Wednesday, 22 June 2022
Traditional corner stores in general have been almost extinguished from the streets of Munich, surviving almost exclusively in the form of immigrant grocery stores which unfortunately only on extremely rare occasions stock organic items. However, there are a few survivers from the time when organic was an unknown word in supermarket chains: small supermarkets equipped with wooden shelves and as crammed to the brim as possible for orderly German souls. Usually they have everything on offer needed for your daily life, and just give you fewer choice between brands. Sometimes you'll find delicatessen the big players don't stock, and fresh produce with few exceptions is as fresh as from their competitors. Prices may be a few cents higher than the cheapest option in one of the retail chains, but you may be surprised to learn that many products actually are less expensive in a corner shop. In addition you may have a chat with the shop owners and usually will be given a competent answer to questions you may have. Many of these shops have some tables and chairs where you can have a coffee, snack or vegetarian lunch.
In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available). If you find the place too busy step by the zero-waste grocery Ohne which also offers fully organic lunch. Mother Earth is still a little organic grocery, but no longer a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.
A full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen, Lebascha once was run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. They retired, and from 9th of July, 2022 (following a week closed for refurbishment) the shop will be the second shop of the community supported co-operative Ökoesel ("eco donkey"). Unlike their shop in Neuhausen Lebascha will continue to be open for everyone, with its (conventional) liquorice shop-in-shop, and an assortment of loose-weight herbs and spices, cereals, nuts, legumes and grains, detergents and soap. Note that the shop will be closed on Wednesdays and discontinue to accept cards.
A few corners away from tube stop Implerstraße in Sendling the neighbourhood grocery Hollerbusch ("elderbush") offers
vegan and vegetarian lunch as well as yoga, pilates or singing lessons in a backroom.
The shop is also a delivery hub for the Munich based community supported agriculture project Kartoffelkombinat.
Immigrant shops and traditional corner stores
While these small supermarkets cater for all daily necessities including fresh fruits and veges there's no such thing as an all-organic immigrant grocery focussing on the latter and supplementing with a selection of dry goods and delicatessen from their owner's place of birth. The nearest you come is Giesinger Fruchtmarkt near tube-stop Kolumbusplatz. As about three quarters of the fruits and veges as well as most of the Italian delicatessen are conventional you have to carefully watch out for the bio keyword. Apart from organic greens they also offer organic choices for olive oil, wine, pasta and cheese.
A similar owner-run mini market, Varieta am Körner Eck, is located in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, on Auenstraße between the Reichenbach and the Cornelius bridges. The bakery items are all organic, and organic products in the self-service area are clearly marked "bio" on the shelf. The shop offers a lot of directly imported Italian dry food, but unfortunately none of it in organic quality. Also most of the fresh fruits and veges are conventionally produced.
Remember the tales of parents or grandparents about the corner shop they went to as children to buy a single sweet which the shop keeper would put down on a list for their parents to pay later on when they came to shop bread, milk, veges and all the ingredients for the home-cooked meal? The spirit of these shops from the past you may find left in some immigrant shops and this is the reason why I list the Viktualieneck in Bogenhausen in this section. I learned about this crammed greengrocer's shop opposing the newly build neighbourhood of Prinz-Eugen-Park on my quest for shops supporting package-free shopping, but when I went there it turned out a likeable traditional supermarket offering
fresh fruits and veges, regional delicatessen, bread and rolls, wine and all kinds of food. About half of it is organic, namely all the bakery products and certainly more than half of the pre-packaged food. Most of the fresh fruits and veges come from a conventional local market garden
– the turnaround for organic greens wasn't good enough among his customers, and his emphasis was on avoiding waste the shop keeper told me. Package-free shopping is possible for all fruits and veges as well as all items from the bakery, meat and cheese counter.
I cannot tell you whether the shop chalks up for trustworthy customers, but if you are in the vicinity support this shop instead of the supermarket chains nearby.
