Day 13: Making local and sustainable consumer choices

Picture of Clara del Rey
Day 13: Making local and sustainable consumer choices
by Clara del Rey - 10 July 2015
Clara del Rey // 10 July 2015 // #GoingGreen #WasteNot

While a good number of those who live a waste-free life are vegans or vegetarians (and for that reason can safely say that they can buy most of their food package-free), I am an omnivore and eat both meat and fish together with my greens. Nowadays, it appears to me, identifying stores and markets where you can buy loose products (without plastic packaging materials, that is) as it was common just two or three decades ago, has become extremely difficult. I still remember my mother going to the fishmonger or the butcher sections in the supermarket and buy her preferred goods wrapped in paper, but today, it seems, absolutely everything comes in a styrofoam tray wrapped in one or even two plastic wrap layers—what a waste!

I was glad to see that, among last year's Going Green student action plans there were a number of groups who directly addressed this issue within their own schools and local communities. The students from Schubart-Gymnasium in Aalen, for example, investigated consumer opinions on local produce, interviewed customers and vendors at their local farmer's market, and reached out to their community through newspapers and radio. Or the students from Strittmatter Gymnasium in Gransee who organized an action day at their school about their project Food for Thought. And, eventually, take the example of the students at Goethe-Gymnasium in Frankfurt who impressed not only me with their concept of a mobile app, Greenate, that shows its users where to find the nearest stores, markets, and restaurants that prioritize local and organic products.

My personal advice is, if you really want to make a difference, both socially and environmentally, look for your nearest small traders and buy your fish, cheese, meats or eggs from them. Inquire about bringing your own containers, I am sure they’ll be just delighted to fill them with your choice of products. Support the little family businesses and cooperatives that will help your community grow stronger. And, if you eat a variety of foods like I do, do it responsibly, buy less (get information of how much intake is really sustainable for our planet), and buy it better, buy organic. Along these past four weeks, I have shared with you some of my most basic strategies to save waste and live a more conscious lifestyle by building connections with your surroundings, enforcing ethical values, and thereby increasing your health and wellbeing. For me, this lifestyle isn’t just a trend, but a necessity, as our planet is in a critical condition because of the damage our consumer decision can cause to the oceans, forests, atmosphere, and the long etcetera of nature’s treasures.

Taking steps to protect the Earth is actually quite easy and, this I hope has become evident in my blog posts, even fun—especially when you realize how big the waste-free movement is becoming. Have courage to connect with them and build bridges. It definitely is a wise use of your social media and will certainly help you to stay motivated in your journey, as you will be able to appreciate just how meaningful your ‘little’ steps really are.

I buy a lot of loose, waste-free products at this store in Edinburgh | (c) Clara del Rey 

I buy a lot of loose, waste-free products at this store in Edinburgh | (c) Clara del Rey

If you want to start today, I encourage you to join the latest waste-free challenge: Plastic-free July, a challenge born in 2011 in Australia that has now become tremendously famous and turned itself into a national event down under and beyond.


Have a look into their website and Facebook page for more tricks and ideas. I wish you the best of luck and thank you dearly for lending me some of your time these last few weeks! Clara


Clara del Rey, the winner of the travel well MAGAZINE's #WasteNot 30-day challenge , was invited to share her favorite ideas on reducing trash. Clara, a Spanish native, taught in St. Joseph, Missouri (USA), and is now living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Not only does she know both the U.S. and the European perspective on sustainability, but her ideas are creative, unconventional, and yet easy to follow.She is conviced: "I truly think being environmentally conscious starts with reducing your consumption of resources and products. Sometimes I stop, reflect upon people's frantic consumption habits and just think to myself: we are all addicts, in a way, having to buy compulsively insane amounts of disposable, poor quality 'goods'. It makes me wonder how we are losing the ability to create things with our hands or imagination—simple things such as cooking, growing greens and vegetables, or sewing a button. I refuse to represent this mindset."