Plastic is a great product of the human spirit of exploration. How plastic protects food from germs, for example. Food can be stored longer for consumption in this way.
But the triumph of plastic has a dark side. Plastic destroys the environment and also directly attacks human health. Since plastic degrades only very slowly, more and more gauze accumulates. According to the federal environment agency, a single plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to completely decompose.
Alternatives in the supermarket
"Last but not least, microscopic plastics, so-called microplastics, end up back on our plates sooner or later via the food chain", says matthias zeuner-hanning of the consumer center bavaria. Doing without plastic completely from one day to the next – that's possible. This radical reversal, however, presupposes a willingness to forego many comforts that are taken for granted.
The other option is to ban plastic from one's life step by step, and with each step a little bit more. This can be achieved without sacrificing quality of life. Supermarket chains are giving a boost: the plastic bag ban means that in many stores, only plastic bags or shopping cartons are available at the checkout. This is also the case at the rewe store in ebelsbach, as manager stefan helmreich reports. Also in the knetzgauer edeka-markt there are the cartons, which are well received. "We sell about 50 pieces per week", says managing director arnold karais. These were made to last for months and carry a weight of up to 25 kilograms.
Excluded from the plastic ban are the tutes in the fruit and vegetable department. But even here there are environmentally friendly solutions. "We have reusable nets and paper bags as alternatives to the plastic bag", tells michael meyer, junior manager of the edeka store of the same name in zeil. When the paper bags run out, some customers even ask for them because they don't want to use the small plastic bags, adds arnold karais "customers are also buying more loose goods in general.", female in relation to shrink-wrapped vegetables.
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"There are also some who bring their own containers", says meyer. It is not uncommon in other supermarkets, either, where food is put directly into a plastic bag at the meat and cheese counter instead of being wrapped in a plastic film. Environmental awareness has been on the rise for the last three to four years, says karais.
"The trend is definitely away from plastic, helmreich also says with regard to the bottles. Here, however, the changing consumer behavior is not as noticeable as with the other products in the supermarket, says meyer. But the store managers agree that the behavior of customers will change fundamentally – and not just because of bans. Out of their own interest, more and more customers are turning to environmentally friendly packaging and alternatives.
So to reduce plastic, there are many alternatives offered in supermarkets. For an overview, the consumer centers in bavaria and north rhine-westphalia give basic tips for reducing plastic in everyday life.
Reducing plastic when shopping: 6 tips from consumer advice centers
1. Use reusable bags
Since plastic tins are no longer sold free of charge, but only for a small fee, their consumption has dropped noticeably.
Despite their superficially good image, disposable bags made of paper or bioplastics are not considered a truly environmentally friendly alternative. Waste-free and environmentally friendly shopping companions are the preserved cloth bags and the shopping basket. "Lightweight reusable bags made of robust polyester fabric are practical for spontaneous purchases and even better than cotton bags from an ecological point of view", says matthias zeuner-hanning of the bayerb consumer center. You love to fold small and put in your handbag.
2. Dunne toutes at loose were avoid
Small cloth bags with a drawstring are "a good alternative," according to the bayerische verbraucherzentrale (bavarian consumer center) on the dark plastic bags used to transport open-faced fruit and vegetables.
Drawstring bags are offered in organic food stores as well as on the internet. By the way, they can also be made from leftover fabric. A christmas present? Drawstring bags are also an environmentally friendly alternative for dry products such as bread: "for your sunday sandwiches alone, you save around 50 paper minutes a year", says matthias zeuner-hanning.
3. Store with unpacked goods try
The commitment of supermarkets and discounters should not be denied. Stirred up by debates for more environmental and climate protection as well as changing customer preferences, they too are increasingly interested in avoiding plastic waste.
According to the consumer advice center of bavaria, organic food stores, farm stores and weekly markets are alternatives for buying unpackaged goods without the plastic packaging that surrounds them. The "unpacked store" business model , one of them is in bamberg in the luitpold-strabe, is the offer of loose goods, which the customer fills with his purchase in self-brought or reusable containers. In the bamberger "unpacked store" in the meantime there is a rough part of goods of the daily need – even cleaning and detergent for self-filling.
4. Use your own packaging
The hygiene regulations in force in germany are strict. The area behind the counter is a restricted area for materials that do not originate from the store itself. According to the consumer advice center of north rhine-westphalia, however, "several practices" have since become the new system was developed to circumvent the problem: goods are handed directly to customers over the counter, sometimes with the help of paper or tongs.
Or the customer puts his supply box on a tray on the counter. The sales staff fills them there. The coffee-to-go returnable cups fill many cafes and bakeries.
5. Avoid plastic bottles
Tap water in germany is of high quality and has other advantages, such as an unbeatable price. "This way you avoid any packaging and you don't have to carry heavy boxes", says matthias zeuner-hanning of the verbraucherzentrale bavaria (consumer advice center).
6. Shopping with good preparation
Spontaneous shopping, even with an empty stomach, has an effect on consumer behavior. Far too much food quickly ends up in the cart, which later possibly spoils and ends up in the mull. In addition, there is often a lack of patience to compare packaging. Even if you don't feel hungry, you shouldn't go shopping on the spur of the moment: without a shopping list, you'll quickly forget one product or another – which means you'll have to head back to the supermarket the next day. And often it's the cloth bags or the braids that have been left lying around at home.