Saturday, August 10, 2019

Cute Shit: The Bagworm Moth Caterpillar

It's also been a good long time since I've talked about and dumped photos of a cute interesting animal, so here's one for you: the bagworm moth caterpillar (and adult female moth).

For once I'm interested in the larval stage and not the moth itself, as photos of incredible tiny "log cabins" have been circulating on social media recently.

Basically there are shitloads of moths in the family the bagworm moth belongs to, and there is more than one species of "case bearer" (which would make a good song or album title or band name as one word) moth, which in some cases belongs to a totally different family of shitloads of other moths, and is unrelated.

For example, some of the case-builders or -bearers live in cedar and other evergreen trees, hatching and immediately covering themselves up with whatever they can grab and attach with coccoon silk:

(Jim Rathert)

Only the adult male moths emerge to find females to breed with. It sounds kind of sad to me, anyway, that the females never leave their cases, or do so for just long enough to procreate. But then, I guess it's not sad, because look! This one lives in a tiny hat:

c h a r m i n g

I can't lie to you about cuteness in a Cute Shit post, though: these little fuckers are actually pretty ugly under there.

(Nikita Hengbok)

Sorry about that.

But, onto the best part: the case bearers that chew off lengths of stem and sprig to stack atop themselves, resulting in log cabin-like structures that are sometimes pyramidal, sometimes spiraling, and sometimes both, because the stems and sprigs dry out and harden.

It's kind of like if a turtle had to build its own shell.


Oh, a heckin upside-down guy

Oof, extreme core strength

(Chien C. Lee)
Aww! Do you perhaps have rustic handcrafted wares for me to purchase, tiny travelling merchant?!

Aww, oh no! Look at how tiny this heckin upside-down guy is!

(Fujimoto Koh)
Oh noooo, his twigs are mossy! Stahp!

I think this incredibly quaint, high-resolution image of a mossy spiral "cabin" is the main one floating around right now. It occurred to me that we would also find this instantly adorable because "bagworm" is pretty reminiscent of "Baggins". Both are simple little creatures that spend their lives in comfortable tiny houses and rarely venture out, if ever.

Finally, here are some really lovely, compelling images of what is presumably a totally different species of case-bearing moth, in the South Sinai region of Israel!

Oh man, I love it!

Bagworm moths are found throughout the Eastern and Southern United States, too, so if you've ever seen a little cocoon-like clump of dried leaves or other plant detritus, it was probably meant to be a log cabin but didn't turn out as nice! 
You can read more about the little buggers here, and they also included a picture of a very cute, soft, furry adult; they don't stay creepy and gross. Weird tiny doggo, but still a good boy.

Since I'm perpetually in Catch Up Mode and still need to trim, stick together, and upload the videos from last winter onward, and continue with blog posts from the end of this April onward, here are some of those other nature posts I mentioned if you're interested:

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

I Have Three Instagram Accounts

That's right, three. 

I decided to try out having a third one on April Fool's Day and see how it went.

(Pretty well, imo, but that'll come later. This is long. Some people might consider it extremely long. Scroll to the bottom for the TL;DR and my point!)

You might be thinking, "Man, this is what's wrong with people today,", or "How?", or "Is she really that addicted to social media? I knew she posted a lot, but.. -cringes and shakes head slightly in concern-", but I've thought about all of this stuff a lot, and that's why I'm writing something about it. 

And no, to the first and third ones.

I'm not rationalising my frequent image posting or justifying myself because I feel kind of guilty and embarrassed about it, because I don't; just laying out my thoughts on the topic. It's been a while since I've done one of these (a)Musings posts, or since I've posted about anything current at all for that matter (Jesus take the wheel), and Hannes and I discussed it recently, and it's relevant. It's really, really relevant to everything.

Let's go back to the beginning.

I finally joined IG at the end of 2014, shortly before leaving Korea. 

The last time I actually had to be somewhere for regular hours all day was 2013, and before that, it was when I was working summers in Phoenix from 2004 to 2007, full-time, but just seasonally. 2014 was the last time I had a regular monthly salary, albeit a shitty one, but even then, I wasn't working anything resembling standard human hours, and definitely way less than 40 a week, unless you count the sometimes-extensive travel time, or that month I lived at an oil refinery. 
I've spent most of my adult working life as a dispatch employee, getting sent to different offices and schools and other places, in many different cities, to do my lesson-, conversation-, or training-based work there for 45 or 90 or 180 minutes, or even a full day, and then leave again. 