The upmarket contrast to these somewhat shabby grocery stores is naturally to be found in the posh neighbourhood of the Lehel:
Studio Hindiba offers oils, herbs and condiments, olives, all types of rice, the famed ferments of Berlin's Markus Shimizu, a carefully selected range of wines and other predominantly organic delicatessen. For the smaller purse it may be just a beautyful shop to marvel at, but if your budget isn't painfully tight it's the perfect place to shop a foodie gift for someone special.
A few steps from Wiener Platz you'll find Steinbeißer, a cosy owner-driven deli advertising 'regional specialities'. Take this with a grain of salt – the organic Italian olive oil and Scandinavian candies (not organic) are small-scale produce specific to their region of origin, but certainly not from the greater Munich area. Most meat products come from small-scale Austrian farms which are likely to produce according to near-organic principles. Certified organic products unfortunately do not dominate the pleasantly arranged tables and shelves with artisanal products – predominantly foodstuffs and wine, but you may ask the owner about the provenance of his fare.
Wine, pepper and coffee from carefully selected small-scale producers, that's the focus of Grenzgänger ("border crosser"), a lovely shop directly located at the beautiful Bordeaux-Platz in Haidhausen, just opposite Café Reichshof. When you come here during the cold season you may find yourself welcomed by the warmth of a fireplace, and you can get a speciality coffee (14 types of Arabica to choose from) into your own mug. During covid-19 restrictions cream-ware cups aren't provided, so if you come without a mug you will be charged an extra 20 cent for a plastics-free one-way cup.
Unfortunately most of the products aren't certified organic, with the notable exception of the Demeter-certified honey and bee wax candles of a local beekeeper who is working in accordance with biodynamic principles, i.e. the gold standard for animal welfare.
Specializing in cheese and supplements – wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few – the Luigino's booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße is the perfect place to shop for a picnic or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of artisanal, yet conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses.
When ordering an Italian-style sandwich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products usually are not organic.
The owner once run a delicatessen in Maxvorstand which was replaced by an organic ice-cream parlour in 2018.
Herbs and spices
Not exactly a spice bazaar, but a pleasant spice and herbs shop Gewürze der Welt ("spices of the world") had a long tradition on its former location in Thiereckstraße in the very city centre, but when the historic Ruffini house re-opened after a two-year period of restoration work in 2020, the shop moved back to its roots in the Sendlinger Straße (now) pedestrian area. As the name suggests you will find a world of spices, herbs, blends and condiments, a notable part of them in organic quality.
Munich's first organically certified herbalist is tucked away in a non-descript side road near Sendlinger-Tor-Platz, just a few steps aside the remnants of the Glockenbach neighbourhood's famous queer bars. Light and friendly the
Kräutergarten offers all kinds of organic dried herbs, spices, natural cosmetics and the like.
Sonnentor, the leading Austrian producer of organic herbs and spices, has a shop in Munich, too: Located in the basement of
Stachus-Passagen, a generally boring shopping mall a level above this central urban train and tube station, it's probably not the shop that you'll find by accident while taking a stroll through the city. Apart from herbs, spices and condiments they also have a selection of natural body care – an easy place to shop for a nice last-minute give-away.
The only operating corn mill in Munich with its cosy mill shop is located in a small street a few steps from the tourist hotspots of Marienplatz and Hofbräuhaus. The Hofbräuhaus-Kunstmühle offers all types of flour, bruised grains, semolina, bran and cereals, predominantly of corn grown in the region. An increasing number of these artisanal products are organic, so watch out for the 'bio' keyword on the classic paper bags or the listings of the web shop. These products are also the base ingredients for the artisanal home bakery E. Knapp & R. Wenig next door where you can buy hand-made bread and rolls based on traditional, predominantly Munich recipes. The mill shop also stocks a selection of organic dried fruit, olive oil, raising agents and other baking ingredients as well as dry breads like South-Tyrolean Schüttelbrot.
