Sustainability Days: Green shopping in the green city

From the 1. until the 4. of June took place the official Sustainability Days in Baden-Württemberg. With the event the state tries not only to attract awareness to the global environmental problems and subjects, but to show how single individuals with their commitment can become part of the change. Since we can’t all have great ideas (and we don’t need to), we can at least try to be more conscious about our daily life and especially about what we buy. So here is how to shop green in the green Freiburg.

„Be the change you want to see in the world“ – if this famous quote belongs to Gandhi or not, we can’t know for sure. What we do know is that is very much true and represents better than ever our omnipresent reality. We live in the time of the big climate changes and this time calls for desperate measures. Even if a single man can’t suddenly stop the global warming he can at least be more aware of his own existence on the planet and what is he leaving behind. The Sustainability Days are a good reason to think about what we can do to help and become more active, but there are some other things in our everyday life we can change or at least start changing. Like shopping. Food, clothes, cosmetics – these are the essentials we need on a daily basis and the things that we spent most of our money on. Also these are the things that cost a lot of energy, hard, but bad payed work, plastic and pollutions. SO, if we can maybe start thinking more about WHERE our products come from and WHAT we actually buy, we can live a little bit more consciously.

Green Freiburg – good place to start.

Compared to other cities in Germany Freiburg is often labeled as the greenest place. And by green I don’t only mean the lots of trees and great nature, but also green in a way of living – bio shops, farmer markets, a loooot of bicycles. Still, there is room for improvement even here and room for more ideas and actions. In this article I will make a list of all the things I think about when going shopping and how I try to shop more consciously here in the greenest city by just not buying blind everything I see.

Freiburg is one of the green places to be.

Grocery shopping – plastic free and fresh.

Where do we do the most of our groceries? That’s right, in the supermarket. The one thing that we often forget when we shop is that almost everything is wrapped in plastic. Even if in Germany there is a strong policy about recycling, a huge amount of all the plastic garbage can’t be recycled as plastic, because not only plastic packages get thrown away in the yellow bin. But here is how you can buy some things (most of it actually) plastic free.

  • Milk, cheese and yogurt. Most of the dairy products often come in a plastic package. What you can do is just buy the alternatives in a glas. It’s a bit heavier, but it looks better and the glas can be reused or recycled. For the cheese for example you can always bring your own tupperbox and get it filled at the counter. *Another things you can buy from the counter in a tupperbox are olives, olive paste, cream cheese, antipasti.

*Another things you can buy from the counter in a tupperbox are olives, olive paste, cream cheese, antipasti.

*If you like to order food to take away, just bring your tupperbox to the place and they will fill it up!

You can still order food to take away – just bring your own tupperbox.
  • Fruits and vegetables. For most of the seasonal fruits and vegetables you can always go to the farmer’s market. In almost every district part of the city there is a farmer’s market once a week, where people from the region sell fresh vegetables and fruits. If you live in the city center there is a Münstermarkt (a market around the Freiburger Münster) from Monday until Saturday. However farmer’s markets tend to be a little too pricey compared to the stores, so if you still prefer the supermarkets you can just choose products that hasn’t been wrapped in plastic. For things like onions, tomatoes, carrots and small fruits you can take a small tote with you or buy the reusable white totes that you can find in almost every supermarket in the section with vegetables and fruits.
Buy all of your grains and good stuff in jars from the plastic free store.
  • Bread. Most of the bread you can find in the supermarket is not only in a plastic bag, but it’s also not even a good or a healthy one. So just try to buy more bread and pastry from your local bakery. Here in Germany there are more than 300 different types of bread and they all have been maid the real way and taste great! To avoid plastic there bring your own bag or ask for a paper bag that you can reuse the next time.

The plastic free store.

For about three years now Freiburg has a plastic free store in the city center – the Glaskiste in the Moltkestraße N. 15. The concept is very simple – everything you need you can buy there.. plastic and package free. When I say everything, I literally mean everything – vegetables and fruits, beans and grains, coffee and bread, soap and washing lotions, oil and oats. You can either bring your own containers such as glas or reusable plastic boxes or buy or take some of the ones in the store. For a small contribution or for free you can take already used and good cleaned jars or glas bottles. You first weigh the container and then fill it with whatever you need. To support the zero-waste-concept you can also buy a lot of cosmetics and bad essentials package free – soap and hand soap (you can bring your soap container and fill it up!), shampoo bar (a lot of different options and they all smell great + made of only natural ingredients), bamboo toothbrush and tooth paste tabs, women hygiene products and even condoms. On Wednesdays there is even 10% discount for students.

Some bad essentials you can buy plastic free.

Think twice before you take coffee to go.. or bring your own cup!

Have you ever thought about how many coffee cups get thrown away after being used for just 15 minutes? Tausends of cups. The problem is that these coffee cups can’t be recycled as normal paper (not that paper cups are better), because they contain plastic. That means that they need to go into the mixed garbage. Not to mention that the coffee-to-go cups need a lot of water and energy to be produced, which it’s self-explaining why they are bad for the environment. Instead you can buy a nice reusable coffee mug and bring it with you!

In the Senkrecht-Café at the University you will this – explains a lot about the production of non reusable coffee cups.

*If you don’t want to buy a extra one, you can pay one Euro more and become the famous Freiburger Cup in every coffee shop at the University and library and many more in the city. You can take it with you and when you don’t need it anymore, just bring it back to a place where they sell it and get your money back!

Start small and stay committed.

To help the Universe doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go zero waste today. It’s also not possible. You can start step by step by first paying more attention to the things you buy and look for alternatives. It also doesn’t mean that you should throw away immediately all of your stuff that are not eco friendly. Today you can start with replacing your plastic toothbrush with one out of bamboo and your yogurt in a plastic package with the one in a jar. Tomorrow you can buy your oats in a jar instead in a plastic bag. Just make sure you use everything until it’s finished before you buy something new and five months from now you will reduce so much of your garbage amounts, that you will be proud of yourself! Once you stick to it, it gets easier and easier and by the end of the year you will be only buying stuff from the farmer’s market and preparing your own beauty natural products. Well, almost.

Buy regional and fairtrade products.

Shopping consciously doesn’t only mean to reduce plastic, but also to know what type of products you buy and where they come from. With things like coffee and chocolate for example you need to check on the package, if they were fair produced. Producing coffee and cocoa beans means often very hard work in bad conditions for almost no money. So you need to get more information about where your favorite chocolate or your coffee comes from and if by buying it you don’t support bad working conditions in poor countries.

Same is with palm oil. Palm oil is almost always one of the top 5 ingredients in sweet things, chips, packaged food. The problem with it is that is one major driver of deforestation of some of the biggest world forests, destroying the habitat different species like the Orangutan or the Sumatran rhino. That’s why is good to check the ingredients list and if you see palm oil or „Palmfett“ on it, don’t buy it.

More about the Sustainability Days Baden-Württemberg: N!-Tage – Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie Baden-Württemberg

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