Some of you might know this very well, or maybe you just have a vague idea about how I've worked and lived abroad. So, well, it's pretty non-traditional. Shocking, I know. 

I'm a free radical, without any actual coworkers or managers, or a desk or a computer, a particle floating across the grid and through the subway system underneath it. Sometimes it'll be an entire week of going to work in brand new places, at all different times, and working with people I've just met for the first and maybe only time that day. I'm well acquainted with an almost ridiculous range of people as a result, making jokes and puns with the CEO's of various companies just as freely and casually as I do with friends of friends over drinks. I also talk about grammar, and lately, about linguistics.
Hannes says it suits me perfectly. Even though I don't want to do it anymore I do love my job, so I guess he's probably right. He's usually right.

This is how and why I ended up being extremely interested in street art and tracking down the people responsible for the slaps, characters, and murals I see repeatedly in various places, and/or that I find especially striking. This is how and why I find myself trying charming and sometimes obscure new cafés and vegan restaurants and whatnot, if I'm near enough something I've bookmarked on Google Maps and feeling like actually spending money on myself. This is how and why I've found and gone to so many art exhibitions at galleries and museums. I've stumbled over crimes, protests, fights, fires, and all kinds of drama and craziness, just being constantly on the move in major cities, always with one ear and one eye tuned to and trained on what's happening nearby. Much of it is post-worthy. I like content, and I like generating interesting content. That's why I started this blog way back in '08 (,even if I did fall hopelessly behind on the posts about what we're doing and where we've gone from pre-2017 disk error onward). 

So, the first point to come of this stream-of-consciousness explanation of my heavy Instagram usage is that even my Mondays and Tuesdays are usually interesting, uncommon, and full of neat stuff like cute soy cappuccinos from small independent businesses, historically-relevant landmarks and architecture, and the expensive paintings law and logistics firms can afford to buy from prominent local artists and place in their corridors. 

I have huge schedule gaps because building up a full schedule of regular work as a freelancer takes time and effort, and these gaps afford me certain luxuries, of which I've learned to take advantage. These shareable luxuries are actually really simple things, if you just take a few minutes to stop and notice them, or to search for interesting things that are going on in your area. I share what my unorthodox working life allows me to experience because I am living my best life, and I want other people to do that, too.

I'm also pretty OCD and take way too many fucking photos all the time.

When Hannes and I had a big discussion about this whole thing, this was his main point, and like I said, he's usually right about stuff, as well as things. The past couple of months I've made an active effort to pare down the really unhealthy and borderline-obscene number of photos I've been taking, because, as he said: the tendency to be snapping and videoing constantly naturally raises the concern that documenting has become a reflex that overrides one's ability to fully be present for, enjoy, and experience things, and to socialise and connect properly with the other people who are also present.

A lot of people do this. A lot of people do this for likes. Getting a like on social media causes a little burst of dopamine release in your brain, the same way a drag on a cigarette or starting to feel buzzed from alcohol does. It's literally, verifiably addictive. It's why playing those Facebook games about farming or running a restaurant or much more complicated role-playing games, massively-multiplayer or not, is also an extremely effective, extremely addictive form of escapism: the dopamine releases, coupled with the illusion of progress and accomplishment. 

When people need a fix, it changes their personality and the way they behave, because whatever the substance or action in question is elbows its way to the top of their list of priorities, and that's why we talk about this first part, about self-censored, self-glorification platforms like Instagram fucking society up so bad: you only post the things you want others to see, which means leaving out the boring, daily, normal, or even really shitty or sad things, so that suddenly the reality that everyone presents to their friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances does not match up with the one they're living. 

We all feel anxiety and peer pressure to be cooler, be more interesting, do more, and be more like whoever, even though most of us know that's fundamentally impossible because we're all only cherry-picking the best of the best, especially celebrities and influencers. There are professional photographers, paid sponsorships, and dozens of unused selfie attempts involved in what they do. There's no way to even achieve similar content without a huge amount of effort and some expense.. which comes into play later on.
Next, after jumping on this trans-reality dopamine train, we get addicted to and hooked on almost-reality-but-better, and we want to go to that amazing adorable coffee shop and get that fancy-ass manicure and make sure we get a makeup-perfect friend squad selfie with that Minnie Mouse bubble waffle at Disneyland Hong Kong or whatever. That whole gag-worthy series of photos of the girlfriend leading the boyfriend around the world by the hand while his unfortunate other hand is stuck photographing his narcissistic girlfriend (and her butt that looks good in literally anything, so I guess it's not all bad for him) for their whole trip, you know?

