After watching the One Show on the BBC while I was in Ireland, I had decided to attempt to reduce my own plastic intake. Trying to have a plastic free and zero waste day once a week. This was the goal. Kind of like Meat Free Monday but it was Wednesday instead. This was an experiment and an education for myself.

To do waste-free, I’d start with food. I knew we had a local farmer’s market in the vicinity which I often brought my own cloth bags or wicker basket not to use plastic bags. So the idea of going zero waste or waste free isn’t a foreign concept to me.

Starting with just doing food shopping would be the first step of some kind of initial plan. But I discovered the journey wasn’t going to be easy with some quirks and big surprises along the way. All of which I was about to find out!

So usually for breakfast, I drink coffee and eat porridge. Oatmeal is a miracle food which contains everything you need from 7am until your stomach says at 11 am feed me soon….

Coffee and Oatmeal were two tasks and the additional task of fish for dinner with the farmer’s market veggies I had purchased on Tuesday.

I needed coffee!

An easy enough goal was just to go where they roast their own beans. In Graz there are a few awesome places which roast, I choose Buna.

I had an iced coffee first to energise myself with the tasks at hand. I brought along in my cloth bag my stainless steel airtight container for my coffee. The owner happily filled it and gave me a 50 cent discount!

I was delighted and the coffee is supreme.

Buna, Graz - © Buna, Graz
©Buna, Graz

‘Nordsee for the Fish’

In German they say, “it is for the fish”, meaning it’s pointless. This would be my experience with waste-free at Nordsee.

To begin, I thought to myself, I enjoy fish as I come from an island. Having purchased Salmon steaks on a previous occasion from the store in Graz’s Herrengasse which is the main street of Graz. I thought, “Well, it shouldn’t be a problem to bring my own glass container.” How wrong I was!

Wishing to avoid the need to use any paper or plastic wrapping. With my hard earned money in my hand on offer, I was to discover there wasn’t going to be a sale. Unless I accepted the wrapping. I had come for fish, they wouldn’t let me have it unless I took their compulsory wrapping paper with plastic. Totally bewildered by Nordsee as I had came prepared with a sturdy sparkling clean glass container with a robust airtight lid. If the fish was going to leak it would be my fault, I mean I had thought of that. But Nordsee wasn’t convinced, I said I couldn’t accept the paper plastic wrapping.

I decided to vent my disappointment by email to their company. Later that afternoon a reply came back.

In the meantime,

I had solved the rather simple problem by using my feet. I peddled my bike to another store I had heard from Karl Voit. These guys had a great range of fish and were customer friendly.

Sofisch in Graz had no problem with my glass container and I had no problem handing the cash over. I mean, isn’t that how it works or am I missing something here.

The fish arrived home perfectly without issue. I had one more task to complete while I waited for a response to my email to Nordsee.

Oatmeal

Bioladen, Graz
Bioladen, Graz

Off to Bioladen in Graz, just to drop in and check it out.

Folks at Bioladen weighted my glass Ikea jar which I keep the daily oats in. Then I proceed to fill it. The grand total of two euros. This would feed two people a large portion of porridge for 10 days along with the health benefits I was set.

Oatmeal in my cloth bag
Oatmeal in my cloth bag

Returning home thinking what the heck. Three simple foods…

Nordsee’s Response

Translation below

Sehr geehrter Herr Gavin Lyons,

haben Sie vielen Dank für Ihr Mail vom 25.04.18.

Bitte erlauben Sie uns zu betonen, dass für uns neben der Qualität unserer Produkte die Servicekompetenz oberstes Gebot ist. Dies gilt für alle unsere Mitarbeiter in allen unseren Geschäften.

Selbstverständlich haben wir Ihr Anliegen sofort an unsere Filiale weitergleitet, Wir müssen Ihnen jedoch mitteilen, dass in diesem Fall unser Mitarbeiter nach internen Vorgaben korrekt gehandelt hat.

Leider dürfen wir keine Ware in mitgebrachtem Geschirr befüllen

Translation (Google Translate)

Please allow us to emphasize that, in addition to the quality of our products, service expertise is the top priority. This applies to all our employees in all our businesses.

Of course, we have forwarded your request immediately to our branch, but we have to inform you that in this case our employee has acted correctly according to internal guidelines.

Unfortunately, we are not allowed to fill any goods in your own dishes

So you get the gist of it! Well, I solved the problem by going somewhere else. Maybe Nordsee changes their policies but at very least they should consider our oceans and the earth. They seem not to care but rather allow compulsory packaging which can’t be truly recycled, only to be left in some form to pollute the planet. If they care not maybe they’d consider the customer’s wishes.

Finally

Plastic kills fish and contaminates our food chain. It’s impossible to avoid plastic in our daily lives. However, that shouldn’t deter us or make us apathetic. Refusing plastic is the best step and signals to retailers that many customers want a change. I’ll leave you with the quote everyone knows but somehow seems even more suitable for a planet which is so polluted by plastic.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

April 30, 2018

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