Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #45: Which Christkindl market…?

November 18, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
We are still deep in November, American Thanksgiving is a good week away, and yet Vienna has started its very own Christmas Season six weeks before the actual Christmas Day. Street decorations have gone up, with stars and angels in LED formats everywhere, and the shops have quickly switched from autumn themes to the red-and-green-and-white that Western culture associates with festivities around Jesus’ birth. Go, figure. Soon we will also begin to see stressed shoppers, stressed shop keepers, and all of this overlaid with sweet smells and holiday music in the background, conspiring to take us and our minds away from the actual purpose of these days.
Christkindl Markets are, for me, among the more enjoyable parts of these pre-season days. One goes there often with family or friends, enjoys Austrian street-food, and oftentimes one finds quirky and unique thingamajigs that can be even useful or otherwise nice to have. The most immediate question, right now of course, is whether or not and if so for how long the markets will remain open: The rising COVID numbers have already compelled authorities in Southern Germany to close down many markets in Bavaria, including Munich.  But there is also another question, for those of us wanting to make lifestyle and life choices that are compatible with planetary health is worth considering: Which among the many Christmas markets are good to visit, from the perspective of climate change or environmental impacts?
Surprise! There are several options!  My favorite one is the Christkindl Market arranged by - or rather: within - the 48er Tandler.  If you are not familiar with the 48er Tandler - do make sure you learn about it: Its one of Vienna’s minor miracles, and really something that can only exist here, in the city that loves living in the past more than anything else. The 48er is the Vienna’s much beloved department for waste management, and they run a rather large store of things that others have disposed of. That store is full of wondrous things even at regular times - from bicycles through to ovens or bookshelves; you can seemingly get endless surprise choices there.  For Christmas, though, they outdo themselves, Wednesdays through Saturdays, between 10 and 18, over in the 5th district in Siebenbrunnenfeldgasse 3. You can find second (or third or fourth) hand seasonal decorations and nativity plays, re-usable X-mas trees, and all sorts of goodies as presents. One specifically smart present: Euro 5 vouchers for shopping at the 48-er Tandler, a gift with eco-side benefits in my view.... You can give them to your favorite aunt or niece - and maybe introduce them to the joys of  shopping in the past..
Another sure way to choose or shape Christkindl Market experience from an ecological perspective is to focus on options that involve local producers. Look out for the smaller design or creative-arts options. Some such offers are available on most of the markets - but a few markets are also rather specialized in this regard.  The Art Advent Markt on Karlsplatz - open from 12pm - 8pm daily, between November 19 and December 23, has a great selection, and so does the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt, open from 10 am - 9 pm, on Freyung Wien.  The Alm Advent takes place right in front of the Messe Wien - and there you can not only shop products from local crafts(wo)men but there is also a make-your-own handicraft workshop on offer for the kids (open from 3pm -6:30pm on weekdays and sundays from 11am-6:30pm).  Also city-wide famous for the number of local creative products are the Christkindlmarkt on Spittelberg and the offers one can find at the WeihnachtsQuartier im MQ, right in the middle of the Museumsquarter.  Here, 80 smaller local outfits will offer their goods. And there is more, much more: For a full list of 23 Christkindl Markets across Vienna, check out COVID rules apply - and so the markets that I have visited in the last days seem to have been less busy and, to be frank, more enjoyable. Slow-going. Seasonal.
As a rule of thumb, wherever you go, the most eco-friendly ways of enjoying Christkindl Markets involves five principles. Firstly, getting there (and leaving) on foot, bike or by public transport. Secondly, shopping only what was locally or fair-trade produced. Thirdly, minimizing waste (e.g. no plastic cups or plastic cutlery). Fourthly, staying away from things that one does not really need. And, lastly, donating if you so please, toward something that marries social causes with environmental causes.
Have you found a particularly eco-friendly Christkindl Market or a specific stand at a specific market? Tell us, or write a little note about it. We’d love to expand what we know?
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Blog#44: Good News from Glasgow