This second part is the crux of this post and why I'm reflecting on and talking at length about my social media use: this is the behaviour- and personality-altering part.

In the pursuit of the coveted golden likes, our priorities change. 
I am guilty of this, too. 

When our priorities change, and when certain highly-shareable things are brought to our attention, we naturally go after or try to emulate them. Flat-lays are a good example of this because of how achievable they are for normal people.
Flay lay is a type of still life photography in which you simply place things nicely on a flat surface, most often a table, paying attention to things like the colour scheme and composition. Are you thinking of food? Beautiful food? Yes, me too. Of course. At those London coffee shops I'm dying to spend too much money at, specifically. Ugh, goddamnit.

There are other kinds of flat-lays, too, though: I think it's one of the best ways to photograph books, for example. Because I mean, how else? I just snap a smartphone pic of the cover of whatever I'm reading, sometimes with myself or some of my location or my coffee included, and some people focus on "Chapter 1" or something similarly easy, with a bit of the park or the beach they're relaxing at in the background, but the flay lay is the expert level. 
Case in point:

(Couldn't find the author)

Oh very nice, very pretty. But there's a lot going on here.
The first two evoke moods and sensations, the second one a lifestyle, and the third one products or consumerism in general.

The two things these all have in common are that they all include coffee, and that they all inevitably include hard, straight lines in their composition, because well, books. They have edge and corners.

The first photo is a mood. The photographer focused on the surface of the coffee. Warm, clean, fresh, unbothered, untroubled, ideal. We want this feeling. We like.
The second photo is almost the same in terms of content, but overall is totally different. It's also clean and fresh, idealised and romanticised, but it's a bit brooding, dark and dramatic, though not too intense..! In an accessible way. It is almost definitely raining outside. Mmm, moody. Also shiny silver calligraphy title and old-fashioned fountain pen? I like.
The third one? An urbane, educated, successful young professional who is also cultured and seeking a way to include a little bit of nature and spirituality in their otherwise sterile and busy life. I get it, but do not relate and do not like. 
Finally, the last one is straight-up plugging the lip gloss and the book itself as products. Notice that she - assuming it's a "she" - intentionally or unintentionally covered up the "Bad" in "Bad Habits" there. The Paulo Coelho hipster-yuppie doesn't feel guilty about his lifestyle, he's just looking for balance. But this person does. There's insecurity in vanity and materialism, and that manifests itself visually, which seems really negative, but it's actually a pretty great tactic. Why? Because it's relatable. (But not for me; definitely do not like.)

Want to see some of my flay lays? Sure you do.
I quickly looked through a bunch of my photos from last year, and.. er, well.. even more of them than I would have thought fall into this category.. Dang..

Stationery of mine that Anke brought back with her from the States!

Dinner! Like.. every single dinner, but I picked this one!

A very pink unicorny package for Sara and her adorable little daughters!

My random stamp collection!

Assorted souvenir swag from Prague!

My art purchases from Meika and the extras she included!

And.. oooh, I saved the real classic for last!

It's a slice of the gluten-free vegan rhubarb cake Anke makes every year for Herrentag! The dried flowers and heart-shaped tea lights are from our wedding day. I should have taken this with a real camera, posted it on IG, and gotten a whole boatload of likes. Hah.

How many of your photos are flay lays? How much time do you spend arranging things while your boyfriend glares at you? I spend way too much time doing this. I do not want to spend way too much time doing this and will try to stop doing it so much. 

Going back to that Parisian fashionista wannabe: you know what else smacks of subtle guilt, vanity, and insecurity while presenting a front of either judgement-free nonchalance or measured self-consciousness? Popular tags like #shorthairdontcare, #greyhairdontcare, #curlyhairdontcare, and #feltcutemightdeletelater. You can't escape any of that even if you use these ironically, I realised, because you're still sharing your selfie, right? These tags are still relatable and you're not about to type something like #sexyandiknowit or #datass, right? Maybe you are, but.. Well, I think more people feel like and subscribe to the former.

