Almost five million tons of plastic waste are generated in Germany every year. A big factor: food packaging. There are alternatives!

The discussion about large amounts of garbage that arise with every purchase is not new. It revolves around cucumbers wrapped in plastic or thin foils found between slices of cheese. It goes without saying that the cheese is of course already sealed in plastic. As a result, purchases in conventional supermarkets are often anything but sustainable. 

In May 2018, activists in several cities in Europe, including Berlin, set an example against plastic packaging in the supermarket – with so-called “plastic attacks”. They filled bought groceries directly in the market in cloth bags and storage jars and left behind the packaging waste that supermarkets have to take back (to a certain extent). 

The campaign has actually attracted attention, but politicians and supermarkets have to address the problem in order to quickly improve the situation. In the beginning, this has already happened: plastic bags, for example, have not been free for a long time. Rewe and Penny have also carried out initial tests to label fruits and vegetables via laser engraving in the future and no longer to package them.

What to do about the mass of packaging waste?

If you want to take out the garbage less often and thus protect the environment at the same time, you can make sure to buy food in the supermarket with as little packaging as possible. Anyone who tries this seriously will notice that it is easier said than done.


A real alternative are so-called packaging-free supermarkets. Here you can bring your jars with screw caps, fabric bags and Co. from home and pour oatmeal, sweets and milk. Such markets now exist in most major cities. 

In Bonn, the head chef’s headquarters, there is free food deinet, for example. These explain  further advantages of a packaging-free food market on their website , which may not be immediately clear to everyone: 

  • Shop consciously: You can freely determine the quantities purchased. This helps to avoid unnecessary residues when cooking.
  • Let yourself be inspired : Without packaging, you can better look at, feel and smell food when you buy it. 
  • Regional products:  Packaging-free grocery stores (as in the case of free food deinet) often rely on regional and organic food. 

If you just want to try out packaging-free shopping, but don’t have enough containers for decanting, you can usually borrow them directly from the store. As with bottles, you pay a deposit, which you will receive when you return it. The hurdle is negligible to get involved in the environmentally conscious trend. 


Next step “zero waste” ?! 

Shopping in packaging-free supermarkets is just one of many ways to limit personal waste production. In the meantime, a trend – or rather a movement – with the name “Zero Waste” has developed. You can imagine what it’s all about: producing as little garbage as possible – and in all situations.

Above all, this requires one thing: commitment. In many situations, garbage can be avoided by just taking the time to think about it briefly. It starts with not having a receipt printed out or using your own reusable cup instead of to-go cups for coffee. Insights into the movement can easily be found in numerous places on the Internet. On blogs and video platforms such as YouTube you can, for example, get helpful tips on how to avoid unnecessary garbage in everyday life with little effort.

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