I am extremely excited to announce that Konstanz finally has its first plastic-free store!
On June 14th, Unverpackt Konstanz made its grand opening, and for me it was a dream come true. I have been working with Sladja and Michael over the last half year as they busied away to set up their beautiful shop, and it is amazing to see all of their hard work come to fruit.
Unverpackt Konstanz is based at Fürstenbergstraße 93, an easy 15 minute bike or bus ride from the Konstanz Altstadt. Sladja has created a small, cosy shop that lives and breathes its motto: “back to nature”: wooden and glass dispensers, beautiful hand-me-down furniture, and shelves full of unpackaged food, toiletries and household necessities. It covers almost everything I need on a day to day basis.
What can I buy there?
As with Unverpackts all over the world, Unverpackt Konstanz stocks mainly dried foods. This includes different kinds of lentils, beans, rice and seeds, which are presented in dispensers along the walls. In addition you can also find jars full of unpackaged dried fruits, chocolate, gummi bears and coffee.
However there is more than just food. Unverpackt Konstanz also stocks deodorants, soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes and even toilet paper for all of your hygiene needs! And for the household, you can buy liquid soap, house cleaner, washing powder and detergent and dishwashing liquid. You really can find all of your everyday needs there!
Of course, the shop has been open for less than a month, so it is still expanding its range of products. For example, they do not supply any bakery products or fresh produce, as they are first stocking the basics before expanding. Nevertheless, I am so pleased how far Sladja and Michael have progressed already, and I am so excited to watch how Unverpackt Konstanz blossoms over time.
How does it work?
In my previous blog post I explained how to shop at other packaging-free shops in Germany, and the same logic applies here! You bring your own jars and bags and weigh them instore. Once you have written down their weights on the paper provided, fill up your containers to your heart’s content! Once you have everything you need, take your goods to the desk along with the noted weights, and the cashier will deduct the weight of your container from the overall weight, so you only pay for the food inside. Remember that you cannot mix your products in the same container as they each have their own price per gram!
A lovely bonus in Unverpackt Konstanz is that they also sell their own mason jars and bottles, as well as little cloth bags if you want to buy a small quantity of something but don’t have a spare jar. What’s more, they also have a “borrow a jar” service, where you can use spare jars provided by the store if you don’t have enough, and bring them back the next time you are visiting.
But don’t just take my word for it! Last May, Sladja was featured in Bodensee magazine Akzent and in the Südkurier this July, both publicisng the opening of Unverpackt Konstanz and the plastic-free story behind it all. Living zero waste is becoming more mainstream and “on trend”, which is fantastic for spreading our message to a greater audience!
A new member of the Unverpackt family.
Unverpackts are popping up all over Germany, with shops found in Mainz, Karlsruhe, Berlin and beyond. Konstanz is a small holiday and university town, so it is great to see an Unverpackt finally open here, as it shows that people in all sorts of countries, districts and cities want to embrace a zero waste lifestyle and start changing the way they live to reduce their negative impact on the environment. A small locally owned plastic-free shop may not seem like very much, but in reality it makes a huge difference: it is a symbol demonstrating against conventional packaged goods, promoting a healthy and environmentally friendly way of life and supporting the ever-growing zero waste global community. So danke schön to Sladja and Michael for all your hard work!
The world of zero waste can be a challenging but extremely rewarding lifestyle. Every decision, choice and action you make has a meaning and a responsibility. But it has opened me up to a range of other green lifestyles that I never quite appreciated before, for example, buying seasonal and organic produce, supporting local businesses, and eating plant-based and avoiding animal products. For me, all of these different concepts are important, and I am slowly trying to work them all into my life, in particular, eating plant-based.
Living plant-based and plastic-free can get quite tricky, and one of the most common questions I get is:
"How do you get enough protein?"
In fact my mother checks that I am eating enough every weekend call I get!
Since I am someone who spends every morning before work lifting weights in the gym, my protein intake is also of considerable importance to me too. And although It took me a few months to work out a plan, I now have a list of plastic-free protein sources that are available in Konstanz and probably most cities.
Living waste-free is can be a difficult when you are just starting out, so it definitely helps when you have support from a like-minded community. If you live in a bigger town or a city, you may be lucky enough to find a packaging-free store. These are revolutionary shops that sell a diverse range of food products and other household goods, but without any of the conventional packaging. Instead, you can buy reusable containers to fill, or you can just bring your own!
How does a packaging-free store work?
Doing your weekly shopping in a packaging-free store is a bit less simple than the standard shop, but I also find it much more fun! What’s more, in the shops that I have visited, the attendants are always friendly and very happy to help you.
The motions are pretty much the same in every store you visit. If you are buying containers, they probably have a set weight that is already logged in the cashier’s system, so you can just fill them up directly. But if you are bringing your own jars, here is what to do:
Plastic is all around us. It covers everything we buy, we eat and drink from it, we eat it in general, we wear it, we build with it, we drive with it… we seem never to stop using it. A lot of the plastic in our lifestyles can be cut out by just being vigilant, however it seems that plastic has edged its way into all corners of life, even some we don’t know about. Here are a few common things that may seem “plastic-free”, but are actually laden with plastic, which will often end up in landfill and the oceans.
1. Coffee cups
People always say to me, disposable coffee cups are recyclable! They are made of paper, duh...
Going waste-free is an incredible way to reduce your negative impact on the planet. You are caring for the Earth, for ocean life, and reducing your exposure to harmful toxins. However there are many other ways you can also benefit the environment. One of these is going vegetarian or vegan, and these are things I struggle with immensely.
As a family we have always eaten meat (except on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because yay Indian culture), however two years ago, my twin sister became vegetarian, and regularly cooks vegan dishes (you can check out some of her amazing dishes here). I found this utterly inspiring, and always wished I could do make that change too.
And to be honest, there is nothing really stopping me, just my own desire. Of course it isn’t so easy to cut out something you have always eaten, especially in a world obsessed with meat consumption. What’s more, I love body-building and sports, so I need to eat a lot of protein (I aim for approximately 60g a day), which is not so simple with a vegetarian lifestyle. Finally, since I went plastic-free, finding food I enjoyed eating was already difficult, never mind embracing a whole new diet. Of course, my meat was already reduced since I no longer bought packaged meat in the supermarket, but this still seemed impossible.
However, last week we both went to Philadelphia, where I was introduced to the fantastic meat-substitute: seitan.
So this is going to be a very short post about one of the most essential pieces of equipment for a waste-free life: mason jars.
I first came across using mason jars from Lauren Singer, the woman who created Trash is for Tossers and has been living a zero waste lifestyle for the past two years. At first I thought, “oh that’s quirky and kinda cool”, but not much more than that. It was just another one of those trends which everyone was jumping on along with serving cocktails in jam jars and using biscuit jars for lampshades… It was only when I started using them that I realised how incredibly versatile they are! I now use them for almost everything, from storing all sorts of food (cooked meals and leftovers, dried beans or rice, flour and sugar), to keeping body lotions and toothpastes in to carrying them to work every day with my lunch in.