Sustainability in everyday life: 10 tips for sustainable consumer behavior

Minimalism has become a trend. This has advantages and disadvantages 10 tips for sustainable consumer behavior. Regardless of the short life of trends, you have to be able to afford minimalism (as it is lived today).

Sustainability as a lifestyle sometimes puts me on the edge of the mind. Nonetheless, there are (affordable) and necessary ways to consume less and thus produce less waste. How to reduce your own waste production I have collected in the following.

custumer behaviour

Disclaimer: Of course I do not ALWAYS buy in with reason and my consumption behavior is not exemplary in every situation. But I work on it!

1. Food shopping with mind

The grocery shopping should always start with the following preparation: Pack a cloth bag or something like that, think about what you want to buy (I personally do that in writing – my memory sets on colorful, crowded shelves ever) and you should have the opportunity to be able to shop at a weekly market or in an unpacked store, take along groceries for individual foods.

food shopping

Why is the shopping list necessary? Anyone who goes hungry or haphazard shopping tends to buy groceries that end up not being used and end up as impulse buying in residual waste. To prevent this, it is worthwhile to rethink the dishes of the coming days. The goal is simple: to eat everything you have bought.

I myself can still remember exactly how my parents in the supermarket have basically checked the expiration dates of the products (does anyone else?) And then have opted for the longest shelf life.

Personally, I would only do that to find the fresh milk that is about to expire. Finally I do not want to leave the fresh milk in the fridge for 3 weeks. And on the best before date I do not have to say anything more.

It is already convenient to be able to grab the banana banana, the packaged carrots or the 3 stalks of parsley (if you know the 15g herbal packs, then you should think about the food-plastic ratio). The problem: Most buyers grab for the contiguous bananas and the individual pieces remain. What happens to brown, individual bananas? They are thrown away.

The same applies to unattractive fruit and vegetables – the first impulse makes you almost always reach for the just-grown, because we have learned to equate nicely with appetizing.

2. Shopping for plastic food

Not always – but more often – you have the opportunity to buy food without plastic. In unpacked shops you get, as the name says, food without packaging.

plastic food

Anyone who invests once in fresh food cans, nets, fabric bags or preserving jars, can only buy what they really consume from this point onwards and buy them in a more sustainable and, ideally, cheaper way. My only concern in this case is that such stores do not last permanently, which in the long run deprives us of the opportunity to shop unpackaged.

In the US and Canada there is an app that shows where to find “bulk bins”. Say, not only purely packaging-free shops are displayed, but also any store where you can fill food or buy individually.

A list of shops where you can buy packaging in Germany, Austria and Switzerland can be found here:

You also have the opportunity to buy your own desired quantity of food on weekly markets. Whether fruit, vegetables, bread or cheese – so far I have never had the experience that I have not packed the food in my self-brought storage options.

Anyway, if you prefer to shop in supermarkets and discounters, you can reduce the amount of plastic here as well. Often there are both unpacked and packaged carrots – the decision should be clear. It is also worthwhile to accept the one-time “expense” and to take the rosemary plant in the pot instead of the packaged three stems.

Probably the biggest waste that I personally still lapse are plastic bottles. In Germany, to my knowledge, there is no place where the tap water is not very good drinkable. Filtered, the water also tastes fresh for a much longer time. And if you do not want to do without sparkling water, you can buy a water sprinkler.

For me, it usually fails because I have no refillable bottle with me, often because it does not fit in my pocket. I have to think about my pocket choice.

3. Leftovers as a resource

Logically, what is not eaten, does not have to be thrown away. Often it tastes even better the next day. But even leftovers that are not suitable for consumption, can be used. Example coffee grounds: Dried coffee grounds are ideal as a plant fertilizer, body scrub or odor neutralizer.

Would you like to know more about the benefits of coffee grounds? 6 tips for reuse can be found here
The peel of citrus fruits can be used as a natural fragrance in home-made cleansers. Also many desserts and sweet snacks are upgraded with lemon zest.

Basically, if you buy non-sprouted, organically grown fruits and vegetables, you need not be afraid of the shell. Even sweet potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables do not need to be peeled.

The green of beetroot, kohlrabi, celery and many other vegetables can also be used. If you are not a friend of all-green-tasting ingredients, you can hide the green in juices and smoothies. Bananas, mangoes or pears hide the taste.

4. Composting in the big city

Composting is not only possible in your own garden. If you do not want to transport your food to a compost or organic waste, you can also compost very comfortably in the city apartment – with a worm farm.

A box full of food leftovers and compost worms can revive a very unique ecosystem. Ultimately, a so-called worm humus, a high-quality fertilizer, which is very cost-intensive in trade.

Anyone who is self-sufficient in the heart, but in reality still a long way away, can at least try with a few edible plants on the balcony and fertilizer from the Wurmkiste.