Another very special mono-themed shop, Hanf – der etwas andere Bioladen, sells everything containing THC-free hemp: beer, lemonades, cookies, bars, tea, ice-cream, chocolates, body care, clothes, liquids, pet food and more. Although the name suggests it not all products are certified organic, especially not in the non-food range, but the sheer number of goods based on this versatile plant is quite impressive. The main shop (which is closed on Mondays) isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. But wait: in 2019 a second one opened at a tourist-friendly location between Isartor and Marienplatz.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
[Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Lehel, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan, hemp, flour, mills, fashion, bodycare, spices, herbs, delicatessen, eatery, corona, covid]
Monday, 13 June 2022
Dresden's Wilhelminian neighbourhood of Neustadt is dominated by independent shops and venues, many of them run by female entrepreneurs as recently documented by an art project of local photographer Christine Starke. So it comes as little surprise that it is here where you have the best chance to discover a lot of gems, driven in accordance with the personal principles of the shop keeper which often include social and environmental aspects. Keep your eyes open, and you will discover a lot more than I have to suggest here.
Herbalists and beauty
The old town does not have much to offer in terms of independent and surprising shops, and the Altmarkt-Galerie mall is as boring as these shopping centres usually are. A notable exception is the Sonnentor shop directly located at the mall's entrance at Postplatz, next to the tram-stop at Wallstraße. Franchises of this Austrian producer of organic and fairly traded herbs, teas, condiments, bodycare products and spices are usually located in malls or main shopping areas, neatly designed heavens offering products that are good for both, you, and the farmers and producers involved when you're in the mood for shopping.
If you're on the outlook for herbs, remedies, bodycare and food items based on ingredients described by medieval healer nun Hildegard of Bingen pay a visit to the Marone herbalist shop on Bautzner Landstraße directly located at the east-bound tram stop Pulsnitzer Straße. Not all of the products on sale (which among others include chestnut products and a small selection of biodynamic wine) in this small specialist shop are certified organic though.
Leaving the tram tracks and entering the more pedestrian-friendly quartier natural and organic bodycare products can be found at the
Touch of Nature beauty parlour cum shop in Böhmische Straße east of Rothenburger Straße. Note that this shop is
closed on weekends.
If you take a little detour into Rothenburger Straße -- near the crossing with Bautzner Straße you'll find O'Shea, the factory outlet of a small local manufacturer of vegan natural lip care. But it's more than that: In addition to their own products the shop sells and nicely presents natural body care products of other small-scale producers who use organic and fairly traded ingredients. A real gem to discover new products!
For Indian-style and ayurvedic tea, chai mixtures or herbal teas head for the Indian Shop next to the organic fashion boutique Populi described further down. Unfortunately this owner-driven Indian convenience store isn't generally organic.
A few steps from Touch of Nature there's a second hand bicycle shop cum workshop, Elbcycles, where you can buy a used or recycled bike if you're staying longer, or get your own one fixed.
If you follow Böhmische Straße until it ends at Alaunstraße. A
luminous blue wall indicates the location of the Geldschneider & Co. steam-punk workshop. Among others you will find beautiful jewellery made from recycled parts of abandoned analog wrist watches. The place has somewhat erratic opening hours, so step by when nearby (if you need to plan ahead: Saturdays seem a safe bet). If closed during regular German shop opening hours you may call the phone number given on the entrance door.
As in many other German cities the first address for colourful gifts as well as organic sweets, spices and condiments are fair-trade shops founded as grassroots activities by Christian parish members in accordance with the conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). As the host for pioneering regional ecumenical plenums in 1989 and 1990 the city of Dresden has been playing an important role in this process. The spirit of this movement lives on in local fair trade initiatives like Quilombo which for almost 25 years had run a fair-trade shop in the entrance area of Dreikönigskirche in Hauptstraße which played host to the first democratically elected local parliament in Saxony after East Germany's peaceful implosion in 1989. Today the initiative still has a shop in the neighbourhood of Löbtau while their former place in the "Haus der Kirche" ("house of the church") has been converted into fair-trade
Sharing their roots with the Quilombo NGO the team of
Cafe Aha opposite Kreuzkirche runs a fair-trade shop in the heart of the city. It is located in the basement of the cafe and offers an impressive selection of fairly-traded gifts, body care and dry goods. This initiative also runs a fair-trade ...
