Our Zero Waste Challenge: In conversation with Anneliese Bunk

Anneliese Bunk grew up in a self-sufficient household near Augsburg. When she moved from the country to the city, she put her green life on hold. Eight years ago, the film "Plastic Planet" radically turned her life upside down. She quickly came to the conclusion: "Nobody has to buy plastic, you just have to know the alternatives." Avoiding plastic became her new mission in life. Her first book "Besser leben ohne Plastik" (Living better without plastic) made it into the top 20 of the Spiegel bestseller list in July 2016.

Since 2014, she has successfully marketed the Naturtasche, the "first" bag for packaging-free shopping. Today, the environmentalist lives with her family in Munich, loves the mountains, grows herbs and vegetables on the balcony of her city flat and loves to cook for her family and guests. The Spiegel bestselling author is a regular guest on renowned radio and television programmes and a sought-after speaker.

How important is climate protection for your life?

It determines my life every day. Since we live almost waste-free, we try to continuously reduce our footprint. We eat 80% seasonally, only cycle in the city, save energy wherever possible and buy used whenever possible. 

You have a shop for natural bags - How did it come about?

I decided in 2013 not to buy anything in plastic anymore. My calculations to replace plastic with paper showed that paper has less impact on the environment, but still has a very large footprint. The first natural bag was sewn just for our family. The idea was very well received in the shops and soon professional production started. The 'naturtasche' was the first bag for packaging-free shopping on the market at the beginning of 2014. 

Quelle: Anneliese Bunk

You have also written a guidebook: "Living better without plastic". Can you summarise the quintessence for our readers in a few words?

The book briefly explains how you can reduce your plastic waste step by step in all areas of your life. It also explains the negative effects of plastic on the environment and health.

Why is plastic such an important issue for you?

The consequences of our packaging madness for the environment and health were hardly known in 2014. My main concern was to raise awareness of the issue. When many people become active on the same topic, it becomes political more quickly. That is exactly what happened. Today, there are 10 times more discussions on plastic in the German government han in 2014. 

Have you managed to ban plastic completely from your life?

No, without phones and computers my life would be too exhausting. I often wonder about bloggers who get by with a jar full of rubbish per year. I imagine that is terribly exhausting in a family. We have reduced our plastic waste to about 500g per head instead of 39kg per year. That's easy and means we don't have to do without anything.

Why do you think people have such a hard time giving up plastic?

It's all down to habits. 85% of our actions are based on habits. We are used to buying plastic crisps, washing powder and clothes. If we don't eat chips for 3 months and have found a tasty alternative, we won't miss them anymore. Promise.

What is your personal tip for reducing waste?

We only buy what we really need. We only buy food in unpacked shops, organic shops and at the weekly market. In the bathroom we have switched to "solid" products. We make our own cleaning products with simple recipes. With these few changes, there is hardly any residual waste left.

Dear Anneliese, thank you very much for the interview and for sharing your life with less plastic. It is always motivating to read that it doesn't always have to be perfect, that the jars filled with rubbish are the exception rather than the rule and that we humans can change or, let's say, change our habits if we want to. It's simply up to us, anything is possible - even getting by with 500g of plastic waste per person: My plastic waste, which I carry downstairs every day, is much more than that... So it's time for me to adapt bit by bit to my own personal ideal. Do you, dear reader, also have an ideal image that you are still a bit removed from? Then let's change one or two habits together :-)

Furthermore, we are very happy that you support the Climate Bet with your sustainability talks for companies and associations, whereby 100% of the talks fee is donated to the Climate Bet.

Quelle: Anneliese Bunk

Your Pia & Andrea

For all of you who don't know much about the Climate Bet yet: We want to win 1 million people by the next climate negotiations in Glasgow this autumn who will raise their voices with us for better climate protection. With one ton of CO2bsaved in real terms (worth 25 euros), you're in! Because we want to show: Climate protection is really important to us! Whether at home, on the streets or in Glasgow. Join us and celebrate a good climate-friendly life!