Blog 1710 Stellamina Neubaueyewear Saskiastolzlechner 4

Visit the green and glowing world of Ami­na Stel­la Steiner

Getting a glimpse into Vienna based Amina Stella Steiner's light flooded flat and conscious day to day life we can't help but feel a little envy.

Run­ning the sus­taina­bi­li­ty focu­sed life­style blog Stella­mi­na as well as working as a pro­ject mana­ger in a digi­tal agen­cy, Ami­na not only is an expert when it comes to ever­ything online, but also exact­ly knows how to embrace the com­ple­te oppo­si­te: natu­re and the envi­ron­ment. Be it home­grown vege­ta­bles, hand-sewn clothes, or a fair fashion gui­de, this crea­ti­ve thin­ker not only shows how easy a con­scious and resource­ful life­style can be, but also how meti­cu­lous­ly sty­lish it can look at the same time. Luck­i­ly, Ami­na invi­ted us into her green and glowing flat and world, sharing a few of her best tips for a sus­tainab­le life­style and showing the pie­ces most essen­ti­al to her con­si­de­ra­te possessions.

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When and why did you start ques­tio­ning your con­su­mer and eating beha­vi­or?
It might sound like a cli­ché but it was a movie that kick-star­ted my sus­taina­bi­li­ty jour­ney. The ground­work howe­ver has alrea­dy been made by my par­ents. Local and qua­li­ty pro­ducts were always just as nor­mal to me as going to the far­mers mar­ket once a week. I of cour­se had a small rebel pha­se of a few mon­ths, but when I saw the movie We feed the world” at the age of four­te­en I immedia­te­ly stop­ped eating meat, final­ly unders­tood my par­ents’ approach and star­ted to re-think my decisi­ons. I read and lear­ned a lot in the fol­lowing years. When knowing more about food pro­duc­tion, agri­cul­tu­re and poli­ci­es, beco­m­ing vegan was a logi­cal step. From the­re the road led to other parts of life such as local pro­duc­tion, fair fashion, and zero-was­te. It was and is step-by-step lear­ning and implementing.

What were the har­dest steps to chan­ge your life for the pur­po­se of sus­taina­bi­li­ty?
To be honest, I never found it dif­fi­cult but rather very exci­ting! Sear­ching for alter­na­ti­ves awa­kens my crea­ti­ve and curious spi­rit. The only thing that some­ti­mes is dif­fi­cult is when other peop­le feel restric­ted by my choices of living. I am pro­bab­ly the most uncom­pli­ca­ted per­son in regard to vega­nism and sus­taina­bi­li­ty, never losing a word about it if not asked to and also allowing mys­elf excep­ti­ons whenever I feel like it – but my life­style is of cour­se a con­stant remin­der to other peop­le that some things could easi­ly be chan­ged in dai­ly life. Some are thank­ful for my soft influ­ence – others are not.

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Is the­re one par­ti­cu­lar pre­ju­di­ce that you’re often con­fron­ted with when other peop­le hear about your life­style?
I most­ly get asked if this sort of life is extre­me­ly restric­ti­ve and dif­fi­cult. Too much thin­king – too litt­le plea­su­re. But let’s be honest. How would my life­style pre­vent me from having fun, going out, and expe­ri­en­cing ama­zing moments? It’s true that the­re is a lot of rese­arch and infor­ma­ti­on invol­ved, but as with most things in life, it’s also about estab­li­shing habits which then make the who­le thing very easy in the end. In fact, I find gre­at joy in it, as being restric­ted” also leads you to be more inte­res­ted and go on a con­stant dis­co­very hunt. Through this I got to know pro­ducts but main­ly also peop­le and pla­ces I would have pro­bab­ly not dis­co­ve­r­ed other­wi­se. When tra­ve­ling for examp­le I do not sit in the first cof­fee place I find but ask peop­le for their spe­cial advice and dis­co­ver many secret spots.