... boutique, Aha Naturtextilien, on Hauptstraße, offering a great selection of fairly traded fashion made from natural materials. Here you will also find a good selection of stationary, jewellery, eatable fair-trade goods and more. By the way: the name "Aha" is an abbreviation for "trade/act differently" ("anders handeln" in German), and implies a huge effort in not only selling fairly traded goods but offering fair conditions to their own employees.
Another centrally located fair-trade shop specializing in fashion and household accessories as well as coffee and chocolates is Contigo near the central train station.
For more ethically produced and sustainable cocooning items visit Tranquillo, a likewise colourful fashion-and-things boutique cum fashion label in the Neustadt neighbourhood, at the crossroad Louisenstraße/Rothenburger Straße. They produce their own women fashion entirely made from organic textiles focussing on basic colours -- if you like Aha Naturtextilien don't miss this one. There's also an outlet in Louisenstraße where you can find bargain buys and (even further west, behind the Äußere Neustadt) a sustainable furniture store which opens on Fridays and Saturdays only.
Dresden's first fashion boutique exclusively selling fairly produced clothing from fairly traded, organically grown materials is dubbed
can be found at the Western end of Louisenstraße, just before you reach the tram tracks of Königsbrücker Landstraße.
Both, streetware, denim and designer labels can be found here, for men and women. The interior of the shop is to a great deal made from upcycled furniture.
Students and nerds find fairly traded organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters with unique scientific prints at Unipolar, and everyone else organic streetware for both, men and women, aside fairly traded and sustainably produced accessories and kitchen items. This small, Dresden-based fashion label is the brain-child of a former physics student, and has two outlets (in addition to the on-line shop). The original store is located between the Bahnhof Mitte train station and the "Carl Maria von Weber" College of Music, next to the VG warehouse with its well-assorted organic fashion section upstairs. The second Unipolar shop is located in the Neustadt neighbourhood and can easily be found by spotting a bath tub opposite a tram stop in Rothenburger Straße. Note that both Unipolar stores are closed on Mondays.
Ever fancied a nice custom-tailored dress, blouse, skirt or shirt made from natural materials? On Bautzner Straße at tram stop Pulsnitzer Str. gentlemen's tailor Hüpenthal and ladies' tailor Naumann share a shop formerly known as "Mein schönes Kleid" where they sew pret-a-porter items as well as custom orders from linen, silk, cotton and wool, both evening and casual dresses.
Some of the linen is even woven in the greater vicinity of Dresden, in the region of Niederlausitz near the border to Poland.
If you take the opportunity to hear a classical concert in Dresden chances are high to meet musicians wearing shirts by Herr Hüpenthal which, although custom-made are recognisable by their unique signature collars. Prices for men shirts start approximately at well invested 175 EUR, and cards are not accepted. The opening hours listed below usually apply but since the shop also serves as workshop you may be lucky enough to find one of the tailors at work on Mondays and Saturday afternoons, too.
Babies and toddlers
If you have a crush on individually made upcycled fashion accessories pay a visit to Ex Animo at Martin-Luther-Platz. The shop specializes in clothes and accessories for babies, toddlers and younger children, but you will find nice gifts for grown-ups (like cigarette wallets), too. Also this shop is closed on Mondays.
Those on the look-out for beautiful, not overly sweet organic fashion for toddlers and smaller children should step by Elvida in Louisenstraße approximately opposite Planwirtschaft pub and cafe. There you'll find the small flagship store of a Dresden-based sustainable kids fashion label -- and a source for organic sewing things.
Sustainable toys can be found further west at LouisdoOr, just opposite of Populi. This charming, owner-run shop also sells organic clothing for babies and toddlers. The somewhat erratic opening hours allow the owner to take out her dog, so when the door is closed during regular working hours take a look at the shops nearby and come back a little later.
