Monday, April 21, 2008

earth day week: shopping bags

One of the things I really love and admire about Germany is that Germany really loves and admires nature. When I realized that Earth Day was this week, I decided to devote the week on my blog to featuring this country's love for its environment and the little things Germany has integrated into its culture to preserve it and enjoy it.

And I do want to emphasis that these things I'll be posting about in the next few days really are a part of the culture. One thing that kinda annoys me about my native land is the way the United States tends to treat pro-environmental actions as "trendy" or only for "hippies." In Germany, the care for the environment is a given, and it a part of the common outlook and culture of its people. Germany has a deep respect for the environment that they are especially known for...even in Europe where most countries are much more environmental conscience than the United States tends to be. And it's that love of nature in this culture that I'd like to share with you this week.

So, let me introduce to you...the shopping bag!

In Germany, when you go grocery shopping, you are not only expected to bag your groceries yourself, but you are also expected to provide your own bags. So when you're at the store you'll see customers putting their groceries in tote bags, in wicker baskets, in plastic bins...or carrying all their food out to their car in the cart and loading up their groceries in the bags and baskets and bins waiting in the trunk.

If you don't bring your own bags, then the store will have some big plastic or fabric bags that you can buy. But buying bag after bag after a while will really start getting you into the habit of bringing your own. And here are mine:

I went shopping this afternoon and here's my load! These tall pretty bag and pink basket are our standard grocery bags. We keep them in the trunk of our car. And after I bring up the groceries and put them away, I put the bag and basket on a stool next to our front door and the next time one of us heads out we stick them back in the trunk of the car. Easy peasy!

I have other bags, too!

This is my pretty green bag I got in Paris. I like to carry this one when I'm just doing a little shopping in town...out to browse through the bookstore, pick out some treats at the bakery, or check out this week's newest at Tchibo and then I can slip whatever I buy in the one pretty bag and not carry a million plastic bags around. I also like to bring this bag with me when I'm going to Karlsruhe for the afternoon and I want to carry a water bottle and a book to read on the train with me.

This is my other pretty bag. This one holds lots and I usually use it to carry packages to the post office or if I need more bag space when I'm doing my shopping.

And this is my little compact pocket bag. I carry this one in my purse so that when I need a bag and I don't have one of my big pretty ones with me, I can pull out this one, unfold it out of it's little case (which then clips to a loop on the bag) and viola! A handy bag anytime I need it!

I really really like being able to carry my purchases in such pretty reuseable bags. And not having countless plastic store bags floating around the house. And bags like these are very much the norm here in Germany. When you walk through the city center you see Omas carry their wicker baskets filled with bakery goodies and moms with their totes of groceries and men with their plastic baskets filled with beer bottles. It's a good thing.


Rachel said...

This is an awesome post! I agree with you all the way and love your observation about the wicker baskets, it's a wonderful thing to see on the streets of Germany. You describe it all so beautifully, too!

hikebikekayak said...

I agree with your sentiments on it being the "trendy" or "hippy" thing to do in the US. We've always been years behind the European nations on a multitude of things. Blogs like this inspire me just a little bit more every time I read them.

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