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How to reduce plastic waste at home

to reduce plastic waste at home

What are the ways to reduce plastic waste at home? There are several strategies you can start using immediately to cut your use of plastic.

Plastic – in the supermarket, on the streets, in the forest, in the world’s oceans. We had talked about it in our family so many times, for so long. And then came the day we finally got started: saving plastic on food to reduce plastic waste at home.

“What rubbish!” That was my husband’s standard rate when we came back from the weekly bulk shopping. By that my husband meant of course neither the cheese nor the sauce, the fruit or the bright red tomatoes, but the whole thing. The hard-shell packaging, the plastic bottles and boxes, the foils. We had long since made plans to buy less plastic. But do you also know the feeling of helplessness when you stand in a shop where almost EVERYTHING is packed in plastic?

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A plan was needed

Microplastics in our food, garbage strudel in the oceans, plastic in the stomach of seabirds – all this news has long shaken us. What we lacked was not the will, but a concrete plan. So I started collecting tips on how to reduce plastic waste at home, or even better, almost without plastic.

And soon our 17-year-old daughter, who was already sensitized by “Fridays for Future” campaigns, was infected with the plastic saving virus. She immediately began to mix her natural cosmetics in glasses herself. I especially wanted the food packaging on the collar. Because in our plastic waste it made up the most mass.

However, we did not want to completely turn our everyday lives upside down. Driving from one store to another to buy this one there and that one there — not possible.

Solutions to reduce plastic waste at home

The weekly farmers market has become the best address for me to shop in a time-saving manner. Because here there is a large part of the daily food needs such as fruit, vegetables, cheese, sausage, eggs, meat, fish. In the meantime I have gotten out to hold the bag up quickly.

Because market sellers habitually grab a bag too quickly. What I love in the market are the regional products. However, I also know that not everyone has time when the weekly market is open. 

Bulk stores almost exclusively offer goods that are not packed in plastic. Food such as nuts and raisins, rice and cereal products, legumes and dried fruits, muesli, detergents, dishwashing detergents and cleaning agents can also be filled there in the containers they brought with them, such as cans and glasses — which helps you to reduce plastic waste at home. Organic markets also have a relatively high proportion of unpackaged goods.

If bulk purchases in unpackaged stores and health food stores are too expensive for you, you can switch to a large supermarket if you have a fresh counter. Here you can buy fresh things like cheese and sausage, meat and fish without plastic. Provided you have a clean can with you. With fruits and vegetables, you have to be surprised how many varieties are unpacked.

The fresh food counter

Is it allowed to bring your own packaging to a supermarket counter? The answer is: in principle yes. But certain hygiene rules must be observed. Specifically, this means that the germs that are brought in must not come into contact with the food behind the counter so that any germs that may be present cannot spread there. For example, the employee places a tray on the counter in a hygienically correct manner, on which I then place my can to be filled. The markets themselves decide whether or not they are open to such practice. The more people ask, the more open they are likely to become.

Our customers can bring their own containers to fill them with the food of their choice at the open (including muesli and dried fruit) and at the served counters (including meat and cheese). It is important that the containers are clean. For safety reasons, no breakable containers may be used.

Rebecca Veiga, spokeswoman for Coop

fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables can also be placed loosely on the conveyor belt in the supermarket. Alternatively, they can be stowed in veggie bags. These are washable and reusable fruit and vegetable nets that are available in the supermarket in the fruit and vegetable department for little money.

Why not pick and harvest yourself every now and then? Children not only find this really cool, they also learn what the plants look like and in which month they bear fruit. Not only strawberries can be picked on farms . A search on the internet will give you many places to pick different fruit and vegetables.


Bread doesn’t have to be in the bag. We take one of the cotton bags we have at home. The baker passes the bread over the counter and drops it into the open bag without touching it. In the bag, the bread stays fresh for several days without mold. Every now and then he comes in the washing machine. By the way, baking bread with the family and trying different types is really fun.


Great if you have found a dealer who can give you cheese and sausage fresh over the counter. But it doesn’t always have to be cheese and sausage. Fresh homemade bread toppings are rich and taste fine. The paprika cream cheese spread is a hit with us.

dairy products

Regardless of whether it’s milk, yogurt, thick milk or curd cheese: glasses with a deposit system from the region are the most environmentally friendly. They are most likely to be found in health food stores and ‘unpackaged’ stores. By the way, you can also make yogurt yourself.

canned goods

If you want to save plastic, it is best to buy unpacked. And that works best with fresh food. But sometimes you just need canned food. Then the goods from the jar are a good alternative. Because cans are often covered with a plastic coating on the inside. The screw-top jar can also be used at home.

I keep pasta, oatmeal, raisins, cornflakes and rice in screw-top jars. Smaller jars serve as jam jars in summer. Screw-top jars are even good for freezing if the food cools well before freezing and there is enough air in the glass. With a marker, I write on the glass what’s inside.

baking paper

Baking paper is harmless paper? Not at all. Baking paper is non-stick coated, for example with plastic silicone. I don’t think you need it. My mother greased the tin and cake tin well and sprinkled breadcrumbs or breadcrumbs over it.


We have significantly reduced plastic packaging for food, I would say a good half. So there is still plastic waste left. Because the milk products in glasses are too expensive and too heavy for us. And sometimes there is not enough time and we quickly shop in the shop next door – and almost everything is packed there. Fortunately, we are not perfectionists.

It seems much more important to us that we have made our way, continue to try to save even more garbage and talk to others about it. Because saving plastic can be contagious.

Author: Genevieve Dumas is a food, fashion and beauty stylist from New York, who has worked for a range of major magazines.

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