Wouldn’t it be a dream if we all went shopping plastic-free and above all could? Even if you’re determined to do it, it’s not that easy since many stores and products work with tons of plastic. An interesting approach that goes far beyond the reduction of packaging is being pursued by the so-called climatarians.
What is an air conditioner & why do they shop plastic-free?
Vegans do not eat meat or animals in order to make their contribution to improving the climate on our planet. As you probably know, the industrial production of meat and dairy products consumes a lot of resources. But there are also the so-called climatarians, who do not necessarily eat vegan, but who live according to these five basic principles:
1. Eat less (manufactured) meat
2. Buy local and seasonal products
3. Consume products that have a low carbon footprint
4. Reduce packaging of all kinds
5. Avoid food waste
climatarians, like many vegans, adapt their eating habits to the needs of the environment, but without having to forego meat completely, for example. Plastic-free shopping is just as much a part of it as reducing packaging of all kinds and, where possible, doing without packaged goods entirely.
It doesn’t matter whether you are an climatarians yourself or a vegan, each of us can make a contribution to our environment in everyday life. Avoiding plastic as much as possible is a good start. In the following we explain which alternative materials you can use.
Which materials are particularly suitable for plastic-free shopping?
If you want to shop plastic-free, some materials are better suited than others. Here are our recommendations and suggestions:
Lightweight bags and tote bags
Extremely light bags, for example made of jute fabric, are particularly durable and practical. You can fold it up very small and always carry it with you. Of course, the classic cloth bag is always a good and proven choice.
Our beeswax wraps, which you can order in our shop, are ideal for wrapping food. They last up to two years, are naturally manufactured and can even be repaired if they show slight signs of wear.
Longevity is the keyword
Any type of durable storage box will do. Whether it is made of metal, glass or clay is not that important – it has to be durable.
Jute and cotton nets for fruit and vegetables
Cotton or jute fruit and vegetable nets are a good alternative to the usual “shirt bags” found at the vegetable counter in supermarkets. Always have some of them with you and simply place your vegetables and fruit sorted in the nets you brought with you on the belt. Since the nets have practically no dead weight, this is not really noticeable in the price.
Grandma’s wicker basket
Do you remember grandma’s shopping basket made of natural willow? Unfortunately, these are very rarely seen these days, but they are ideal for plastic-free shopping.
By the way: Paper and bio-plastic bags are well intentioned, but not really good alternatives because they cannot be used for long. And if you do get a disposable bag somewhere, at least use it as long as possible. At least it’s not that pointless.
Background on the topic of plastic-free shopping
We don’t just want to give you specific, practical tips, we also want to give you some background information on the topic of “plastic-free shopping”.
How much plastic waste do we produce every year and what happens to it?
The figures on plastic waste are frightening and alarming. We use 29 bags per capita and year and that for just 25 minutes per bag. In the end, that makes around 2.5 billion plastic bags per year, in Germany alone.
The total amount of plastic waste has more than doubled in the past 25 years to almost 7 million tons per year. (Source: BUND) Only 20% of plastic waste is currently reused. The rest is in landfills and polluting our seas.
Speaking of plastic waste in the oceans: According to the WWF, a truckload of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every minute. That adds up to over 10 million tons every year.
What is Zero Waste?
Evolution is something completely normal in nature and, above all, very important, under the motto: only those who adapt perfectly survive. Zero waste is, so to speak, the evolutionary further development of various older environmental concepts. Fifty years ago, nobody cared about the topic “Waste and the environment!”, then gradually recycling became the No. 1 topic.
For several years it has been upcycling – i.e. reusing products in a different context. Example: Furniture was made from old cans or lamps were made from plastic bottles. Now the next stage of evolution has been initiated: Zero Waste.
Zero waste is about not creating any waste that needs to be recycled or upcycled in the first place. …that we didn’t think of it earlier! The cornerstones of Zero Waste are also referred to as the five R’s:
- Refuse (reject): Reject packaging in the shop
- Reduce: Curb excess possession
- Reuse (reuse, repair): Use products of any kind several times
- Recycle: return what works to the cycle
- Red (compost): Dispose of as much as possible on the compost
Of course, this is a very bold goal and at the moment we can only start producing less waste here and there. But as with so many things in life: if you don’t set yourself any goals, you don’t know where to go. We can highly recommend an article by the Zukunftsinstitut on the subject of zero waste.
What approaches and solutions are there now that give you courage?
A lot has happened in recent years, especially when it comes to “plastic-free shopping”. More and more shops and concepts enable (almost) packaging-free or at least reduced shopping. Among them are some who even go one step further and only offer regional and/or organic products. A paradise, not only for climatarians.
Many wholesalers (suppliers to the catering trade) already supply their customers exclusively in reusable packaging. A modular smartphone is also currently being developed in which individual components can be easily replaced in the event of a defect without having to dispose of the entire cell phone. Many other actions, initiatives, ideas and projects will drastically reduce the amount of waste over the next few years. The EU has already banned straws and other plastic items in 2021, the Federal Ministry for the Environment has announced tightening of the packaging law, many cities (including Kiel and Cologne) want to become zero-waste cities and the Berlin initiative “Everything in the River” is fighting for waste-free waterways. The Federal Ministry for the Environment also gives many tips on avoiding plastic waste. In any case, the fight against waste waste is on and fighting is taking place on many fronts.
What could the plastic-free world of tomorrow look like?
There are some very encouraging examples. An American sandwich chain has managed to reduce its waste to 30 liters a year. That’s how much is produced in a classic fast-food restaurant per hour. Some families are also demonstrating how to produce only the amount of garbage that fits in a mason jar in one year. Unpackaged shops are also springing up like mushrooms and will revolutionize the market in the long term.
We could certainly live and shop almost plastic-free in the future and reuse everything as far as possible. What would be desirable would be an altogether reduced way of life, in which one discards superfluous ballast (not throws it away!), as shown by used goods and exchange markets and repair cafés. This is where people with defective objects and devices meet and help each other to repair them. Wonderful prospects! …don’t you agree?
What does the new UN plastic agreement say?
At the beginning of March 2022, the member states of the UN (i.e. the United Nations) adopted a joint strategy to avoid plastic waste. By 2024, this is now to be converted into a legally binding agreement.
It is about questioning the entire life cycle of plastic and reducing plastic waste – from production to use to disposal – and setting maximum limits in each case.
Drinking tap water is completely packaging-free
The tap water quality in Germany is excellent. The Federal Environment Agency says: “Drinking water is one of the best controlled foods in Germany. Drinking tap water produces less than one percent of the environmental impact of bottled water.” If you drink tap water, you really create zero waste and lugging water bottles is also a thing of the past.
Tips for finding packaging-friendly stores
There are more and more shops that enable packaging-friendly shopping. This includes both physical stores and online retailers. The best thing to do is to google the shops and opportunities in your city and make your contribution to a plastic-free world. We, your current fellow human beings, future generations and the planet will thank you.
In our online shop you will surely find some interesting products that can also help you to live with less packaging and to shop plastic-free, such as our beeswax towels, lunch bags and small cloth bags. Take a look around and discover our plastic-free packaging alternatives !