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Writing was something I used to do on a daily basis. To me it was like breathing or eating. Something I absolutely had to do to get through the day. Over the past two and a half decades I have filled dozens of ruled notebooks with all my feelings, thoughts, short stories, made up dialogues, all my questions about this thing called life, and my ever-aching dream of a cowboy-life. After publishing four books and moving away from Germany to the United States, leaving my audience and my native tongue behind, I stopped writing. I had babies and was married to a farrier. That means I listened to a lot of stories about crazy horse people, and messed-up horses feet. 

In the endless winters of Vermont, I watched the snow pile up in front of our sliding glass door. In the brief New England summers, I kept a garden. There was no time to write. 

Even when I wanted to write, I simply didn't know in what language and to who. It seemed like nobody in Germany would be able to hear me or could ever relate to my life in the US which had become so utterly and completely different from everything Germans or the Swiss experience on a daily basis. Politically and - socially I lived in a different universe. 

Now here I am, writing monthly “newsletters” to my customers because I started a soap business. Who would have thought? 

Maybe it's the format of the letter that encouraged me to start writing again; not having the expectation to write another book of 200-300 pages but to just sit down while I have a few hours and write, hoping that all the questions I had to answer for myself all these years scribbling in my notebooks I might be able to answer and share. This does not have to happen in book form but can just be a simple “hey guess what I found out! Not only is our Just Soap the best product on the market for your hair, body and face, but I also realized that my life is so much better without Social Media!” 

Luckily I also got so many encouraging words in response from people who have been reading, from my husband, and few and far away friends. That really is what made me go: Aha! Less is More. 

Less is more. 

Focusing on less gives me the ability to do more. Expecting less of myself sets free incredible powers, whereas expecting too much of myself can be crushing to my spirit. Less is definitely more in skin and hair care. Less packaging is what I believe in. Less plastic - I cannot say it enough. Please make an effort to use less plastic. 

My journey back to “less is more” started with making bar soap, and continued with the book BREATH by James Nestor; a national and international bestseller. I am a bit jealous that he came up with the idea to write about the “lost art of breathing”. But it seemed a natural evolution for Nestor because in his previous book DEEP he does an incredible job describing the world below the surface, and exploring his own desire to free dive. I learned even more about holding my breath reading his tales from diving with sperm whales and watching free divers in Greece. 

Naturally, we think if we make a physical effort, that we simply have to breathe more. But from Nestor I learned that there is a whole world beyond that belief. The world of breathing is not a disk, it's round!

It was so inspirational for me to run, and breathe less, to bike, and breathe less, to swim, and make it 25 yards with one breath. I was able to go so much further, I felt so much calmer, stronger for longer; it was incredible. I went through my day trying to breathe less, and soon I realized that “less is more” applied to so many other parts of my life. 

Somewhere I picked up the term brain-fasting. As I get older I really have to practice brain fasting, and I realize that everything comes down to brain fasting. It's all about focus. When I breathe less, I focus more. When I think less, I can achieve more.  

It seems like everything these days screams for distraction and I am not even sure why. Do distractions cause more people to join the church? Do distractions cause more people to get sick so the medical industry makes more money? Do distractions help social media to stay alive? Somebody must benefit from all the distractions because it certainly does not benefit us. 

James Nestor really opened the door for me to realize that the power of less is within me. I can practice it every day and it works like a filter system that sieves out all the unnecessary worries, anxieties and tensions. 

I remember how liberated I felt when I showered with my own bar of soap for the first time. It was daunting to me that I would not have to take any more trips to the pharmacy to scan through thousands of plastic bottles of liquid soap, desperately trying to find the right product for me. 

There was a profound Aha-moment: In order for me to wash myself and take care of my skin, I do not have to create more plastic waste for the planet. 

The bottles that I ended up throwing away are still buried in a landfill in Vermont, and they won't be degrading for thousands - even for tens of thousands of years. Even when my grandkids will have kids, those bottles will still be there.

So we think that using less plastic is going to take this huge effort - like breathing less. We think we need all this oxygen to stay alive! We think that we need all these cosmetics in plastic containers in order to “look and feel good”. We think that we need non-stick pans in order to fry an egg. But we really don't. 

Again: We really don't. 

It takes so little to make a change. 
Some people can stay underwater for three minutes without taking a single breath. They are humans too. They train themselves to achieve these goals; so can you. It is in all of us to breathe less.

When we get diagnosed with a gluten intolerance or a nut allergy we avoid bread and peanuts or we start looking for alternatives. Well, our planet has been diagnosed with a plastic intolerance and a waste allergy, we should start looking for alternatives or start avoiding single-use plastics. If we take care of the earth the way the earth is taking care of us, we really should be able to reduce the 13 million tons of plastics that enter our oceans every year. 

In reducing plastic waste we cannot rely on some magical technical or scientific solution. Instead, it will be a social and political effort to slow the mass production of single-use plastics down. There is no one that does it for us; we have to do it. It’s not anybody's responsibility but our very own. 

Sometimes when I get stressed out or need a break I go sort and empty the trash in the garage. No one will voluntarily come and help me with that so I know I can get a moment of peace. We recycle aluminum, paper, glass and plastic in our house.

I can get pretty frustrated with trash. There is just so much and it never ends. Usually it is a sticky, stinky, oozy mess that piles up weekly in our recycling bins. Our little seven-person household is suffocating in trash, and worst of all: we go through this pain of separating our trash and I have ZERO idea if that plastic even gets recycled, or where it goes. I mean how in the world can anybody figure out what to do with this stuff? Do people in China go through all these bags, casings, bottles, containers by hand to pick out what's recyclable? Do they take the recycle dumpsters at night and drive them to the landfill? 

It took some educating myself to figure that out. Not every plastic is the same, the only plastic that can really be made into new plastic is PET plastic - most of everything else would get melted down to become a useless gooey gunk. Realizing that recycling in the US is a complete black box for me, I know it comes down to educating myself and finding a way. In the end, I can't rely on some “machine”, some president, or some trash-deal between the US and China to handle my trash, I must pick the road less traveled.  

Plastic residues have been found in multiple ocean water samples that were taken 800 kilometers away from any land. TIME magazine says that the material has been found in the bellies of whales, in the air, human blood and suggests that particles can be passed from pregnant women to their newborns. The stuff does not deteriorate, 99% of it cannot be recycled, and it has infiltrated our whole ecosystem almost - or entirely - to the point of no return.  

If we would only use a straw twice, take our own bags to the store, and start using bar soap (use any that you want, it does not have to be ours but ours might be the best one you can find) we could at least start to make a change. 

Things you can do today to reduce single-use plastics:
  • Join the TerraCycle program. It's free. Collect your toothbrushes and deodorants, toothpastes in any box and send them by mail.
  • Start taking your own bags to the store
  • Stop buying water in plastic bottles
  • Use bar soap
Things I do to reduce single-use plastics:
  • I’ve joined the TerraCycle program
  • Bring my own bags to the store
  • Use bar soap, bar shampoo, bar conditioner and bar lotion
  • Avoid produce that comes in a plastic container
  • Always carry a water bottle with me
  • Teach my kids
With every order placed in September, we will send a Use-Less-Plastic sticker that you can keep, stick on your car, on your water bottle, or give to your bagger at the store. 

You are the voice. Protect what needs protection and Make This Planet Great Again. 

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