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Zero Waste: Life without packaging

Zero Waste : Life without packaging

The “Zero Waste” initiative is trying to avoid all forms of packaging. The next meeting of the Bonn group is on 28 August.

Germany is good at packaging: according to the Federal Environment Agency at the end of July, no other country in Europe produces as much packaging waste as Germany. A fact not everyone wants to simply accept. Under the slogan “Zero Waste,” people all over the world are opposing the packaging mania and trying to dispense with packaging completely. Now supporters of this “Zero Waste” movement in Bonn have met for the first time to network with each other and find ideas for joint projects.

“It really affects everything,” the organiser of the meeting, Annalena van Beek, explains about the consequences for everyday life, “be it plastic waste, waste paper, general rubbish or organic waste, but also clothing, for example, that you then buy second-hand.” Instead of plastic bags, jute bags are used, instead of toothpaste, tooth-cleaning tablets that are put in re-usable glasses and then weighed. It works the same way with pasta.

Increase in public awareness

Public awareness of the problem is already increasing, explains the young student: “Three years ago, I had the feeling that it was not yet something everyone was talking about.”

That has since changed. This could be seen from the around 50 participants who came to the meeting and stretched the room to its limits. The increased interest is noticeable, especially against the background of recently released figures. At the end of July 2016, the Federal Environment Agency announced that Germany was again “European Champion” in the production of packaging waste. 18.16 million tonnes of packaging waste is generated annually in Germany. This corresponds to 220.5 kilogrammes of waste per capita. “A sad top position,” said the president of the Environment Agency, Maria Krautzberger, of the figures. Between 2000 and 2016, the figure rose by 19 per cent and there was also an increase in 2016 compared to the previous year. This can be seen from figures from the Statistical Office of the EU. If the previous years’ trend continues, Germany will also top the list in 2017 and 2018. Official figures for 2017 have not yet been released.

Do Germans lack sensitivity when it comes to cutting waste? “You are more likely to be labelled an environmentalist, but most people find that great,” contradicts van Beek. Many even defend why they themselves have not yet started. She thinks this is nonsense. “Everyone starts something in their own time and everyone must come round to the idea themselves of wanting to do it.” The lifestyle could be easily implemented in Bonn. In every supermarket, you could simply put fruit and vegetables on the checkout, there is a no packaging shop “Deinet” in Duisdorf and the range of unpackaged goods is also increasing in the organic supermarket “Basic.” “The only things that are perhaps harder are snacks and sweets, but there are also alternatives,” she explains. Apart from that, quality of life improves. You have much more contact with the salespeople in the shops and with food producers, which also increases your connection to food.

Tips and tricks for correct implementation

The Zero-Waste-Group in Bonn was previously only on Facebook. (www.facebook.com/zerowastebonn). Tips and tricks on implementing no waste correctly were exchanged at the meeting and participants also came up concrete project ideas. For those who are interested, a list will be compiled of where you can buy packaging-free in Bonn and information talks about the lifestyle or surveys on the campaign against straws at supermarkets are also being considered. The next meeting is on Tuesday 28 August at the Ermekeil barracks.

(Original text: Matthias Beckonert. Translation: kc)