Years ago I was ironically using hashtags, but.. was I? They weren't connected to anything back then when I was typing them on Facebook or in messages; I was making fun of how they had come to represent everything under the sun, I didn't have and have never had a Twitter account, and I had never actually used any functional ones. But still it was a successful and relatable method of conveying not only my thoughts at that moment, but my cynical opinion of the entire social media universe. Subtext. A nuanced opinion, an in-group joke, pop culture literacy. The hashtag format itself is a meme, an absurdly successful one.

I scrolled back to find the last time, and the only time I can think of, that I used a version of "felt cute, might delete later". I omitted the last part because it's bullshit, pretense, dishonest coyness. I liked my outfit. I added a selfie to the end of my story about my day. I am not ashamed of that.

My point is, though, that even people like Amanda Palmer, who show off their hairy armpits, makeup-less faces, crazy body paint and current absurd situations and locations, are still using those tags to reach people and get interactions even if they don't subscribe to crass consumerism or adhere to patriarchal beauty standards. Even using these funnily and ironically, you're perpetuating them and buying into the whole thing.

Our behaviour changing like this also changes the economy, which was already a given when platforms that become crazy profitable just through people using them for free first came about, though at the outset it was impossible to guess exactly how.

Companies and brands and even individuals can jump on trending hashtags for more views and interactions. Did you notice how many actors and other celebrities said they'd join the raid on Area 51? A lot. The tags are self-propagating social contagions, they make themselves the topics of our daily conversations. Free advertising, free marketing, free exposure.

Also, this isn't exactly relevant to my points about social media, but speaking of our increasingly unsettling ability to create our own realities..

Businesses can take advantage of gorgeous flay lays, hashtags, SEO keywords, and good social media marketing in general, or they can fall behind and become irrelevant. @londoncoffeeshops? Ugghhhh I love it. There are tons of places that market Instagrammable food, specifically, like those sundaes or shakes served in mason jars or mason jar mugs that are stacked outrageously high with cookies, candy, full-on actual slices of cake, and other toppings.

Guess what? I'm guilty of this too! Off the top of my head I can think of two very specific instances in which I went to a dessert place I found out about through this platform, because I wanted to, but also because I wanted to share my desserts from those places on this platform. Knowing about it and wanting to participate drove the behaviour; I didn't find something by chance or some other way and realise with pleasant surprise how lovely it was and decide to share it because of my good experience. The experience sought me out and beckoned me to be part of its in-group crowd, and I bought it, literally.

Most recently it was Polaberry in Amsterdam, because I wanted one of these sickeningly cute photos with one of their overpriced but very nice chocolate bars. Actually, my first choice was their even more sickeningly adorable little unicorn cake pops, but we were only in the city for a day and a half, and ended up being near Polaberry right before it closed, so there were only a few things left. And I still bought one of them.

The second one that instantly came to mind was the now-closed Dominique Ansel location in Omotesando, Tokyo. I was back in tourist mode for the whole hot-ass summer before we left, and was just doing as much fun stuff as possible. Both of these things were really good, and worth 1000 yen apiece honestly, considering what Tokyo prices are like. The Kawaii Monster Cafe down the road charges even more for its astonishingly shitty rainbow food.

To sum up, what's happening here, socially and economically? 
We're learning more about photography and photo editing and putting more time and effort into shareable, high-quality content. We're much more likely to invest in a smartphone or DSLR specifically because of professional image quality, which has become normalised and accessible, and is a priority.
We're engineering images, moods, and lifestyles, choosing what we want to convey to the rest of the world, how we want people to see us. We're all our own content managers or even reality TV shows now, in a way; that shit's supposed to be "real" but we all know it's planned and scripted half to death. There are even ways to pretend to be nonchalant, coy, or self-conscious about narcissistic over-sharing, as a sort of compensating mechanism for any guilt or anxiety you feel over participating.
We're much more likely to see, be attracted to, and visit or purchase from products, businesses, eateries, and other entities that take advantage of these desirable qualities, moods, and shareability, and these additive platforms themselves of course. The more active and clever we are, the more profitable we are. In the special case of celebrities, staying active and on-trend means staying relevant and remaining a household name.

Why am I playing this game? What's in it for me?

Well, I'm very visual and like taking pictures. I also tend to share a lot of them so that my family and friends all over the place can see what I'm up to, and also just because I feel like it. I don't consistently get a lot of likes. I don't even occasionally get a lot of likes. I still use a lot of hashtags, but I'm not really sure why; in some cases, it's so that other people can find or try things I thought were really good, or in the hopes that someone browsing around for ideas might find mine and be inspired. I'm not kidding myself about my pictures being some kind of altruistic, philanthropic enterprise or something, though; I like my life, and I think it's interesting and cool. Sometimes I take selfies when I actually am #feelingcute, but not very often. Mostly I'm the only one behind a camera, taking and sharing pics and videos of other people, and bands, and other peoples' paintings and sculptures and whatnot.

