Writer trades shopping for hunter-gathering
For a year writer Greta Taubert turned her back on consumerism in favour of self-sufficiency. Her experiment in independent living doubled up as preparation for an apocalypse, making her The Local’s German of the Week.
As the world's banking institutions began to crumble in 2008 and the economies in several European countries collapsed, Taubert wondered what would happen if society as she knew it broke down.
"I began to wonder what was going on in the world around me," the 30-year-old told news agency DPA.
The Leipzig-based writer set about testing her survival potential and documented her experiences in a book entitled "Apokalypse Jetzt" (Apocalypse Now).
To prepare for her new life, Taubert, who lost 20 kilogrammes in the year, purchased the emergency rations recommended by the German government in case of disaster. They include tinned meat, fruit and vegetables, potatoes and rice. She also went hunting in the woods, grew her own food and stopped buying clothes.
Her grandparents proved an invaluable source of advice. "They're much smarter than we are. The war and post-war generation have had personal experiences of shortages," Taubert told Spiegel Online.
At first her grandparents were perplexed by Taubert's desire to learn how to slaughter a pig, conserve fruit and make alcohol. "[They said] I could just buy the stuff. I had to make it clear to them that for my generation, it's a cultural loss. That we go on YouTube in search of skills like that," Taubert said.
She also began to meet other people who had chosen to reject consumerism. They included a man who lived entirely on mushrooms and a woman who lived off a diet of herbs.
Inspired perhaps by their experiences, or simply not enamored by hunting, Taubert turned vegetarian, something she claims she got used to very quickly. She also scavenged for food discarded by shops and bakeries.
Taubert's idea of an apocalypse has less to do with plagues of locust than with long-term sustainability.
“A lack of resources, population growth, reliance on consumer chains - these are the things which scare me. Imagine you had to do without anything produced from crude oil. You'd live in a hut and brush your teeth with a root," she told Spiegel Online.
The writer believes recent history is testament to the fact that society can change fundamentally from one generation to the next.
"It's not inconceivable that systems break down. I myself am an East German, my parents had to learn to cope after German reunification and my grandparents grew up in the Third Reich," she said.
Since completing her year-long experiment, Taubert has continued to reject consumerism. She now only gets new clothes through swaps and still grows her own food.
"The bottom line is that we shouldn't wait for the bad times to come ... we should start re-thinking now how we can do things differently," said Taubert.