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Blog initiative ‘IchNehmsOhne’: ‘Precycling is definitely becoming a trend’

It started with a New Year’s resolution, and has since become a pioneering ‘precycling’ campaign. The blog ‘IchNehmsOhne’ – which means ‘I’ll do without’ – provides advice on how to do without packaging when you go shopping. A conversation with the founders Miriam Klaussner and Julia Bayer.

On New Year’s Eve in 2013, Miriam Klaussner and Julia Bayer were sitting together with their friends discussing New Year resolutions. They’d do more sport, they said, and eat more healthily. Above all, they wanted to live in a more environmentally conscious way. Without producing any paper and plastic rubbish, perhaps? The two journalists made a bet that they could live without any packaging for a whole week. And they decided to blog about the experience. The response was enormous, as they received 10,000 clicks in a single week.

So far, the initially week-long precycling experiment has lasted for two years and counting, albeit with slightly less rigorous rules. And their blog ‘IchNehmsOhne’ continues to build an ever larger readership.

Precycling – what is that?

Precycling is the practice of reducing waste by attempting to avoid bringing into a home or business any items which will generate waste, thereby preempting the need for recycling. (Source: Wikipedia)

You can even get shampoo without packaging

Ms Klaussner, Ms Bayer, surely it’s not possible to live a life without packaging?

Miriam Klaussner: Yes, it’s possible. Even in the first week when we were very strict, things went surprisingly well. We were amazed ourselves. Of course, some things were easier than others.

What was easier and what was more difficult?

Julia Bayer: We never had a problem using the jute bags we took with us to pack bread, as well as fruit and vegetables – even in the supermarket, although when it came to their hygiene rules on the cheese counter they were more circumspect. For that, we had to go to the market.

Sweets and savoury snacks were a real challenge. But a lot of confectionary shops sell loose chocolate leftovers. And it’s possible to make your own crisps. Other things that were difficult were toothpaste, shower gel and cosmetics. We would always use bars of soap, and we bought shampoo from hairdressers. who have large trade packages. But that is relatively expensive – as is the rice you can buy loose in the delicatessen.

So life has become more expensive for you?

Miriam Klaussner: Not really. You see, we now only buy as much of anything as we really consume. I mean, we no longer need to throw anything away. That compensates for the savings we could otherwise make in the discount stores.

Julia Bayer: You save a lot if you use bars of soap again, instead of liquid soap. And if you bring your own container to the coffee shop to buy loose coffee beans, they might even give you a discount.

‘IchNehmsOhne’ blog: the precycling platform

Do you still live your lives as strictly packaging-free as at the beginning?

Miriam Klaussner: No. Now we’ve adopted an approach that’s more feasible at a day-to-day level. The aim is to produce less packaging waste. And our blog helps us in this. This began as a kind of report on our experiences from the experiment. Now it has become a platform, for which we research topics in a more journalistic way. We ask questions such as whether or not bamboo cutlery really makes a good alternative to plastic forks in fast food outlets.

And you also use the platform to get tips from the users?

Julia Bayer: Exactly. How to make your own cosmetics and deodorant, for instance. And at the same time, ‘IchNehmsOhne’ also lets the users exchange ideas amongst themselves. And we incorporate the results of those discussions into our articles.

Do you have the feeling that packaging-free shopping is catching on in Germany?

Miriam Klaussner: Yes, without a doubt. Especially last year the concept really hit the Zeitgeist. In 2014, all around Germany numerous packaging-free shops opened at the same time.

How ‘IchNehmsOhne’ started

An inspiration for ‘IchNehmsOhne’ was the no impact man’ Colin Beavan in New York. The US American writer and blogger attempted not to pollute the environment at all for an entire year. Miriam Klaussner and Julia Bayer do not want to live their lives quite so strictly. This makes it easier for them, with their plastic-free campaign, to be role models for ‘normal consumers’.

Avoiding packaging waste: ideas from the crowd

What are your plans for the future?

Miriam Klaussner: On our website, we want to start offering a guide to all the German cities which will let anyone find out if and where they can obtain products free of packaging in their locality. To do that, we need scouts who tell us about the offers available in their areas. In other words, a real ‘crowd’ project.

Julia Bayer: We already have a logo for ‘IchNehmsOhne’. This is something that shops can stick in their doors or windows if they offer at least one packaging-free product.

Packaging-free living

These ten tips by precycling-experts Miriam Klaussner and Julia Bayer of the blog initiative ‘IchNehmsOhne’ (‘I’ll do without’) will show you how to live plastic-free. In texts and images.

Ten expert tips

December 2015

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