkugel chocolates comes to mind. I couldn't find an organic version, but a stroll to the Zotter confectioner's shop will lead you directly to a sweet paradise, with myriads of surprising declinations of artisanal chocolates, among others special Salzburg chocolate truffles ("Salzburger Nockerln").

Not so sweet teeth should head for busy Linzer Gasse pedestrian street to find teas, tisanes, dried herbs and spices, as well as a selection of sweets and natural body care at Sonnentor -- the contemporary version of a medieval chemist's shop, with an abundance of products based on herbs grown in Austria itself.

Just a stone's throw away you will find Weltladen, a dedicated fair trade shop and a nice place to shop for all kind of gifts -- both eatable, wearable, and decorative.

If you feel like a coffee during your shopping spree step by Röstzimmer 15, a small scale coffee roaster's specialising in organic fairly traded traditionally grown Ethiopian coffee dubbed "Urkaffee". In addition they sell organic chocolates, tea, and honey from within the city boundaries. Careful with the bread: only a selection is organic. Unfortunately this cosy little shop is closed on Saturdays (and Sundays).

Once home to a vibrant shoe industry there's not much left of artisanal shoemakery in today's Austria. If it wasn't for the "Waldviertler" -- robust enduring footwear which you can buy at Gea alongside fashionable leather bags, sustainably made furniture with a sometimes anarchistic touch, bedding, eco fashion accessoires, organic tea and tisanes, or gift items. The company is a major driving force within the Economy for the Common Good movement, and all products are made in sustainably driven, socially conscious workshops by artisans in Austria and its neighbouring countries.

For sustainably produced shoes of play- and colourful designs -- light city wear in contrast to the down-to-earth design inspired by the farm lands of the Waldviertel -- head to the Think! flagship store in the old town. The founder of this brand also comes from an Austrian shoemaker family, and the company is headquartered in a small Upper Austrian village, Kopfing.

While Gea provides you with socks, gloves, scarfs, gloves and other textile accessoires it's not a clothes boutique. For eco fashion you may try Bella Boutique in Linzer Gasse, but check the labels carefully as its entrance area shows off tourist rip-off like cheap Chinese down jackets made from 100% plastic materials. The shop was formerly located in Wolf-Dietrich-Straße, an address you still may come across.

If you love hemp and other re-discovered plant-based fibres head for Eberlin-Frenkenberger Naturmode in Dreifaltigkeitsgasse, a nice fashion boutique with a classical approach.

Closed

2017-11-03 17:00:00 [Salzburg, organic, fair, coffee, tea, gifts, spices, fashion, shopping] 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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Friday, 28 October 2016

Munich: Organic Living Rooms

In theory we all love them: The small owner-driven shops that surprise us with their unusual selection or combination of goods and food made with love and care, vibrant places with a special and welcoming atmosphere or homely places of peace where we can sit and wonder and get inspired. Shops who's owners create a place from their ideas of a human world, who are ready for a chat if desired but not pushy in their sales attitude. Places that are somehow home away from home, places for a rest or for inspiration. Places where we hopefully buy stuff since we're not forcibly persuaded by aggressive marketing.

And yes. There are these places, and it doesn't come as a surprise that many of these shops offer organic items.

Books and more

Imagine the dry fruit and sweets display of an oriental bazaar stall, and put it in the middle of a crammed book shop filled with mediavistic and orientalistic literature. Sit down in front of the shop or at the bar table inside and order oriental-style coffee, tea, mezze, and -- most recently -- also organic Japanese fried chicken (karaage) or matcha cake, prepared by a Japanese chef. Have a chat with the owner and scroll the book shelves while you wait -- you will find interesting media on medieval arts and crafts, food, biographies of historic persons, films, facts and fiction in German, English, and even French. Your meal -- the falafel, soups as well as occasional Japanese food -- will be fully organic as are the drinks and many of the dried fruit. Not everything else, but where in Munich will you find sweets imported from Damaskus? You will also find earthen oil lamps, soaps from the now sadly destroyed soap shops in Aleppo, home-made rose jams, aged Turkish Arak and more. Saladins Souk, also dubbed Haidhauser Oase as the blackboards in front of it have it can be found in the beautiful quarter of Haidhausen a few minutes North-West from Ostbahnhof station. Be prepared to find an always changing display of (not always organic) delicatessen often brought by the owners from their travels or made by their friends. (As of today the shelves are filled with French delicatessen, unfortunately most of them conventional produce.) The deep-fried lunch items are prepared more healthily in a low-fat fryer, and birch sugar is used as sweetener throughout the menu. You can also order lunch delivery as long as you phone in between 10 and 12 am.

