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!
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...
So finally, I have one part of my life entirely plastic-free, and that is my daily washing routine. Apart from the food and drink I am putting into my body, I think for me, this is probably one of the things I want the most to be plastic-free, since I am putting this stuff on my skin every day.
What’s more, I think having a plastic-free bathroom is one of the easiest things to achieve (even if it took me the better part of a year…). The methods I have switched to are simple, and a lot of the products are readily available from stores around Europe, or online. Though some options can be a bit on the expensive side, I think overall I spend much less now on washing products than I did before.
And, of course, the reduction in plastic-consumption is enormous! Think about all of those plastic bottles you have lined up on your bathroom shelf: shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, razor creams, aftershaves, mouthwash, toothpaste… and often there will be multiple types of each. I came to think, what’s the point? It’s the constant adverts on TV and billboards telling us we need hundreds of different products for our faces, body, feet, hair to be beautiful and attractive, when actually what all I really care about is being healthy and well… clean. So, I decided to stop using plastic in the bathroom, and looked for simple, general-use alternatives.
Before: shower gels
Now: bar soap
This weekend I went home to visit my parents in England, and found myself watching “Kevin McCloud’s Escape to the Wild” on Channel 4 (good old English TV!). This week focused on a family that had moved to Tonga. The family, consisting of Boris and Karyn and their three children moved the South Pacific island in 2007 with five suitcases, where they camped for about a year in the forest whilst they built a log cabin to live in.
.Now they have a beautiful house built entirely from natural resources from the island, along with imported cement. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large living area with a sea view. The family aim to live entirely sustainably: they get electricity and warmth from solar panels and a wind turbine, and running clean water from collecting rain water in big tanks. They even have a bunker at the back of the house for protection from hurricanes and tsunamis.
Taking on a new lifestyle can be scary if you don’t know very much about it, so I thought I would tell you a typical day for me here in Konstanz. Of course this will not represent a lot of people’s lives, but what I hope to do is point out little ideas of where I have cut out plastic or waste that you may otherwise not think about.
In the morning, I wake up and have a quick shower. I use soaps that I can buy without any packaging, normally from organic shops. If I am washing my hair, I use a bar shampoo that comes with no packaging at all (bought from Lush), and if I need to shave, I use a metal razor with a razor blade (normally used for men’s faces, but it works so well!). Normally I try not to do both in one shower to avoid wasting water. I brush my teeth with a bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste tablets that come in cardboard packaging (that I also bought from Lush).
For work I can dress however I want as long as I have covered toes; a luxury of being a scientist! At least a third of my wardrobe consists of hand-me-down clothes from siblings and my other clothes are mostly a couple years old. I have tried to avoid buying new clothes for a while now, and when I do, only if I have something I should get rid of (by donating it to charity). As for make-up, I am currently using well-known brands with plastic packaging. This is the next part of my lifestyle I want to change. I am looking into making my own products as well as organic cosmetics in glass bottles.
Christmas- it’s the most wonderful time of the year! I get to see my family, all of the Christmas lights are turned on and the silly decorations are out, and I eat way too much food… We overindulge, in all aspects…
And one of these aspects also includes our rubbish production. Over Christmas holidays, so much waste is produced from wrapping paper, festive food and drink packaging, excessive shopping bags and eating out at Christmas markets, as well as many other things. This is awful and unnecessary, as there are many ways to keep your waste level down over the festive period. Here are a few rules that I shall be following this December, but can also be used all year round!
I decided to start my plastic-free lifestyle when I moved to Germany this October. This was a big step in my career and I felt it was also time to make that big change in my lifestyle. Turns out, this was actually a very useful point in my life to do this, because nothing makes you divide your values for material objects like packing your life into two suitcases!
Doing this really made me think about what was important to me. Part of being plastic-free is learning to declutter, and reduce your desire for objects that, most of the time, we do not need in our lives. And so I took this as an opportunity not only to pack but to clear out my old stuff. I threw out years of hoarded rubbish, gave away clothes and shoes that were too small, and in general decluttered my home as much as possible. Needless to say, most of my valued possessions had very little plastic on them!