What else? Well, my second account I started late last year in an effort to push myself to create more, and to finish what I start. I wanted to participate in Inktober for the first time, and I did: it was a combination of drawing practice, trying a new medium (brush pens I was gifted for my birthday), and learning some more German, because my theme was new dark, spooky, or autumnal German words. I didn't get through the whole alphabet, but I did make it to "P"..!

So, the second account is all things I draw, paint, or otherwise make, and sometimes art exhibitions I visit. The discussion I had with Hannes started because he couldn't understand why I felt compelled to separate these aspects of my life into different feeds, and because he was worried that doing so would just end up snowballing out of control into a need to take even more photos and generate even more content for these parallel profiles. This is very reasonable and legitimate, but! I countered, I have gotten more organised and prioritised and finished noticeably more paintings and illustrations since I started this account. I can look and see at a glance how active or inactive I've been. If I haven't posted anything in five days, I think, "Oh, I'm letting this content stream languish. I'm not managing my time well enough to make room for drawing or crafting, and creativity is important to me, so I need to remember to do that and try harder. I want to get paid to illustrate things, and to get to that point I need to be both more prolific and consistent."

Here are some of the things I've drawn, painted, or otherwise made since the beginning of the year, starting with Kava Nope just because it's up there in the background:

The third account that I started four months ago was originally an experiment in eco-friendly brand repping. You know those spam comments and messages that are like, "Hey, we love your feed and would like for you to collaborate with us! DM for details!"? 
I had been getting so many of those that I decided to see what it was all about. Curiosity killing the cat, et cetera. I learned that there was something below the level of being an influencer, and that was being a "brand rep". I looked into a lot of companies, starting with beyondBeanie, because that was the straw that finally broke the camel's back and made me bite. Is this enough animal metaphors yet?

Something else that's really important to me is being environmentally-conscious. Hannes doesn't want me to waste my time and my life on taking, editing, and sharing photos, and he doesn't want me to prioritise things that have no tangible benefits. We had talked before, a few times, about somehow monetising my content, and I thought, maybe this is the way to do that. I have loads of photos from several different countries, a huge bank full of supplementary content. Beaches, mountains, trees, close-ups of exotic flowers.. I could totally be a brand rep for shares, like, and commissions!


I quickly realised, after going through the whole process of finding and researching companies, choosing those that present themselves as the best and most sustainable ones and also offer sales commissions, contacting them, applying and signing up for their "Ambassador Programs" to satisfy my curiosity and understand it all, that this whole thing is just a fucking pyramid scheme.

The only way to rep something effectively is to wear it, or otherwise photograph it, or yourself with it. You can repost companies' marketing content, but I really hate people who have profiles full of reposted content. It's pointless and gross. If that's the best you can do, get out of the fast lane and go back to fucking Pinterest you unoriginal hack.
But so, okay, you sign up and tell these people that you want to market their stuff and do a whole shitload of real, valuable work for them, actually.. for just a small sales commission! What is 10% of a $34 shirt? Right.. $3.40. How long is it going to take to hit the minimum PayPal payout amount of $50? Right.. a while. Probably a long while. More than a year, because how many people out there are using your unique discount code, and how many people are buying expensive-ass organic tree-shirts in the first place?
So the companies probably give you some kind of free promo thing or at least a deep discount to start out with, right?

No. Not really. 

The moment that I was done with this completely and washed my hands of it was when I posted a positive review of a company called The Great North on their Facebook page for a $5 coupon.

