"The best thing after starting Viertel \ Vor are the great people we are meeting all the time." -Marcus
Which one of you started with this sustainable lifestyle?
Anna: We kind of started together – or rather we’re still on the way. For me personally the start into a greener everyday life was definitely facial care. I’ve been using natural cosmetics ever since I had an interest in beauty products. The idea of rubbing chemistry in my face was always a no go for me! I've also been a vegetarian for six or seven years now and am always interested to know where my food comes from, but the real big change in my life came with Marcus, when we both came to a point where we talked a lot about what really matters in life, how much we really need and stuff like that. We bought a house on the countryside near Berlin, found back to nature more and more – and founded our online-magazine viertel-vor.com. VIERTEL \ VOR is a way for us to learn and grow together with each other, our readers and followers!
Marcus: We also got bored by the always recurring trends and the consumption lifestyle of our western culture. I can’t find anything interesting in going to a mall and don't feel satisfied by buying anything. The whole topic of sustainability on the other hand, is a real challenge that questions our whole socialization. This is much more exciting and we are happy to combine a good purpose with our skills.
On your website you state that you only work with brands who care about sustainability as much as you do, have you always been able to work like this?
Anna: Of course not! We worked for all kinds of publishing companies, agencies and brands for years. But that’s exactly what I want to change by running VIERTEL \ VOR. It is not only a magazine, but also our portfolio. My future-goal is to only work for sustainable clients, with V \ V – and also as a journalist and copywriter. Until I can afford that, I’m still keeping some of my old clients. For co-operations on the blog however, we only choose brands who we think are green and transparent enough.
Marcus: I also worked for or with non-sustainable brands. We are realists and we are not against the system in general. We just want a more intelligent system and more educated people who know the consequences of their actions.
Have you ever rejected a financially good offer because of lacking sustainable interests of your clients? If so how did it feel?
Marcus: I think I turned down the offer of a client to produce a video for them. I used to work for them before, but after learned about their role in todays economy it would stand against anything I believe in. I can’t afford to always think like that, but I think there are red lines for me I don’t want to cross anymore, no matter how much money they give me.
Anna: Same for me. I rejected such a job seven or eight month ago for the first time. This really huge client wanted me as a journalist and also as the founder of V\V to create content for their new sustainability-project. I first thought: cool! But two minutes later I realized, that that’s exactly what I don’t want to do – especially not being a part of letting a company look greener or even more ethical than it is. So I said no – to the job and to lots of money. I felt really great and strong and proud because it felt like truly being me and not to be bending for a job or an alleged opportunity.
There are so many ways to approach sustainability, can you describe where you set the standard for yourself and for those you work with?
Marcus: I think the best thing after starting Viertel \ Vor are the great people we are meeting all the time. Everyone is not just doing a job, but they are committed to a bigger thing – making the world better somehow. It’s a great community and if you are still searching to do something meaningful with your work-life – sustainable jobs in every form are very satisfying.
Anna: Absolutely! Our approach is to convey their stories, experiences and green topics in general with style and fun. We want to give sustainability-content the same attractive frame as other lifestyle-reports. And we want to feature a new kind of role-model, people who aren’t that big on social media – but on a corn field, in a chicken coop, in a laboratory or university.
Marcus, you mentioned, that you just stopped buying new clothing, and you're just wearing your old stuff until the end, did you used to think differently?
Marcus: I never had much money as a teenager or when I went to University – so I started to buy second hand when I was 16. Back then it was still really cheap and I became a little hunter for cool stuff. Later when I earned my first money I started to spend money on Sneakers or other brand stuff that I liked. After a while I realized the enormous pressure of the brands marketing. One day they tell you black is the big thing, the next day they are all about white and so on. It’s all a big game and it’s your own thing if you want to play it. In the end I was looking into my wardrobe and saw enough sneakers, sweaters, jackets and Tees to wear for a lifetime. I realized that I just don’t need anything anymore, at least for the next couple of years. I think if you just have some all time classics you can look slick anytime. In the end it’s just about the small details of how you wear something to show if you understand the urban codes.
Anna: That’s one of the reasons why I’m right in the middle of the experiment of buying no new stuff for one year at the moment. Might not sound so very difficult for some people, but for me it’s a new kind of lifestyle, because I used to be a big shopper for years. By trying how no shopping feels, I soon realized, that my personal style truly doesn’t need so many pieces. I think I’m still a little bit more interested in consuming than I’d like to be – and I’m always totally into good clothes and looking good in my fashion, but I’m sure when my test-year is over, I’ll buy much less, more of what I really want and stuff I’ll wear and love for a long time.
And what happens when your clothes are all worn out?
Marcus: I think when I would really need something new I would first look out for some Second Hand stuff. This is always the most sustainable because it was already produced and you don’t need any new resources. Second I would look out for Fair Fashion items. There are some really cool new brands coming up with alternative productions.
Anna: Nothing more to say! Oh, maybe there is: Swapping! Or checking out the borrowing system of kleiderei.
In this photo Marcus is sitting on a dresser – is this his natural work habitat?
Marcus: Haha, no. It was a quick self-portrait for a Blog post. But I really love to work not sitting at a desk.
You two are a couple, do you think it would make a difference if the other person did not care so much about nature and sustainability?
Anna: In our work-life? Sure! We wouldn’t run this blog together. And in private… hmmm. Maybe. But for me green lifestyle is all about awareness, and I think whenever one partner, family member, friend or colleague is into sustainability with his heart and without heavy preaching – the people in their environment usually will find more awareness for sustainable topics, too.
Marcus: Yes. I think everyone should decide for themselves how much effort he or she wants to put into a sustainable lifestyle, but I think if anyone really thinks about this topic you just can not do nothing. If you have the knowledge about what’s going on and you don’t care – I would call that ignorant. I think it is our goal to tell the people about the possibilities they have towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Interviewed March 2017by Cherie Birkner