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!
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:
And what a journey it has been!
One year ago today (approximately) I posted my opening blog on No Waste Bee, where I announced that I would embark on the journey to a waste-free life, by cutting down on the plastic I use. Over this year, I have made both big and small changes to my lifestyle to embrace a more planet-friendly way of living, and have posted my developments every few weeks or so on here.
A lot of my learning has been trial and error, fitting around a very busy work life, and struggling to find a balance with optimising my health or personal preferences in this not-so-easy regime. But a year is a long time, and I definitely have learnt a lot about myself (and my rubbish…) during this period.
So... what have I learnt?
Here are what I think are the five most important things I have realised this year of living plastic-free:
We are over halfway through Plastic-Free July. Think of all the plastic you haven’t used which is not ending up in the oceans! However the fight against waste pollution isn’t over yet, and there are always more things you can do to try and reduce the effects of plastic around the world.
So, what can you do this July to help cut down plastic consumption?
1. Take the Plastic-free July challenge… duh!
Join me and many across the globe who are cutting down their plastic waste for the whole of July. The aim of this challenge is to stop using “one-use plastic” objects, for example: food packaging, water bottles, plastic bags, cellophane wrapping… the list goes on! Instead look for alternatives, or even better, cut out the unnecessary waste completely. Change what you buy, try things you may not have considered before, and see how much waste you can reduce. What’s more, for the plastic waste you do end up using, don’t throw it away! Many people do not realise how much rubbish they produce because they never actually see it- the plastic just gets chucked in the bin. If you keep the waste you produce this month, you can see how much you produce and identify what changes you need to make to reduce it!
July for many is the month of holidays. But in Australia, it is also the environmentally-conscious month of Plastic Free July. Organised by the PFJ group based in Western Australia, the movement encourages people across the country to stop using single-use plastic items for a month, and see how much of their plastic waste they can cut out.
This is an excellent campaign that gets normal people who may not take note of their rubbish to think about the effects that they are having on their environments. Individuals, schools, companies and corporations can sign up and participate, going plastic-free for a day, week, month or even longer if desired! The plastic rubbish you do produce is not thrown away but collected in a “dilemma box”, and at the end of the month can be assessed as to how necessary it was and how it could be avoided. If you need any tips, they have a great toolbox of ideas on their website!
So why should you take part? Because according to their website, all the plastic that has ever been produced in this world is still here, as it doesn’t biodegrade for hundreds of years. Tonnes of plastic is dumped across the world in landfills and oceans, yet governments and manufacturers tend to turn a blind eye, because they don’t want the responsibility of cleaning it up or changing how their products are packaged or made. So we, the public, need to demonstrate that we do not want to have our products covered in plastic, and that we shall not support businesses or corporations that are not actively making their products greener and packaging-free. By joining the hundreds of other people who participating in Plastic Free July, you can not only reduce your plastic impact on the environment, educate others about the problem, encourage others to join in with you, and make a stand for a plastic-free world.
To register for Plastic Free July, go to their website: http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/register.html
And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for plastic-reducing tips throughout the month! https://www.facebook.com/nowastebee
At the beginning of this year, shockwaves spread across the public with the news that by 2050, there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans. To someone like me who is very conscious about the waste I am producing, this was hardly surprising, though still incredibly depressing. However what was more unexpected was how everyone else reacted to it, amazed that there was even a plastic problem in the first place. Not enough people are aware of the fact that we are drowning in plastic, and choose to ignore the signs, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that have shown us for years we are choking the oceans. And if the oceans are ruined, that means huge swathes of ecosystems will be destroyed,containing all of our fish and seafood, essential energy producers in food chains, and kelps and seagrasses that act as natural erosion barriers, to name a few.
So are we as a species doomed because of this unhealthy plastic addiction? Or are we able to change our ways, and find some way to clean up our beautiful seas?
The Seabin Project aims to do exactly that. Founded by Andrew Turton and Peter Ceglinski, the Seabin Project produces rubbish bins that can be hung in the water and suck in any plastic, paper, oils, detergents and other general debris in the surrounding ocean. They use an electric pump which attracts all of the rubbish, and filter it out, returning the clean water to the sea. Even when the bags are full, they can still attract rubbish, drawing it in to float around the Seabin.
Periods, it’s all part of growing up for a girl. Every month it’s the same: stomach cramps, acne, bloating, excessive munchies… all accompanied by the fact that you are bleeding out from between your legs continuously for a week. And the worst thing is that the options for dealing with your period are not very earth-friendly or body-friendly. Both (non-reusable) pads and tampons are one-time-only use, creating a bagful of waste every month. What’s more, both of these can expose women to the risks of thrush infection or of toxic shock syndrome. And sanitary products are not cheap! Tampons are still considered a “non-essential” “luxury item” in the UK, making them subject to VAT. So half of Britain is being taxed for the fact that they are born as a woman… (The sexism never seems to end.)
So I decided to search for a waste-free, non-harmful solution to periods. What I discovered through recommendations of friends was the reusable, silicon menstrual cup. These have actually been around since the sixties but have only recently become on trend, with the first silicon “Mooncup” manufactured in the UK. Since then, there are many brands that have surfaced, all of which have their own perks and styles. From all of these, I decided to use the Ruby Cup (which you can buy here: www.ruby-cup.com).