I didn't lie about anything; I said I was excited that they were using up to 70% bamboo in their shirt blends and that organic cotton is too water-expensive, so they should avoid it and focus on the former. But wow, that's so unethical. I went back and deleted it and completely forgot about this whole thing. A paid review for $5 that's not even $5 unless you put it toward buying something from them? 
And, get this: with my "ambassador discount", plus the extra five bucks off, but not plus the extra 10% first-time customer discount because you can't apply that one on top of the ambassador one, I would have finally ended up with an almost normally-priced fucking shirt to use for advertising their super expensive fucking shirts virtually for free
I'm pretty sure tentree "pays" "ambassaors" for positive reviews, too. It would be one thing if these companies, purportedly so concerned with planting trees, donating to marine conservation, or housing and educating developing-world orphans with a portion of the proceeds from every purchase, gave you something for free or for a very low price to start out with, but everything they sell is made to be sold only and exclusively at an "ambassador" discount
30% off a fucking $54 T-shirt is.. how much? I don't know. Still a very overpriced T-shirt. The additional cost of higher-quality and more sustainable materials is one thing, and the additional cost of planting trees or otherwise setting aside a slice of your profit margin for every purchase is another thing, but the very high sale prices all of these companies are made specifically to be reduced through free, independent social media marketing on the part of individuals who want to make money off likes and shares, and then the company still nets a bigger-than-normal profit margin, even with all things considered and all benefit of the doubt given.

It's a pyramid scheme. A greedy fucking tree-planting pyramid scheme. Does tentree really plant ten trees for every purchase? What a crass, soulless venture if not, and what a crass, soulless tactic if so. 

Look at how desperately this chick wants to be validated, for example. She bought a bunch of their stuff and took tons of heavily-edited selfies in it. Yikes.

So, was this third account a failure? No. Not at all! 

I'm very careful and selective about what I tap, like, and follow. With this eco-account, I basically just started out searching for good, thoughtful organisations, businesses, and social movements. It was amazing how much I learned, and how quickly. The infographics! The statistics! The links to articles, and the lifestyle inspiration! 
It sounds lame and cliché, but it was genuinely eye-opening, almost instantaneously. I chose to focus specifically on being a more careful and conscious consumer, about making spending money and doing what's right one in the same, and about learning more about things like ocean plastic and plant species and urban foraging and current environmental legislation being proposed and passed into law, and.. wow. An endless sea of humanity-redeeming content is what I jumped into, like an ice-cold lake that's only startling and new and something you had no idea about for just a few seconds, but when you come up what strikes you is the richness and beauty of your surroundings, and you wonder what the fuck you were apprehensive about and why you didn't do this sooner. And why you don't do this more often, and why you don't realign all of your priorities to shift things like this to the front.

Eco-friendly brand repping is a pyramid scheme for desperate social media-addicted narcissists who want to rationalise or outright fool themselves into thinking they're doing something good for the planet, but #livingwithlesswaste and #noplastic are part of a social movement. A massive, worldwide social movement. Even before I hit that moment of "yep, fuck this completely" with companies like The Great North and tentree, I was steeping neck-deep in a vast online community of people going zero waste, growing their own food, and spending their weekends cleaning up beaches. After weeks of careful deliberating I tossed those laughably overpriced "eco-friendly" accessories aside in a second. I hate shopping and spending money on things! What the fuck? lol. None of that lines up with what I want and what I believe anyway! It's all about #livingwithless and trying to #buyonlywhatyouneed. And anyway, as Hannes said, sigh, there is no quick or easy way to make money online.

Instead of giving my money to the companies masquerading as the good guys, I want to follow, like, and buy from the companies actually being good guys. All of that clever social media marketing stuff can be used effectively by companies that really are dealing in sustainable products and lifestyles.

My current favourite example is truefruits smoothies. First of all, these things are a little pricey at 2.49 normally and 1.99 on sale, which is usually when I snap them up, but they are 100% pure fruit, they show you on the side of the bottle, like a measuring cup, exactly what's in each one, and they're glass with metal lids.

Here are some examples of their genius. First, the limited edition bottles:

Urgh, I love it! I tried both Lemon Cheesecake and Apple Strudel over the winter, but that was before I thought to keep the bottles.

Keep the bottles? What for, as decoration? Well.
Glass is 100% recyclable and so are many common metals, especially aluminum and steel, but have you ever thought about how much stuff you toss into even the recycling bin? The overwhelming majority of plastic will never be recycled. You just shouldn't buy it.
And if you want to shop package-free, in bulk, and have a really nice, clean, simple pantry full of glass containers that you refill that's #aesthetic.. why would you go out and buy them all when you can get them for free at the supermarket? Your applesauce, pickles, and truefruits smoothies all came in glass containers, for starters. Oh, fuck. Lightbulb moment. 

Truefruits knows this, and they know that their bottles are cute. You know what they did? They started selling branded soap dispensers and other things that are specifically made to screw onto the tops of their bottles.

