INTERVIEW | 08/02/2022

Harald Rettich Doesn't Buy New Clothes - Only Underpants

5 Questions - 5 Answers
Uschi Horner

Harald Rettich's life revolves around the topic of sustainability. Not only professionally, but also in his private life. Since January 2020, the 53-year-old has headed the Corporate Partnerships team at myclimate Germany. Outside of work, he also thinks hard about how he can live in a more climate-friendly way. Buys second-hand clothes, except for underpants, and generally has a challenge going: don't buy anything new. The only thing he has to compromise on is his favorite hobby, running. And maybe also flying again. A look behind the scenes.

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1. What was your greatest victory and what your greatest defeat?

I'm actually a bit proud of the fact that I'm always able to question myself and change my life completely. And I've also done that with regard to the issue of climate change. I wasn't always on a sustainable path, yet I changed that pretty consistently, not 100 percent successfully, but to a great extent. My life is generally characterized by new beginnings. I used to be a landscape gardener, and I already regret that I couldn't continue doing it. It was my dream job back then, and I see it in a similar way today. If I were doing this now, I would be very happy with it, but life has turned out differently...

That also applies to my next big goal: I'm running my first marathon - on my fourth attempt. For three years I have always had bad luck. So I was always well prepared and always got something wrong beforehand. Last year I had a cycling accident just a week before the race, broke my shoulder and bruised my hip. I thought I could do it, but I couldn't. That's why I say I'm happy to be there, if I'm there at the start. That's totally enough for me. And of course finishing. But even that is still a long way off.

2. Let's move on to happiness and business. How do they fit together for you?

That sounds almost too platitudinous, but if you follow your calling, you're automatically happier. That's why happiness for me has a lot to do with business. When I do something in my job that I feel called to do, it takes up so much space and gives you such a good feeling that business contributes a lot to happiness. I haven't just felt that way for the last three years. All my life I've changed jobs, I've mastered different challenges, and I've almost always followed my convictions.

3. You don't buy new clothes anymore - except for underpants. Is that right?

So my challenge is always: not to buy anything new, because everything already exists. And with every purchase I think about whether it hasn't already been produced for someone else, so that it doesn't have to be produced especially for me. I manage to do that almost 100 percent of the time - except for sportswear. But for normal clothing there are super portals where I buy my things second hand.

4. What else are you doing to combat climate change and what is your luxury trap?

I haven't driven a car in three years, I've changed my diet and, as I mentioned, I've completely changed my consumer behavior. It's incredibly important to me that we simply think about how I can organize my life differently. But I'm not going about it with religious zeal. For me, it's about consuming consciously. Asking yourself: Is this better? Do I absolutely have to have this now? And then what? Then a whole new quality opens up. And that's what I mean. It's not just renunciation, it's simply thinking differently. And suddenly you have a different impression of life and there is a lot of beauty in it. Nevertheless, I will certainly get on a plane again sometime. I haven't flown in a long time, but it will happen someday. There are destinations in the world that I might want to visit. I'm sure I'll need a plane there. And that will be pure CO₂ impact. But otherwise, I can't blame myself much.

5. Hand over the baton: What would you like to pass on to future generations not yet born?

Take life as a gift and live consciously. That is the greatest maxim, which I was not even aware of for a long time. But be conscious and accept life as a gift.

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Uschi Horner