When it comes to sustainability, we are very lucky to live in Berlin. I remember this every time I talk to my friends and family at home. Often marketed as being trendy, time-consuming, and expensive, a lot of people think you need to completely rethink your lifestyle to be more sustainable… but that’s just not true. Being more sustainable is about figuring out what you use the most and then finding a way to get those same products in a way that doesn’t impact our planet as negatively.
There are some fantastic unpackaged stores to choose from in Berlin that not only allow us to support local businesses and encourage innovation, but also give us the power to refuse – to send a clear message that we don’t want to. that our products are wrapped in plastic. And because we live in Berlin, we can achieve this without too much extra effort on our part and without breaking the bank.
I completely changed the way I shop, drastically reducing the amount of junk I create – but managed to keep my monthly budget unchanged. While it is true that the prices in bulk stores are often a little higher because they meet very strict criteria (eg fair trade, organic, regional, from cradle to cradle, etc.), it is not it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The key to being more sustainable without increasing your budget? Balance it.
First of all, find out where you can buy to SAVE money by getting rid of the packaging; this will then open up a bit of extra budget for more specialty / premium items that just can’t be found in regular stores.
Next, figure out if it makes sense to buy some items you use a lot in bulk (to me, these are vegan flour, rice, cinnamon, lye, and cheese). This will not only save you trips to the store (saves time, yes!), But it will also save you money, as the price per kilogram for bulk items is usually lower than for individually wrapped portions.
I know what you are thinking: can you really be more sustainable if you shop in regular stores and supermarkets? Absolutely. You just need:
- basic knowledge of the difference between Mehrweg and Einweg (reusable vs single use),
- an understanding of which materials / packaging is a better choice in terms of recyclability to help you make decisions on the shelf * and
- reusable fruit and veg bags (to avoid those dirty looks at the checkout when your potatoes start to roll all over the place.)
One of my favorite places to get fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs without packaging is Oz Gida, in Schöneberg. Turkish supermarkets are great, and they are scattered all over Berlin. Once I have done the majority of my fruit and vegetable purchases, I usually take the Bio Insel route..
This independent organic store offers a great selection of unpackaged vegetables and salads, as well as fresh tofu (from Soy rebels), glass seitan, peanut butter and a good selection of wines in reusable bottles (Mehrweg).
It just happens to be my nearest unverpackt store, and while convenience does of course come into play, that’s not the only reason I choose to patronize this store.
In addition to legumes and staple grains (quinoa, popcorn, red lentils, gummy candies, etc.), they carry my absolute favorite brand of local shampoo bars from Sauberkunst, and they have some great specialty items that I’ve never seen elsewhere in Berlin – fantastic Chai tea and potato chips, for example. Her selection is constantly evolving and evolving to meet the needs of her customers, so I love going there to explore… plus she carries my favorite oat milk, as well as tofu and regional wines, to Mehrweg.
We cook a lot, so sometimes I have to visit different unverpackt stores for specific items. Location has an impact, while there are great options in Prenzlauerberg (Der Sachen Wegen) and Kreuzberg (Original unverpackt) it’s just too far away for me to warrant a trip. Also, I fell in love with some of Berlin’s unrecognized unpackaged stores as they have a slightly different selection. Here are some of my favorites:
This gem is located in Wilmersdorf. The lovely owners are passionate about what they do and have a great selection of basic items as well as some unique items that I haven’t found in other stores. They have a milk machine, so you can fill your bottles with milk, as well as loose kombucha, maple syrup, and fresh oat milk. Their selection of snacks is fantastic and they have a really solid line of cleaning and toiletries.
Another recent addition to the scene, this boutique is tiny, but don’t let that fool you. Their standard selection of basics is robust, but they also contain items you can’t find elsewhere … and improve their delivery game. They carry fresh tofu in glass of Teto, as well as vegan and tempeh cheeses from Tivonit. While they can’t carry many different variations of the same product due to space limitations, they still manage to carry a bit of everything – from cleaning supplies and toiletries to spices.
When you’re in the mood for something special… this is a great store to check out. They have a nice little loose selection with not so common ingredients like mung daal and shelled pistachios … but the highlight for me has to be their cardamom coffee. This shop specializes in Arabic food, so you can also find good pickles and jams that are not available elsewhere. In addition, the owners are really friendly and helpful.
If you’re not quite ready to tackle the kitchen and want to start with your bathroom… then I suggest you swing by Erica, in Neukölln. She has a ton of artisanal soaps and shampoo bars to choose from and can give you advice on which products would best suit your skin / hair type… as well as a great selection of plastic-free alternatives for the bathroom. bath.
Living in Berlin makes it easy to be more sustainable. By changing your approach to consumption and trying to balance your shopping – opting for unpackaged products at your regular store and paying more attention to packaging materials, then figuring out how to supplement / replace certain items with a visit in an unpackaged (unpackaged / bulk), or buying it in bulk and storing it at home – you not only have a positive impact, but you send a clear signal to manufacturers that you expect more . Remember that if we don’t buy it, they will stop making it …
Meg koch ‘s mission is to help consumers change their consumption habits to be more sustainable. After spending over 15 years in the advertising and tech industries helping businesses convince people to buy things they didn’t need, she decided to quit her job and make an impact. social positive by allowing others to harness their purchasing power for good. It offers both 1: 1 home consultations and online courses. Her next 6 week course starts on April 12.
* Download my free recycling guide in English, here
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