I don’t quite remember how it started, actually. There was one day when the ziplock bags and the cling film standing in the drawer simply became offensive to me. I started to re-use and then re-re-use that one ziplock bag and to cover plates of leftovers with upended dishes in the fridge.

It began to become more real when the idea of ordering take-out sushi with the promise of black plastic trays covered by clear plastic lids became unbearable. We called the sushi restaurant and asked if we could bring our own tupperware. We didn’t need the packets of soy sauce either as we had a glass bottle of organic tamari at home. Sure, the people working there thought it was weird, but they were nice about it, so we did it again and we continue to do it.

“Maki Sushi”, photograph courtesy of Su-Lin.

These days we bring our reusable coffee cups with us when we go out and if we forget them, we get coffee in ceramic mugs to stay. If we don’t have time to sit down and drink our coffee in the café and are without our reusable cups, then we don’t drink coffee period. The same principle applies to getting food to-go. No tupperware on our person means eating to-stay, or not eating at all. (That policy is an effective incentive to carry reusable containers on your person!)

Now we bring cotton bulk bags, glass jars, and/or tupperware with us for food related purchases. We bring tupperware to the butcher and if the company’s hygiene policy requires that the meat be wrapped in plastic in order to be sold, then we buy it from companies that will either fill our reusable containers, or wrap it in wax paper, or butcher paper. The same goes for buying cheese at the dairy counter, or fish from the farmers market. We buy dried goods like legumes, grains and spices, as well as cleaning supplies in bulk, filling our own re-useable containers. It’s remarkably straightforward once you begin to reform your shopping habits. Of course, reprogramming and rethinking these habitual behaviours takes effort, practice and time.

Bulk cleaning supplies at Stückgut in Hamburg, Germany.
Bulk cleaning supplies at Stückgut in Hamburg, Germany.
Bulk shower gel, shamoo and conditioner at Stückgut in Hamburg, Germany.
Bulk shower gel, shampoo and conditioner at Stückgut in Hamburg, Germany.

Overall, package-free grocery shopping should be straightforward. Here is a little zero waste shopping guide that describes the way that I approach shopping here in Germany:

zerowasteXchange Shopping Guide
zerowasteXchange Shopping Guide

Wherever you find yourself in your personal zero waste journey, I wish you all the best. It is an exciting and meaningful process of lifestyle-simplification and personal discovery!

Happy zero wasting and bon voyage!



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