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September 23, 2017

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German woman's yearlong adventure without money

LEIPZIG, Germany -- For one year, Greta Taubert renounced our consumer society. Eating, drinking and dressing without spending a cent, the 30-year-old German woman wanted to see what life would be like if the economic system collapsed.

The first thing she badly wanted after her 12 months of consumer abstinence? "Tights," she replied spontaneously, nursing a cappuccino in a cafe in Leipzig, a city in what used to be East Germany.

"And toiletries," she added quickly, pushing aside a strand of her long blonde hair.

Gone now are the homemade deodorants, face creams and toothpastes, all guaranteed 100 percent organic.

"I even made my own shampoo," she said. "But I started to look like a Neanderthal. My friends told me, 'Now you're going too far,'" she laughed.

For an entire year Taubert, a freelance journalist, swapped skirts and trousers at second-hand clothes exchanges and tilled the soil to grow cabbage and potatoes in a community garden.

For a holiday, she hitchhiked some 1,700 kilometers to take time out in Barcelona, albeit in a squat.

Having endured the extreme experience, she wrote a book, "Apokalypse Jetzt!" — German for "Apocalypse Now," the title of Francis Ford Coppola's epic 1979 Vietnam war movie — which came out in February.

In the book, she recounts her life far from the clothes racks of H&M, the cardboard boxes of discount supermarket chains, and from the considerable waste of modern consumer society.

'More, more, more mantra'

The eco-minimalist adventure began one Sunday afternoon at her grandmother's house, where she contemplated a table laden with ham and cheese canapes, apple pie, cheesecake, cream pie, vanilla biscuits and coffee — just a couple of hours after a hearty lunch.

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