5. Not plastic-free, but more free

I have now made it clear that our grocery shopping could cause much less plastic. There are many more ways to do without plastic in everyday life. Thanks to Coffee To Go, 2.8 billion disposable cups end up in Germany every year.

Of course you can forget about its reusable cup, but in the long run is probably worth 90% of coffee drinkers a To Go glass mug or similar. Often there is also a discount for the purchased coffee.

It’s not just coffee that you can fill in your own cup, even with food is increasingly possible. A fresh box and your own cutlery (bamboo cutlery makes taking along particularly easy, because it is extremely light and takes up little space) make this possible. Anyone planning to bring their own takeaway during their lunch break can bring their own utensils as well.

At this point it is probably time to take the wind out of the sails of the argument of spontaneity. There’s nothing wrong with spontaneously opting for a To Go ice cream cup, but at least the ice cream cone should be considered and not made regularity.

Anyone who buys a roll every morning at the bakery can also pack their lunch box every morning. Also in environmental protection, there is not only completely or not at all.

What also meanwhile causes a great deal of waste is the packaging of drugstore products. Thanks to countless “DM Hauls” on Youtube, the beauty industry is booming like never before. Shower gels with chia seeds, shower serums with hyaluronic acid or shower foams with raspberry and thyme flavor. There is everything the world does not need. And every nonsense has to be tested.

Targeted products are taken out of the assortment at regular intervals, whether they sell well or not. After all, the user has to go back to search for his favorite product and can be excellently manipulated while doing so.

If you do not want to make your own shower gel on the basis of core soap yourself, you can also bottle your drugstore products in packaging-free shops or buy soap blocks, even in one piece.

6. Do it yourself

As just mentioned, there is usually also the possibility to make something yourself. That goes from the detergent to a new desk to the stereo system. With the right guidance, a lot can succeed.

Products such as floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and lip balm produce hardly any garbage, are usually healthier and pollute the environment less.

I myself have recently built a new desk. Not only have I saved a lot of money and packaging, I have learned many useful things in the meantime, which will be very helpful in future repairs. And hopefully keep me from unnecessary new purchases.

7. Upcycling: Do not think so linear

Speaking of new purchases – last week I bought a new plant, unfortunately I did not have a matching vase, but what I had was a discarded cup, which now makes an excellent vase. If you need suggestions for upcycling ideas, you will quickly find what you are looking for online. Car tires become a bicycle stand, glass bottles become a candlestick, hats become lampshades, and clothespins become flowerpots.

Giving objects a new purpose saves them from the garbage and can still create the feeling of something new.

8. Share

If the discarded cup is so no joy, it should still not land on the trash. Give away, sell or exchange – there is the possibility to find a new home for old products both online and offline.

You can buy, sell and give away at flea markets near you, at your home, by inviting friends and acquaintances, in second hand shops (like Emmaus and Humana) and on the following online portals

9. Slow Fashion Vs. Fast Fashion: shopping wisely

Especially fashion trends are extremely fast-paced. Fast fashion companies are constantly updating their product range. If you like something, it is best to buy immediately or the product is no longer available. The more impulsive the purchase, the less likely it is to have a long life. In addition, the often inferior quality comes. Garments that quickly lose their shape or get holes land accordingly quickly in the garbage.

Anyone who buys with care and invests in high-quality products fights fast fashion and thus not only the disposable mentality, but also the mass production under extremely poor conditions.

Incidentally, the classic that regularly lands in the garbage is the umbrella. Again, it is worthwhile to invest a few euros more. Then the argument that the umbrella is constantly forgotten gets lost. As soon as you give it a certain value, it is not so easy to lose sight of.

10. Exchange disposable products

Finally, I have compiled an overview of typical disposable products and their alternatives

disposable products

  • Tampons – menstrual cup
  • Binding – cloth bandages
  • Straws – metal shafts
  • Liquid soap – bar soap
  • Coffee Mug – To-Go glass mug, thermos flasks
  • Plastic bottles – refillable bottles
  • Plastic cutlery – bamboo cutlery (particularly suitable for traveling on the go), chopsticksTeabags – Loose tea in tea strainer
  • Coffee Capsules – refillable capsules or using a French Press / espresso maker
  • Razor Blades – Safety Razor
  • Facial Tissues and Cotton Pads – Washable Microfiber Towels
  • Paper bags – lunch boxes, cloth bags or food containers
  • Children’s toys made of plastic – wooden toys (durable)
  • Diapers – cloth diapers
  • Sundae – edible croissants
  • Umbrellas – high quality umbrellas
  • Electrical waste – Repair, because even if it is not financially
  • worth it, for the environment it is worthwhile Disposable barbecues – Portable, foldable barbecues

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