Sure, if you and I give up plastics, all the plastic waste in the world won't disappear right away. There's still... poor recycling systemsThere is too little education about plastic waste in developing countries, illegal landfills and too much plastic in the system. (The frightening Consequences for our planet we already know...) But should we still continue to waste plastic as we have done up to now and wait until politics and industry have made the urgent decisions to reduce plastic waste?
We think: Nope! Questioning one's own handling of plastics is the first step towards a plastic-free future. Even if you may think that you cannot change anything as an individual, the more people demand plastic-free alternatives, the more attractive it becomes for retailers and consumers to change their packaging and the faster the change to a world with less plastic will be in the end. The good thing is: it's even fun to challenge yourself a bit when it comes to plastic packaging & co. Especially because the plastic alternatives usually look much better and last longer.
So here we go with tips for the beginners in avoiding plastic. We've linked our favourite companies and green start-ups so you can try out the first things right away:
- Jute is the new plastic! If you bags, Bag and Cans to go shopping, you can do without several plastic bags and packaging. Fruit and vegetables, sausage or cheese are also available unpackaged in many supermarkets and organic food stores and can then be stored in the tins and Bags land.
- Reusable instead of disposable. Through reusable coffee cups made of Bamboo or Rice husks mountains of garbage from common cardboard and plastic cups can really be prevented: 320,000 coffee cups land in the garbage nationwide per hour (!!) according to the German Environmental Aid. In many cafés, refectories, bakeries and at some train stations you can even get a small discount if you come by with your own cup. And if you have forgotten it, the deposit cups from recup a great alternative, which are now also available in many shops.
- PET adé! Instead of buying juice or water in plastic bottles or tetrapacks, you can fall back on glass bottles. And so that you don't have to take the PET bottle to the kiosk when you're on the road, there are now some really good alternatives Glass or Stainless steelthat you can just fill up at the tap. This way you never have to clean and recycle a bottle. And don't worry: in Germany there are regular drinking water checks to ensure that no harmful substances are contained in the water. Another plus point: When you have a nice bottle it's much more fun to drink enough every day.
- Drinks without plastic. Plastic drinking straws are unlikely to be available in the EU from 2021 anyway, when the ban on plastic comes into force. Instead, you can make your drink with a straw from Glassstainless steel or compostable material slurp.
- Glass instead of canned food. Things like applesauce, preserved fruit or pre-cooked chickpeas are already filled into a container. But you can also use the alternative in a jar instead of preserves.
And now for the advanced:
- Try it unwrapped! At the weekly market, in organic and unpacked shops most things are unpacked. There you can simply fill as much as you need into the jar you brought with you. So you don't have to buy more than you actually need, just because the size of the packaging determines the quantity. Extra plus: You can often get food from your region at the weekly market and get to know the producers and ask questions! If that is nothing! 🙂
- Freshness without aluminium. Beeswax cloths are a super alternative to keep food fresh for a long time - without aluminium or cling film. And sometimes it may be enough to simply place a plate on the salad bowl.
- From old to new. Plastic that has already ended up in your apartment can be reused frequently. An empty shampoo bottle, for example, can either be refilled with new shampoo in the unpackaged shop or filled at home with your homemade shampoo. The plastic tin from yesterday's ice cream can be used today as a lunch box or as a storage box for small items.
- What do you really need? This probably sounds rather unsexy and elaborate now, but in the end it saves you a lot of time and energy: your shopping list. At the end of the week, you can simply sit down and think about what you want to cook next week and where to buy it - and where you can get it without packaging. Then you only go shopping once and the rest of the week you can relax and use what you have at home.
- Tabs instead of tube and bamboo in a cup. Helping you brush your teeth Toothbrush tabs just as good as regular toothpaste. What's more, they are packed in a simple paper bag - so there's no need for any plastic. And there is also a Bamboo toothbrush. You can dispose of them almost completely (except for the brush head) in organic waste. Bamboo not only grows back very quickly, it is also a natural material that decomposes after a while without leaving any residue in the compost.
- Soap like Grandma's. Instead of the liquid soap from the plastic pump dispenser you can, like grandma, put a piece of soap on the edge of the sink. Unlike liquid soap, this is usually only wrapped in paper. (You can order your soap for example at our friends from hello simple or here)For washing your hair you can use solid or homemade shampoo. There are now so many different ways to get by without shampoo bottles: Hair soap, shampoo bars, homemade shampoo with baking soda, rye flour or healing earth etc. There is definitely something for every hair type and every hair washing routine.
- It's salvageable. If something in your life breaks, be it your bike, dishwasher or mobile phone display, you don't have to throw it away right away! Many things can be easily repaired and/or the broken part replaced with a spare part. Just ask the internet, your friends or an expert near you. In some cities there are already so-called repair cafés where you can repair what is broken while having a coffee with the staff there. So you are not alone with a piece of technology that you might not understand and you can even learn something new.
- Second Hand has style! And it is also incredibly environmentally friendly! Almost everything you get new, you can also buy used, no matter if it is technology, kitchen appliances or clothes. And if you no longer need something, you can pass it on instead of throwing it away. The possibilities are huge: you can go to the flea market, browse and sell in second-hand and second-hand shops or on various platforms on the Internet.
- And if you crunch then we recommend nucao and nupro! 🙂
So let's go to a life with less plastic! How far have you gotten in reducing your plastic consumption? Do you have any tips for us? We are curious to hear about your zero waste hacks - just put them in the comments below!
By the way, you can find much more information about plastics in the Plastic atlas of the Heinrich Böll Foundation read up.