Buying unpackaged items

Simple tips:

More than a trend: Buying unpackaged items is good for consumers, for climate protection and for nature. Buying plastic-free isn’t that hard with a couple of easy tips. Learn more here about where you can get unpackaged food, how you can buy unpackaged items at the supermarket too - and what the advantages are of buying without packaging.


As old as mankind

Packaging has been around as long as us humans. It is used to protect food and sensitive goods during transport and storage. Hunters and gatherers even wrapped their food in leaves that they tied up with grasses. As our ancestors learned to use tools, they fashioned transport vessels out of hollowed-out gourds, animal skins and turtle shells.

Why do without packaging?

As practical as plastic packaging is - it also has serious disadvantages:

The production of plastic packaging requires a great deal of energy. It also requires petroleum, a fossil raw material. Recycling plastic is also energy intensive - and expensive. That is why a big portion of plastic trash is incinerated or exported by ship. This means it can end up in rivers and oceans.

It takes 450 years for one plastic bottle to decompose. Every year, about eight million tons of packaging waste ends up in the world's oceans. Every year, one million seabirds and 100,000 other marine creatures die from the impact of litter pollution on their habitats.

Some plastics contain harmful substances, such as plasticizers. These may under some circumstances make their way into the packaged food. Plastic trash in the ocean is broken down into the tiniest pieces by UV light and the movement of the waves. The microplastic this creates is ingested by marine animals and thus introduced into our food cycle.

How can you buy unpackaged items?

Shrink-wrapped cucumbers, cut fruit in plastic bowls - it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can use the following tips to do without packaging in your everyday life:

Plan your shopping to avoid impulse buying. This not only saves packaging waste, but also money.

Bring your own container with you for different groups of goods – for example cloth bags or vegetable nets.

Reusable packaging
Avoid disposable packaging and instead choose reusable packaging.

Buy beverages in glass bottles instead of plastic bottles. A particularly environmentally friendly alternative: tap water.

If broccoli is only available packaged in plastic wrap at the supermarket, you can alternatively choose the unpackaged cauliflower.

Storage containers
Packaging can also be used for storage. Transfer food into storage containers at home that are made of porcelain, glass or stainless steel.

Want to know more? There is a selection of books on the topic of buying plastic-free and zero waste at your local bookstore.

Colourful Spring jar
Colourful Spring jar
Colourful Spring jar
Colourful Spring jar
Colourful Spring jar
Colourful Spring jar
Checklist for your next shopping outing

Buying unpackaged items: Containers are indispensable if you want to do without industrial packaging. You will find tips for suitable utensils in this checklist:

Cloth bags
Bring your own cloth bags with you when you go shopping. This way you can pass on the plastic bags. You should also keep cloth bags in your car or bicycle basket in case you want end up going shopping unexpectedly sometime. Cloth bags are now available in attractive designs.

Bread bag
Special fabric bread bags are ideal for shopping at the bakery.

Vegetable net
Pass on the thin plastic bags in the vegetable department and use vegetable nets or laundry nets.

Waxed cloth
Reusable waxed cloths are a good replacement for plastic wrap.

Porcelain containers with a lid
Villeroy & Boch’s product range includes beautiful and practical porcelain bowls with tight-sealing lids. They are suitable for many different types of food.

Stainless steel box
Lockable containers made of stainless steel are ideal for sausage and cheese.

The plastic containers are also suitable for goods from the fresh food counter.

Glass with a screw top
Loose dry goods such as nuts, legumes or rice are easily stored in jam jars or preserving jars.

Coffee can
Tea and coffee cans made of metal or porcelain are also practical for loose goods.

Glass bottle
A glass bottle is useful if you are buying fresh milk at a milk dispenser or fresh juice at a juice station.

Reusable coffee mug
Pass on the disposable coffee cup and instead have your coffee to go poured in a reusable cup. You will find high quality to go cups made of porcelain at Villeroy & Boch.

A bag, a big backpack or a shopping trolley can be useful for transporting your purchases.