On our journey towards reducing single-use packaging, we look for inspiring stories and meet up with people, who decided to take responsibility into their own hands whilst taking a stand against the business-as-usual practices. Last month we attended a talk with the zero waste movement founder Bea Johnson and visited Sarah Reindl, a founder of the first packaging free shop in Graz, Austria.
There are numerous reasons behind voluntarily cutting down on consumption , waste and disposable packaging. From the purely environmental over economical to practical. Be it simplifying and decluttering your life or making more time for things that matter the most rather than stuff.
Bea Johnson with her talk in Vienna’s Gartenbaukino posed to show that the zero waste lifestyle is indeed possible and can be more convenient beneficial than you may think on top. Alongside saving resources, she highlights health benefits, savvy ways to save money and fulfillment through immaterial means. .
Following the 5Rs in the respective order - refuse - reduce - reuse - recycle - rot - she, her husband and two sons have managed to reduce their annual waste production to only one mason jar. How do they manage it? Instead of being the victims of the marketing dictate and advertisement, they only buy things they really need and when they do - only second hand. When it comes to groceries, Bea shops in bulk or brings her own containers to the store. She learned how to make everything, which she couldn’t find at the store. This also applies for cosmetics. Beneficial not only because she can easily refill what has run out, but she can guarantee no unwanted chemical additives and simple ingredients (most of the times edible). Still can’t get your head around it? Find more practical tips on her webpage or check the app to find out where to shop in bulk in your city.
The next stop after Vienna was Graz, where Sarah recently opened her long planned packaging-free shop - Das Gramm. Her goal was to offer her customers an alternative to conventional supermarkets, raise awareness about the excessive amount of packaging and show that packaging-free shopping can be easy and fun. The fact that the team of Das Gramm takes the resource conservation seriously, is proved also by the little cafe they’ve opened as a part of the shop, where the food which hasn’t been sold is turned into delicious cakes, lunch menus and much more. Nothing is being wasted.
Reducing waste to zero might seem too radical, restrictive or utopian? Every decision counts. May it be giving up on your take-away coffee cup and switching to reusable or taking your own containers to the packaging free shop. Voluntarily simplicity and a minimalistic approach can have a bigger impact than you think. To end with the words of Bea Johnson: “Buying is like voting. By every purchase we express a need for more, a need for replacement.” Be it a demand for more packaging or for more organic fruits and vegetable. In other words - consumers do have the power of choice to influence the market in favour of green alternatives.
Photos: Ⓒ Kristýna Jaklová / Ⓒ Das Gramm Tina Reiter