Recently I went shopping at the supermarket. After paying at the checkout, I noticed again that the entire purchase does not fit easily into the backpack. So first I remove the superfluous outer packaging and leave it in the shop. I think about it for a moment and get excited: “What’s with all the superfluous packaging and are there still no alternatives?”

Persistent excitement leads me to research alternatives in the area on the internet. I quickly stumble across various markets, the “unpacked” shop, the zero-waste label and the organic supermarket “Erdkorn”.

Great! I can try them all out right away. Even longer journeys and shopping trips do not scare me. No sooner said than done I was off to the weekly market and the “unpacked” shop. Stop – first take enough containers for the unpacked products and write a shopping list. On it are everyday items such as pasta, vegetables, shower gel and chocolate. Everything is great at the market. There is a vast selection of goods. The prices are higher here at the market, which is justified by the better quality and freshness. Similarly, in the “unpacked” shop the prices are significantly higher than at the discounter. At the same time, however, the quality of the products on offer is said to stand out clearly in comparison to, for example, Aldi. However, this drives up the costs for our test purchase.

Does the unpacked organic produce justify the soaring prices? Should not access be made palatable to the entire population with moderate prices through a different pricing policy? Also, and essentially during sustainability and protection of the environment? Is it all just empty talk in the name of sustainability and protection of the environment?

It is desirable that politics does what it is supposed to do: create framework conditions,introduce regulations and laws. They should take away the industry’s ground for deceptive packaging and triple packaging. Instead, focus on the content instead of the packaging. Otherwise, we will just be paying lip service…!

But what can each one of us do? Use the bags and backpacks we bring with us for shopping. Avoid double and triple wrapped products whenever possible. Buy unpacked fruit and vegetables whenever possible. Leave outer packaging in the shop which maynot directly save waste but eventuall with massive participation will make supermarkets rethink in the long run.

Considering the prices, it is difficult for people with low incomes to make everyday purchases in the organic supermarket “Erdkorn” or in the “unpacked” shop. Even though the products may be of higher quality, only a few can afford the seven to nine times higher price of our test items. So, we can only hope that the idea of waste prevention will also become more widespread at discounters. We, as consumers, can at least contribute by using shopping bags more than once, disposing of useless packaging directly in the shops and, if possible, simply leaving out the small plastic bags for fruit and vegetables. Another option is to buy large packages. However, it is important to pay attention to the expiry date and the prices. The large packages are not always cheaper by the kilo. Further hopes are based on the zero-waste promise as there are still plenty of possibilities! Consumers should be made aware of these through regular information.