24 things that changed in our household in 2018

The idea for this post actually came from Markus. His idea was to post the individual points as an advents calendar, one item each day. I sadly did not manage writing this up in time, but I had written down some notes and so I thought I’d finish this nevertheless.

Since quite a while we are on a Zero Waste trip. This is a huge scene of people who try to minimize their waste. r/zerowaste is a fitting subreddit, but there are also a lot of books, talks, ….

These are 24 things which changed in 2018 in our household as part of our zero waste effort.

  1. Using napkins out of textile — so much less waste, so much nicer. Can be easily washed and reused.
  2. Cotton handkerchiefs instead of Tempos. Same as above.
  3. Buying groceries in very large packs (e.g. 10l oil canisters, 2.5 kg nuts, etc.).
  4. Shop regularly in one of Berlin’s supermarkets which don’t generate waste (by selling only unpackaged groceries). The Original Unverpackt is Germanys first supermarket like this and in Kreuzberg, it’s the one we frequent most often. The difference is really astonishing, for example we now always have a large bottle of dish soap at home and fill it up there whenever needed. The canister which they have in the supermarket is refilled directly by the manufacturer.
  5. Bring own bags along to the bakery, market, supermarket, etc..
  6. Use chestnuts for washing. This works surprisingly well. During autumn we collected some kilos of chestnuts which had fallen from trees. There are a number of blog posts and videos online on how to use them. They can be dried and stored for usage in the coming months.
  7. Use plastic bags which you received unwillingly (e.g. the ones in which packets sometimes are wrapped) as waste bags.
  8. Process vegetable leftovers into a soup (works really well with e.g. brocoli stems).
  9. Instead of gift wrapping paper you can easily reuse e.g. paper bags, comics, or city maps.
  10. Grow our own herbs. Thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, chives, basil, arugula, ….
  11. Shower soap instead of shower gel.
  12. Cling film is this roll of thin plastic which is typically used to wrap food as a mean of keeping it fresh. Bee’s wrap out of wax cloth can be used instead and easily washed/re-used.
  13. Use textile leftovers instead of Cewa.
  14. Drink tap water instead of water from plastic bottles. We handed a bottle of our tap water in to the Berlin Water office for analysis. The water quality in the city pipes is extremely good, the thing is that the last meters in a house are not controlled. So with Berlin’s old buildings it’s unclear how the quality is (and if there are any lead pipes on the way to your tap). The analysis only costs a few euros and is even free in some cases.
  15. Giving away stuff. Some stuff we sold and some stuff we donated. Some other things we put in front of our flat with a “Give Away” sign. I guess it’s typical for Berlin that everything was taken, most of the stuff even in under one hour.
  16. Sew clothes that you no longer like into something else — e.g. napkins or a different clothing item.
  17. Congratulation cards from old photos. This was something that worked out really well. We had a lot of photos that we had gotten printed out (or developed) at some point. Many of these could easily be transformed into a congratulation/greetings card.
  18. Use bamboo toothbrushes which are biodegradable.
  19. Use a metal razor with an exchangeable single razor blade instead of the fancy plastic ones which go bad quite fast.
  20. Donate books and buy new ones from a book donation center. In Berlin there are a lot of them, “Berliner BĂ¼chertisch” in Kreuzberg is our favorite one.
  21. In the summer an Iso-bottle can be used for having cool water wherever you go.
  22. Instead of buying finished products we started doing some stuff by ourselves: chili garlic oil, granola, compote, burger buns, rice milk, ….
  23. If you just squeezed a bio lemon and are about to throw it away: you can rub off the zest and freeze it. This can later be used everywhere where you need lemon zest (baking, etc.). So you don’t need to buy a dedicated package of lemon zest.
  24. The thing that I had most fun with was to take out every food item that we have in the flat and place it on the floor. We then went through everything and sorted it back in properly. This really helped in gaining awareness of what is actually there and what needs to be used up soon.

Category: Life itself


2 Responses

  1. Meillo says:


    thanks a lot for this blog post. I’ve been awaiting it since weeks. đŸ˜‰ Nice that you packed it into 24 items still.

    Lydi asked me how you get the chestnut pieces out of the clothes after washing. Could you explain that a bit more, please.

  2. Michi says:

    Hi Meillo,

    thanks for the comment!

    This blog post: http://www.dariadaria-archiv.com/2016/09/kastanienwaschmittel.html has more details and a guide. The idea basically is to shred the chestnuts and let them soak in warm water during the night. You then run everything through a sieve and just use the water for washing — so the whole process is very hassle-free :-).

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I am a 32 year old techno-creative enthusiast who lives and works in Berlin. In a previous life I studied computer science (more specifically Media Informatics) at the Ulm University in Germany.

I care about exploring ideas and developing new things. I like creating great stuff that I am passionate about.


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