Health is ano­t­her topic many con­ver­sa­ti­ons revol­ve around – and money. It is still belie­ved that a vegan diet leads to the lack of vit­amins & co. I do agree that one has to be very con­scious about that and eat extre­me­ly well-balan­ced, yet after five years of a (near­ly) vegan diet I still feel like a super ener­gi­zed quir­ky per­son – hit­ting the gym five times a week. Regio­nal food can be shop­ped way less expen­si­ve than other food. I did an expe­ri­ment on low-bud­get orga­nic food shop­ping once. Sus­tainab­le pro­ducts in terms of clot­hing, home, and sta­tio­na­ry are inde­ed more expen­si­ve – but the past has also pro­ven to me that tho­se pro­ducts have a very long life­time and do ful­ly pay off.

How do you buy new appa­rel or access­ories? To what key fac­tors do you attach gre­at impor­t­ance?
The­re is not much of a sys­tem behind of my purcha­ses. Rela­ted to food I main­ly watch out for regio­na­li­ty and litt­le pack­a­ging. And I go to the far­mers mar­ket once a week. Fashion and other pro­ducts are most­ly emo­tio­nal purcha­ses that meet my expec­ta­ti­ons of fair pro­duc­tion and sus­tainab­le mate­ri­als. Most of the things I own tell their per­so­nal sto­ry, eit­her con­nec­ted to their pro­duc­tion or the place I get them at.

Are the­re any stores, restau­rants, cafés, bars in your favo­ri­te districts of Vien­na that you like going to and that ful­fill your ethi­cal stan­dards?
I actual­ly have three districts I move and life in. One of them being the fifth district whe­re my flat is. The Buda­pest Bis­tro is like a second living room and fami­ly to me – ser­ving good bre­ak­fast and won­der­ful Hun­ga­ri­an (also vegan) pas­tries. The owner of the cof­fee place pro­bab­ly knows as much about my rela­ti­ons­hips as my team does. The Aro­mat” is my place to go when I want to go out and real­ly talk to some­bo­dy. It is a super tiny French bis­tro offe­ring crê­pes and galet­tes and is not only ama­zin­gly sty­lish but also a calm and rela­xing place. Other than that, the Zweit­bes­ter and Figar are always good for cof­fee and lunch. Lon­ger nights might be spent at Werk­zeugH. The seventh district has also liter­al­ly been my second living room for the past two years, due to my work. The­re are many pla­ces to go, but you defi­ni­te­ly should­n’t miss out on the Wolf­gang cof­fee and Tata restau­rant as much as the second Figar in town.

My agen­cy will move to the first district soon, the district whe­re I’ve been working when I came to Vien­na. I will have to dis­co­ver pla­ces the­re but the Tian restau­rant, my for­mer working place, and the Miz­non are must-visit pla­ces too – I just rea­li­ze I should pro­bab­ly do district foo­die tours.

When it comes to clot­hing I most­ly shop when tra­ve­ling, or online from labels I know. In Vien­na I love the vin­ta­ge shop at Burggasse24 and Klei­der Machen Glück­lich. Vien­na is lacking mul­ti-brand fair fashion shops though. I also lea­ve qui­te some money at the Saint Charles phar­ma­cy, whe­re I get my fan­cy health supplies.

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You were showing us around in your flat and we dis­co­ve­r­ed qui­te a few DIY projects…

The who­le flat is a con­stant DIY pro­ject of mine – but it has also been the DIY pro­ject of my uncle in ear­lier times. When he was stu­dy­ing archi­tec­tu­re he rebuilt the apart­ment, and made all the floo­rs, and con­struc­tions hims­elf. This is also why I have such a strong con­nec­tion to the place. It’s near­ly ent­i­re­ly hand­ma­de, white and woo­den and has beau­ti­ful light. When I moved in I tried to get rid of ever­ything I do not need and found my own style trough mini­ma­list colors and plants. Not becau­se of Pin­te­rest though, tho­se things just cros­sed my way. So did the stands that I got from a muse­um stock clea­ning and many other pie­ces. One can con­si­der the naked man I drew a DIY, and also the kit­chen shelf I built. Addi­tio­nal­ly, my sewing machi­ne – as I do not only sew some of my clot­hing but also curtains, kit­chen towels and so on.