The following places shut down, so don't be mislead when you find references to them on the web:
[Dresden, Neustadt, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, shoes, spices, tea, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, steampunk, bodycare, furniture, household, children, toys, Indian, covid, corona]
Sunday, 12 June 2022
Those with a sweet tooth may feel in heaven when coming to the comparatively ugly urban sprawl which comprises the municipality of Selvazzano Dentro south-west of Padua and north of Abano Terme: In the neighbourhoods of San Domenico and Tencarola, devided by the crossing of the river Bacchiglione you will find a confectioner's shop cum day bar, an ice-cream parlour and finally a supermarket serving customers preferring organic food and delights.
When entering the municipality from the west following Via Euganea your first stop should be at a roundabout with
an Italian day bar cum Viennese-style cafe cum confectioner's shop where the main ingredients are organic.
At Pasticceria Da Angelo you will find organic and vegan options clearly marked, and the friendly staff will proudly and often even unasked point out what's organic. If you don't feel like a delicate ice-cream or a gorgeous pastry along with an organic coffee drink (with organic soy milk if you prefer) have
a tramezzino sandwich or toast together with a freshly made organic smoothie, or an organic soft drink. Vegan sandwich options are readily available, with organic "cold cuts", while the meat items on non-veg versions usually aren't organic. A serving of ice-cream comes at 1.40 EUR, with each additional scoop for 1.10 EUR. Vegan varieties aren't restricted to fruit flavours, you can also choose among a number of flavours made with rice or almond drink. Buy a bag of organic cookies to take home if you like, and if you're lucky there may be an organic lunch, dinner or ice-cream special during your stay. Advanced booking by phone is required for such an event.
Not enough ice-cream or arriving after half past nine in the evening? Well, you can be helped.
Gelateria Soleluna a few meters east opposite Hotel Piroga uses more than 80 percent organic, and predominantly locally sourced ingredients for their granite, gelati, and ice cakes. A delight not to be missed,
one ice-cream scoop goes for 1.40 EUR, each additional one adds approximately 1 EUR to your bill. Personally I prefer the delicate, creamy dairy flavours to the vegan fruit-based ones. The granite are available in two sizes, for 2.80 or 3.50 EUR – the refreshing lime-mint or coffee varieties will get you going in a minute on a warm summer day. Unfortunately the granite are served in one-way plastics cups, each with one-way teaspoon and straw, so you will produce a lot of waste.
On bank holidays the shop keeps open as on Sundays.
To buy everything you need organic, from fruit and veges over dairy products and vegan alternatives to dry food, natural cosmetics, the forgotten towel or household detergents follow Via Euganea in eastern direction, cross both, the bridge over the river, and the street side. Here, on Via Padova (the street changes its name in Tencarola) you'll find a well assorted NaturaSi supermarket which also has a small section of self-service zero waste dispensers for grains and a few other dry foods and refill for most household detergents. This would also be the place you had to do most of your organic shopping when living in one of the villages in the vicinity – your next real options being the NaturaSi in Abano Terme or, naturally, the ones in the city of Padua.
- Come una volta, Montegalda,
Via Roma, 45 (neighbourhood grocery)
[Padova, Padua, Selvazzano, Montegalda, organic, biologico, zero_waste, vegan, ice-cream, supermarkets, coffee, cafe, grocery, bodycare, household, confectioners]
Wednesday, 11 May 2022
A serious university city Esslingen sports a small package-free self-service supermarket where you can fill your boxes, bottles, bags and jars yourself, and any pre-packaged item either comes in glass or paper packaging.
Ohne Ebbes (the Swabian dialect word "ebbes" refers to "anything", hence the name can be translated as "without anything") is located near Hafenmarkt, with its entrance facing Milchstraße. Missing a glossy window front it can appear nearly invisible. The clean and welcoming shop offers dry food, sweets, cleaning detergents, household items, and sustainable body care. All non-packaged items are organic, but since the shop is missing an organic certification it is not allowed to advertise this. Only some pre-bottled regional beverages are not organic. The shop follows a German tradition among organic shops in university cities to offer a 10 percent discount to students on Thursdays.