November 11, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Under normal circumstances, today’s Blog would reflect on St Martin (of Tours) - the famous and much loved saint of the fourth century, a former soldier and later on a Bishop, known for his generosity toward the poor. In the Anglican church we remember him and his life on November 11, and in Austria we see his name associated with many local traditions, including those of feasting on roast Goose. In fact, all through November, Austrians will eat - and invite each other to join - at least one Martini Gans. And under normal circumstances, this Blog would have reflected on options we have to purchase such a goose from an eco-Goose farm.  The Blog would then have noted that these eco-Geese having become are very popular and been pre-ordered many months ago.  And we would have also reported that the Geese eaten by Austrians, contrary to what is often believed, are mostly imported from countries with rather low standards in terms of animal husbandry. Indeed, the November 11 Blog would have reflected mostly on local customs and how we can live them in an eco-friendly way. 
But times are not normal. This week is the second and last week for country delegates at the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (also known under the acronym “COP26”) to negotiate our future, confirming emission targets and agreeing on payment mechanisms to compensate the poorer countries for the disproportionate burden they have to carry in terms of climate change impacts.  Many of you will - like I do myself - read news from different sources, seeking to make sense from the many drops of information we can collect. So far, the news seem not great, and also opaque and difficult to understand.  But there are other dimensions of the COP that are worthwhile reflecting on, too - going beyond the countries' deliberations. They are about people and organizations taking things in their own hands.
One of my favorite news of this kind is about a new coalition of countries and automobile producers that is forming around the goal to completely phase out sales of new cars relying on non-renewable resources as fuel by 2040.  Six automakers and 30 countries have publicly committed to phase out gasoline car sales - what a moment to celebrate! Really?  Some news outlets are pointing out that the most relevant markets for cars (the US, China, Germany, and Japan) did not join, nor the largest car-makers (Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan-Renault).  However, it’s an interesting if eclectic group of countries that are on the list - and good to know for us here in Vienna: Austria signed - notably, including India and a number of the US States.  So: The chances that carbon emissions from car combustion are going to drop significantly over the next 10+ years are good!  And we as consumers may want to be aware of the car-makers who signed, just in case we want to support them.
Completely differently but just as inspiring are the stories that are coming out of Glasgow about young climate change activists who seem to be doing much more than talking.  The story of Ugandan Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate gave me pause, a 22 year old student who is advocating for changes in lifestyles and industry around the world as well as in her home country Uganda. Drawing much of her motivation from her background as a Christian, her views are clear and have drawn much attention.  “The western lifestyle, I don’t think its sustainable”, she said to the FT. In the meantime, ativist and entrepreneur Billie Dumaliang is someone who has turned her beliefs in action:  A young Philippino woman, she  runs an award-winning conservation and sustainable tourism project Masungi Georeserve that had 3000 hectares of heavily degraded land reforested.  Another person I learned about when following COP events is Maria Christina Kolo, a social entrepreneur and eco-feminist of Madagascar. She pulled together a waste collection and recycling program that has broad impacts well beyond its direct area of action.  What can one do but come away inspired by such entrepreneurialism?
So, yes, the news from Glasgow are perhaps not what we were hoping for. And it’s hard to figure out what the pathway going forward will be like. The stories though that I have seen from “around Glasgow” are nothing but hopeful. If people like Vanessa, Billie or Maria Christina refuse to give up and resign themselves to what is projected to come, how can we?
In the meantime, the countries’ delegates are still deep in the specific negotiations on what they can commit their countries to. Let’s keep them and the politicians they represent in our prayers for the days to come!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Blog#43: Let's Pray

November 4, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
This past Sunday, hundreds of country delegates from around the world descended on Glasgow for COP26, shorthand for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. They came to commit their countries to further steps towards preventing the most devastating impacts of climate change, and to negotiate a joint path forward for their countries.  At least for most of them, one would hope. Yet, many delegates are under difficult political pressures and guided by directions and perspective that are not as forward-looking, caring and constructive as would be necessary for the Conference's outcomes to be positive. So today, in this space, I would want to invite readers to join me in a prayer for the delegates, drawn from CAFOD.  

Loving God,

We praise your name with all you have created.

You are present in the whole universe,
and in the smallest of creatures.

We acknowledge the responsibilities you have placed upon us
as stewards of your creation.

May the Holy Spirit inspire all political leaders at COP26 as they
seek to embrace the changes needed to foster a more sustainable society.

Instill in them the courage and gentleness to implement fairer solutions
for the poorest and most vulnerable,
and commit their nations to the care of Our Common Home.

We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son.


Online, there are many such prayer resources - and while we will not be able to share all of them, we do want to encourage our readers to search them out - and to pray.  Let's pray for the delegates! For courage. For inspiration. For letting the spirit move them.  In Glasgow itself, the Faith community is active in these two weeks, including the Anglican and Episcopal Communion. Local churches are open and inviting delegates for prayer and spiritual strengthening. We over here are far away though. So let's reach out to all of them through our prayers!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Blog#42: On COVID masks - good to know?

