Zero waste – a world with no rubbish at all! While this is still a vision of the future, various initiatives are already in place and many people are working to help turn this into reality. Please read the following guidelines before entering or adding information into the Zero Waste Map.

What do the categories mean?

Packaging-free shops, packaging-free departments or neither – sometimes the decision is just not that easy, which is why we have introduced the following guidelines! We use these principles to assess whether a location belongs on the Zero Waste Map or not.

Packaging-free shops

Genuine packaging-free shops already exist in numerous towns and cities – and more and more are popping up! Key feature: The company avoids virtually all non-reusable packaging and allows anyone to fill their own containers with loose goods, provided they are suitable. Bringing your own containers is highly preferable. Non-reusable packaging, particularly plastic bags and the like, is specifically avoided or is only used for reasons of hygiene or where there is no other option due to regulatory requirements.

Packaging-free department

If a shop only offers goods under the packaging-free shop guidelines in certain departments, this is a “packaging-free department” shop. The same principles apply: Non-reusable packaging is avoided wherever possible and people are required to bring their own containers. Many of the German Bio Company supermarkets adopt this principle, for example, allowing you to shop partly “packaging-free”.

Standard supermarkets where fruit and vegetables are sold loose, but the usual non-reusable plastic bags are used as packaging, for example, do not fall into this category.

Food sharing points

The foodsharing initiative has given rise to “food sharing points”, which are essentially publicly accessible fridges/cupboards or other suitable places where people can share or receive food that is no longer needed, but still edible. A clear signal and an effective method of preventing food waste as well as the related rubbish!

Food assembly

Food assemblies serve as a direct link for producers and consumers of fresh, regional produce. Fresh fruit and vegetables etc. direct from the farmers – even in major cities. Through the
food assembly
initiative, anyone can form their own food assembly and thus provide more sustainable food in their own area.

Wild herb tour

A guided wild herb walk is a chance for people to be able to identify and collect edible, healthy or otherwise usable wild herbs and plants. Various providers, often private individuals, run tours for anyone interested and help them to rediscover their own “edible” environment. The principles of conservation are the focus here.


The concept of giving unwanted items to others for free instead of throwing them away is what forms the basis of the give box. Anybody can organise, set up and run a give box at a suitable location in their own area.

For-free shops

For-free shops/giveaway shops are also based on a similar principle to the give boxes. The shops mainly work on a donation basis and enable free items to be shared that would otherwise have ended up in the bin.

Garden share

Seeds, plants and vegetables without your own garden? That’s what garden share is all about! Commercial suppliers and garden owners provide plots for a small fee. This gives more people the opportunity to grow their own regional food without the packaging waste. Another advantage of this is that if your own garden is too big or you don’t have time to do anything with it yourself, the area doesn’t go to waste – but instead can be used by others to grow regional produce.

Repair café

More and more repair cafés are popping up – a place where people can meet up to fix things together. The idea came about on the premise that it’s rarely worth getting electronic devices and many other things repaired these days. Instead of throwing it away and buying a new one, you can take it to one of the many repair cafés and have it repaired for free by enthusiasts and specialists. People who don’t have anything to repair themselves can still bring in their knowledge and skills and enjoy an interesting chat over coffee and cake.

Borrowing shop

Ladders, drills and hand carts: These are all things you might need at some point but only every now and again, which is why it’s actually a shame that every one of us has numerous items like this that just lay around unused and taking up space most of the time. Borrowing shops offer an alternative to this – a place where everyday items can be borrowed for free or a small charge and their use shared.

Book exchanges

What to do with unwanted books… One useful way of passing them on for free is to use a book exchange box! These publicly accessible bookcases, intended for the free exchange of books, come in various forms: a re-purposed telephone box, weatherproof kitchen cupboard or similar housing make a perfect spot.

Milk-filling stations

An increasing number of milk-filling stations are emerging, offering fresh milk produced by small, regional suppliers without packaging waste. They function like a vending machine, where you can fill up suitable reusable containers with milk yourself. Hensing GmbH also operates its own map, which highlights all of its milk-filling stations.

Sustainability events

Sustainability fairs, do-it-yourself festivals and more – people everywhere are coming together at public events to promote and exchange ideas on greater sustainability and the responsible use of resources. Note: Before registering an event, please contact us first at [email protected] to find out whether it is suitable for the map. This category is still quite vague and we still need to determine how we will keep the information at the fore without it becoming used primarily for advertising purposes.