Swaantje’s generation


‘I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and it was the time when pretty much everybody was convinced that when it comes to the protection of the environment, we were all messing it up. What people would tell us as children was, us adults, we have messed it up, so now it’s on you’, I’m told by Swaantje Güntzel, an artist who engages with plastic and waste in her performances and in the images she creates. As a child, she was barely able to deal with the burden of this topic. She experienced depression and tried to be an activist, but always felt small, alone and powerless.

She wasn’t the only one. Continue reading “Swaantje’s generation”

Inheriting the Anthropocene

Artist Swaantje Güntzel clears a squaremeter of beach of microplastics in Lanzarote (Spain). During her intervention, she counted 1370 pieces. Image: Jan Philip Scheibe

Edited version of the article translated by Sebastian Smallshaw and published by Salzburg festival

Kamilo Beach is wild and beautiful. Shallow tide pools formed from black volcanic rock extend to the deep blue sea, while lush green vegetation hugs the white sandy beach at the southern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island. There are no tourists as far as the eye can see in this remote place.

Nonetheless, Kamilo has a worldwide reputation. The ‘plastic beach’ has become a symbol of the impact of human mass consumption. Continue reading “Inheriting the Anthropocene”

Ep.7: Confused about bioplastics?


What happens if bioplastics end up in the environment? In this episode, Anja takes a closer look at synthetic polymers marketed as more environmentally friendly. Can they contribute to a healthier planet, and in what way? Anja talks to Frederik Wurm, a chemist developing biodegradable plastics, Constance Ißbrücker of the industry association European Bioplastics, Zero Waste expert Enzo Favoino, marine microbiologist Linda Amaral-Zettler and ecotoxicologist Lisa Zimmermann. Though biodegradable plastics might not fullfill our hopes, it turns out that they might make sense in some niche applications.

Music: Dorian Roy and Blue Dot Sessions
Cover art: Maren von Stockhausen
Thanks to: Ines Blaesius, Stephanie Hood, Luisa Beck, Sirine Rached, MPIWG, University of Plymouth, Marcus Anhäuser
German post on RiffReporter

This episode was inspired and partly supported by Ensia, the solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet. Read Anja’s Ensia article on bioplastics.

>>>Transcript with links and images

Are bioplastics better for the environment than conventional plastics?

Published on Ensia, republished by Undark, Revelator, The Wire

Confusion among terms like bioplastics, bio-based and biodegradable plastics makes it hard to discern — and make — the environmentally responsible choice.

Have you ever stood in front of a supermarket shelf and wondered if you should buy that product made from bioplastics rather than the conventional kind? Many people assume all bioplastics are made from plants and can break down completely in the environment. But that’s not the case. Continue reading “Are bioplastics better for the environment than conventional plastics?”

Ep.7 Transcript: Confused about bioplastics?

Ambi street

Woman from India
Even in India, I think there are a bunch of companies that have started offering especially garbage bags or products made, you know, out of bioplastic – I think it’s a great initiative. I’m not so sure what goes behind it, as in, you know, how, I mean, how less polluting is it to the environment, do you still need to take it to the landfill, or…so I’m still very unclear on the bioplastics to be very honest. I do use it, but I’m not sure about the technologies behind it. Continue reading “Ep.7 Transcript: Confused about bioplastics?”

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