October 28, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
I enjoy writing (and researching) about solutions to environmental challenges. Who would not? When we began designing the concept for this Blog, the vision that drove us was to provide useful information, ideally solution-oriented. The Blog is to help those of us in the Christ Church community who felt like “drowning in bad news” insofar as our environment and its somewhat dwindling prospects were concerned. It seeks to offer practical ideas and inspiration on things everyone can do - by themselves or as a community - in addressing the broad gamut of challenges we face, from practicing lower resource-use consumer behaviors, to participating in policy initiatives and activism, to prayer. Practice, Participate, Pray. Easy, one might think. But sometimes, it can get really really hard. Mainly, when there is no clear way out: When there is a conundrum that seems unsolvable.
One such conundrum involves the COVID19 masks, mainly FFP2 masks and the ‘regular’ surgical masks. Now, that autumn is bringing us the fourth wave of the pandemic, here in Austria as well as in many other parts of the world, masks are back. Under current regulations, across most of Austria, irrespective of whether or not you can provide proof of “3 G” (tested, recovered, or vaccinated) you must wear a mask in shops of “daily needs”, such as food stores and supermarkets, in public transport, or in places of cultural exchange. The rules are somewhat tighter in Vienna - but mostly insofar as the 3G (or 2G) requirements are concerned. The masks will be with us for at least the next six months, if not longer. I am really glad they are required here - so there is no silly debate with folks who don’t care to protect themselves or others. But we don’t see the masks only on people’s faces - we see them practically everywhere. Lying on the sidewalks, dropped carelessly, falling out of overflowing waste collection bins, blown by the autumn winds across street and parks. We read in the newspapers how they are floating in the ocean, clogging airwaves of fish, contaminating rivers and watersheds. Clearly, there is a dramatic environmental impact from wearing masks - and there is nothing we can do about it. Or is there?  

Foto: FFP2 masks - they seem everywhere. How do we best deal with the environmental impact they leave behind? Foto: MWF.  

Every day, an April 2021 article in the National Geographic reports, some 3.4 billion face masks or face shields are discarded. That seems a lot. Try multiplying this by 365! And then double it: The pandemic will complete its second year in March 2022!  Even more worrisome: These wretched things take awfully long until they decompose - somewhere between 20 and 450 years, depending on the mask you are using. And what happens during decomposition is neither a great prospect: FFP2, surgical masks and the like are made from multiple plastic fibers, primarily polypropylene, that will fragment into smaller and smaller microplastics and nanoplastics. These, in turn, do all sorts of things to our environment, our rivers and seas, and scientists are concerned about all of this but have not really figured out the exact impacts and what to do about them.
Now, there are no alternatives to wearing a mask while in a pandemic, short of complete isolation. Here in Austria, the very safest and best masks - FFP2 masks or equivalent ones, are required by law. So we have not many choices it seems. There are ways to carefully manage use and re-use that one may want to consider. And there are some alternatives to the standard FFP2 masks that meet the quality requirements but that can be re-used more often and over a longer period of time. I have checked out masks from 5logPro and from Livinguard, both are FFP2 equivalent, and I found them both pleasant to wear. But more research is needed and in the making, in particular in regard to the materials used. For now, though, my conclusion is: COVID19 has added to our environmental footprint, and there seems indeed little we can do about it. Or is there?

Foto: Mask can take a long time to decompose.  Source: www.miamasuku.det.

Six months ago or so, Robert had sent me an email - asking that I write a blog about the environmental issues associated with facemasks. No, I said at the time, too complicated, too big a problem, nothing we can do about it. Not a topic for the Blog, I thought at the time. Why did I change my mind? Well, first of all: The way we deal with the masks here in Vienna, while less than ideal, stil warrants our attention and support: The masks are to go into the grey tons - the Restmüll - and not into either paper collection bins, nor for recycling, nor into compostables. Oddly enough, it seems not a whole lot of people know this - a piece of information worthwhile passing on! Secondly, I thought it’s good to know that the city of Vienna sends its Restmüll to  the  incinerators - in four locations, in Spittelau, Floetzersteig, Simmeringer Haide and Pfaffenau. And while waste incineration in principle is not ideal, given the emissions this generates, here in Vienna Wienergie proudly announces, on its website, that their incinerators’ emissions are super-low, achieving levels 90% less than what European emissions standards allow. And finally, I have come to agree with what Robert told me at the time: We don’t have to have a solution to make information worthwhile sharing. It helps us understand the relationship between us, the way we (must) live, and the environment.
In his request for a blog, Robert had suggested that I go further. Compare different FFP2 mask brands and their impact on the environment. Some may be produced in countries with lower environmental controls. I could highlight that some come with more packaging than others. Perhaps I might suggest to those that travel abroad to stock up with e.g N95 masks because they are supposed to be able to worne longer. But here I had to give up. I simply could not find good test reports that systematically look at all these questions. Clearly, there is a lot to find out. Maybe we can also crowdsource some of the answers. Let us know if you have interesting resources to quote - we will put them out here in the months to come. 
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..