Love to sit down with a good book and a glass of good wine? No question, the two are a perfect match, and even if you're more into an organic softdrink (Bionade), the Buchhandlung Lentner bookstore near Rosenheimer Platz with its cosy cafe is a place where you can stay for hours sitting, watching, chatting with the staff and reading. If you're not able to read German shop of their carefully selected wines, some of them organic. They will also order English books for you (send e-mail, phone in or use their webshop in advance), but this may sometimes take longer than the usual overnight order service for German books. Unfortunately, neither the coffee nor the milk are organic, but if you ask they'll perhaps offer it next time.

Fashion and design

In the vicinity of the Gärtnerplatz party hotspot step by Cafe Phasenreich, a lovingly curated organic fashion and design temple. You'll find t-shirts, trousers, shirts, jackets, underwear and accessoires for both, men, women, and toddlers, as well as sustainably produced bags, watches, radios, design objects, postcards and even confetti. Enjoy an organic coffee drink, smoothie, sandwich or cake before you take a second look to find the unexpected item that you always wanted to own. They moved recently, so don't be surprised if you find them listed elsewhere under their old address in Baaderstraße 33.

2016-10-28 12:00:10 [Munich, Haidhausen, organic, cafe, coffee, tea, deli, books, lunch, delivery, Japanese, French, falafel, shopping] 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.

Wednesday, 07 September 2016

Kochi (Cochin): Conscious shopping

Tea and spices

On your way along the coast from Bellar Road via Calvetty Road and along Bazar Road you will find quite a few shops advertising organic spices and perfumes. In a country where adulteration of spices for profit is frequent one should take this with a grain of salt -- usually you won't find any organic certification. Use your wits and enquire, in the end you will have to believe or let go. Since Kerala still has a lot of farmers abiding to traditional agricultural principles there is however a good chance that some of the spices actually are grown organically.

The spice we were taught to be extremely picky about by an organic farmer we met at Thanal Organic Bazaar in Trivandrum is cardamom, a very demanding crop: In order to retain spotless green capsules almost all farmers who depend on selling their crops to make a living apply pesticides every 20 days, making it one of the most exposed spices. So when you shop for it check whether you can find capsules with sand coloured areas in the batch. If so the claim to be organic might hold true.

On the seaside of Bazar Road (left-hand when heading South) you will find Hi' Range Organic Spices (the spelling varies), a micro-loan financed cooperative of seven local women trading in a huge variety of Kerala spices, tea and natural body care products. They claim its all natural and organic, and since the prepackaged teabags in fact sport an organic label, I'd opt to believe it. I also liked that the woman I talked to did not try to persuade me into buying but instead explained which type of curcuma to use in cooking and which one for skin care, or demonstrated how to shell a nutmeg.

Books

By far the finest bookstore in and around Kochi is Idiom Booksellers in Bastian Street. Apart from a brilliant selection of contemporary Indian literature, classics, graphic novels, books on local history, art, culture and cooking as well as travel and children books and postcards you can buy beautiful notebooks, handmade from recycled paper. Even if you otherwise do your reading on electronic devices step by and let you inspire by the crammed shelves and their book-loving proprietor. She will even ship your purchase overseas. Idiom has never been a place handing out bags made from plastic foil but since plastic bags have been banned within the boundaries of Fort Kochi since spring 2016 you can carry your purchase home in a handmade coarse jute bag instead of one made from synthetic fabrics -- just like 15 years ago.

Fashion

With -- at the time of writing -- five outlets in the greater Kochi area Fabindia inevitably has an extravagant showroom near the North-Western shore of Fort Kochi.

Lesser known, although being a pioneer of fairly traded fashion in India is Rajastan-based Anokhi with its flower-printed signature designs mixing Indian and Western styles. In Fort Kochi they run an exquisite boutique near Parade Ground. If you happen to come to Jaipur step by their cafe serving predominantly organic international food.

Tribes India, a shop run by the government of India to support indigenious artisans next to Fort Cochin Post Office offers handmade clothes, fabrics, nice bags made from banana fibre and other artefacts made from natural materials as well as metal figurines and a range of other artisanal products. Although the billboards advertise organic items they do no longer trade in spices, preserves and other food items. Its a comfortable place to shop for fairly traded gifts, though.

2016-09-07 16:00:05 [Kochi, Cochin, Rajastan, Jaipur, organic, gifts, tea, fashion, spices, shopping] 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.