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Tell us more about your micro far­ming / urban gar­de­ning aspi­ra­ti­ons – do you have any tips?
I tried a lot and fai­led a lot. When I had to rea­li­ze that gro­wing veg­gi­es does not qui­te fit into my dai­ly rou­ti­ne – poor straw­ber­ries – I deci­ded to opt for the mini­ma­list ver­si­on – gro­wing sprouts and micro veg­gi­es. Both of it is a very rela­xing and beau­ti­ful pro­cess resul­ting in a glass of fresh veg­gi­es at the end of a week. Rather than food it is more of a healt­hy add-on and con­nec­tion to food pro­duc­tion for me. But I still have more pro­jects plan­ned – gro­wing mushrooms on cof­fee ground and having my own com­post, are up next!

What’s your favo­ri­te part of your flat?
My living room. Defi­ni­te­ly. It is at the heart of my flat and the place to relax and unwind. It tells many sto­ries and is yet calm and friend­ly. It’s the place for crea­ti­vi­ty, work and rela­xa­ti­on at the same time – yes, that’s possible.

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What’s your favo­ri­te book at the moment?

I rare­ly have favo­ri­te books. It’s always the book I cur­r­ent­ly read tha­t’s my favo­ri­te. But I do have book com­pa­n­ions that I get back to again and again. One of them – Komm, ich erzäh­le dir eine Geschich­te”, by Jor­ge Bucay – was given to me a year ago by a friend. How to get along with the wirr­warr of life? With sto­ries! Fai­ry tales from around the world, sufi-para­bles, zen wis­doms, antique sagas that we all can con­nect to, help to under­stand our pro­blems, fears, and remind us of the essence of rela­ti­ons­hips and per­so­nal dri­ve. Tools of titans” was recom­men­ded to me by ano­t­her friend. It collects life hacks from the most suc­cess­ful and inte­res­ting peop­le around the world. Sepa­ra­ted into the dif­fe­rent are­as of life like body and mind, it is the per­fect book to ran­dom­ly open on any page and get inspi­ra­ti­on from. It’s also a bit dan­ge­rous becau­se I tend to try ever­ything I read – which led to a three-day fas­ting after one chap­ter and cof­fee with loads of coco­nut oil after ano­t­her. The 50 secrets of love,” by Elif Shafak is ano­t­her beau­ti­ful book I’d high­ly recom­mend to read.

What pie­ce you own has the most value to you?
Near­ly every pie­ce in my flat has its very own sto­ry and is very dear to me. My cushions and sofa cover for examp­le have been cus­tom made by a fema­le entre­pre­neur in Ethio­pia when I was visi­t­ing her for a pro­ject. The rugs are hand­ma­de from recy­cled yarn, the stands from a muse­um – and so on. One of my favo­ri­te pie­ces though is the make-up table – a heir­loom of my grand­ma. It’s a bit of a para­dox as I rare­ly put any make up on, but it is one of the very few things I have left from here and when I moved to this flat and saw the spot bet­ween the two win­dows, I knew it belon­ged right the­re. Ano­t­her one is the Paul Flo­ra drawing, ano­t­her heir­loom. And only recent­ly it got a coun­ter­part by a young Vien­nese artist, Frau Isa, which reminds me of being strong and fol­lowing my path.

The most unex­pec­ted thing in your flat?
I guess that’s my toi­let, which is out­side of my flat. It’s a typi­cal­ly Vien­nese thing. But it might also be the fact that I only have one wash­ba­sin for my kit­chen and bathroom.

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Hea­der Image by Saskia Stolz­lech­ner

24 Okt. 2017 · NEUBAU EYEWEAR
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