Mind blown. Seriously. What a stroke of genius.

As you might guess about a company this aware, their copy and tags are always really good, too. "Bad" is "bath" or "bathroom" in German, hence the puns. I love it.

But wait, I'm still not done hyping the fuck out of these drinks. You know how Snapple recently switched to plastic bottles, after many years of being that one specific tea drink in a glass bottle? The social media backlash was gigantic, vicious, and extraordinary. People really fucking hate this idea. Many people, if not most people, insist that things taste better when you drink them from glass, for starters. There's a huge global movement to avoid, ban, and stop producing single-use plastics, also. Come on! This is the worst possible moment to switch to plastic! How astonishingly tone-deaf of them!
True fruits clapped back quickly, and hard, taking advantage of that social media backlash that, based on Snapple's Instagram activity and sudden lack thereof for over a week, I feel pretty confident led to at least one major person from the social media marketing department quitting.

I saw this as a giant billboard on a platform at Dammtor station here in Hamburg. 

It made me and another chick do a hard double-take. One of Snapple's main defenses/reasons/scripted marketing lines for their switch was that "glass can break!". I mean, I guess. A lot of things can break if you try to break them. Even if you throw glass it doesn't always break. But so, true fruits is all like: 
Say yes to plastic! Glass can break. Plastic remains in the oceans, and for eternity.

Fucking lol.

Supporting this company doesn't make me any money. It arguably saves me money or at least zeroes out what I spend on their products because I reuse most of the containers, and it gives me a healthy guilt-free drink, snack, or meal substitute. That would be good enough for me even if their marketing people weren't awesome.


Since I started this third account I've made a lot of low-waste and zero-waste swaps, with more in the works. I've switched to powder detergent in a cardboard box, solid hand soap, solid deodorant, and a simple glass water bottle. I've kept track of everything in plastic that I've chosen to put in my handbasket while shopping and felt bad about it, actively avoided the stuff where possible, and lamented the fact that even the bakery bags and rare paper produce bags are lightly coated in and lined with it, as are many cans and even aluminum water bottles. I've found package-free bulk shops throughout Germany and switched to shopping at the main one here for our dry goods like oats, pasta, nuts, seeds, and spices. I've been astonished and impressed by people who have lived plastic-free for years and who spend their weekends plucking trash out of the surf and who manage to maintain entire homesteads. I want to be more like them. I want to be better.

I don't want to be an influencer.

My point with all of this is that social media has become a cornerstone of most of our lives. It's addictive, and most of us are checking our phones constantly. If you think about the kinds of pressures Insta feeds put on you, it's not hard to figure out that most of them are pretty unhealthy, or unabashedly for the sake of profit. You can be social media savvy and on-trend and pop culture literate without buying into all of this shit and without even feeling pressured to do so, though, if you just realise the ways in which this pressure and this targeted content changes the way in which you behave, consume, and spend your leisure time. I'm not saying that I've achieved some kind of social media nirvana in which I've found a brilliant solution to all of this, but I thought about what I wanted and what was most important to me, and unsurprisingly, it wasn't the organic cotton activewear, the Polaberry chocolate, or trying to monetise my views and likes, turning what should be my free time spent enjoying myself into a sad display of how thoroughly indoctrinated into capitalism we all are. 

I want to illustrate professionally. I want to be more prolific in what I create and actually get better at painting and develop as an artist. I created a social media platform that generates some subtle, positive pressure on myself to achieve that as best I can, and gives me an overview of what I've been doing, how much, how often, and how consistently in terms of style. I do my best to connect with other artists on this platform and to be aware of what they and local galleries are up to.

I want to consume more consciously and sustainably, and if I do buy something new, I want it to be from the best and most responsible and helpful possible sources. I want to buy handmade things from women in developing countries who have fled nightmarish domestic violence with nothing but their children and what's left of their dignity in tow. I want to support business ventures that are making fabric out of recycled ghost net nylon. I want a super neat, chic pantry (too bad Europe doesn't have pantries, though.. brb, crying) with rows of glass jars full of things bought in bulk, package-free. So I created a social media platform that's turned into this, too. I want to go to the next Hamburg litter picking meetup group and buy some of those solid bar soaps and things from people here who make them, instead of having them shipped to us.

I think we can turn these negative influences, pressures, and tendencies on their heads and make them work for us. It's not just about finding something to try, see, or do this weekend or on your trip; I think we can do better, guys.