For fairly produced gifts, fashion and dried food fair-trade world shops always are a good bet. But the
Weltladen in Esslingen is even better: At its left-hand site it has a small zero-waste shop-in-shop with
gravity bins containing nuts, cereals, pasta, sweets, coffee and more, not all of them certified organic, though. Bring your own jars, boxes or re-use clean paper bags from previous shoppings. As long as covid-19 requires stricter hygiene ask one of the helpful volunteers who are running the shop to fill them for you – and use the time for a chat. The shop also offers a small assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables.
To buy loose weight tea take a stroll over Germany's next to oldest stone bridge, the
Innere Brücke ("inner bridge") over the Neckar canals and the Maille park: In a beautiful pavilion integrated into the bridge you'll find Esslingen's branch of the
Tee Gschwendtner franchise. If you present your tea box to the shop assistant before you decide on the tea of your choice they are happy to fill customer receptables.
A few steps north of the train station you'll find a
branch of the nation-wide operating
Alnatura supermarket chain inside the ES shopping mall. It's far from being dedicated zero-waste but offers a basic assortment of preserved food, wine, beer, juices and soft drinks, dairy products and vegetable alternatives in retour glasses or bottles as well as package-free bakery products (provided you sport a bag), fruits and veges.
If you prefer a regional chain of organic supermarkets head for the
Naturgut branch inside the old fire warden. Apart from diary products and beverages there's no focus on returnable deposit bottles and glasses, but you may of course buy package-free fruit and greens. For bakery items turn to the right at the entrance: The bakery counter is located inside the attached self-service day cafe, Brot & Cafe.
Although Germany's arguably largest organic bakery chain, Munich-based Hofpfisterei ("bakery with appointment to the (Bavarian) court") traditionally restricts its branches to Bavaria (and the German capital Berlin), there's a
Hofpfisterei shop in the pedestrian area of Esslingen's old town, too. As in all Hofpfisterei branches, there's not need to argue with the shop assistants when you present a bag or box to take your breads, rolls and pastries home – they will happily comply.
Outside the city, in Sulzgries, you'll find the organic farmshop of the
Eglisenhof farm, a grower of both, veges and grapewine. They also have a (local)
delivery service. Unfortunately the vinification of their grapes by a local co-operative does not (yet?) seem to happen according to organic standards, at least I was not able to find any organic local wine and even met strong resistance when I asked for it at local wine specialists.
The farm also has a booth at the farmers' market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
However, you have to rise in time to get there as the market closes already around noon.
[Esslingen, organic, coffee, vegan, zero_waste, fair, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, farms, bodycare, household, corona, covid]
Tuesday, 12 April 2022
Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will without doubt prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.
You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles. Since 2021 we also have seen the gradual arrival of dry food, preserves and spreads in returnable glasses formerly only used for yogurts.
Starting in 2017 the more dedicated organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging and allow customers to bring their own containers to fill with selected goods.
Unless stated otherwise all shops mentioned in this post will help you out with clean and empty reusable glass jars or organic cotton bags which you – depending on the shop – can either buy or lend if you forgot to bring your own.
Package-free food and household necessities
Four years ago, on February 20th, 2016 the city's first crowd-funded vegetarian zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store
gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos.
It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries
from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin, vodka and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars. Most sweets, toothpaste tablets, protein powder, matcha and other expensive products the staff will fill into your containers at the till.
There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from an ever increasing range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers, and increasingly also in deposit glasses. In 2022 the range of goods also includes ready-made convenience food like vegetarian bolognese and curry in retour glasses. The
sale of fresh greens and fruits was discontinued.
Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight. While covid-19 restrictions prevailed you are also asked to wash your hands when entering the shop, but that's a good idea anyway.
When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.
A second branch opened January 23, 2019 in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen, a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, and offers snacks – you can have a sandwich, a slice of cake or a buttered pretzl. However, neither lunch nor fresh fruit and veges are available in this clean and pleasantly light shop. It's usually less crowded which also explains why you may find it closed for some days during school holidays, especially in the summer.
If you prefer a crammed and intimate corner shop where the shop keeper herself will fill your jars and boxes pay a visit to Mutternaturladen. Formerly located in Harlaching, next to the Biowelt convenience store, the shop did not survive the covid-19 hardnesses. But by the end of the summer 2021 the owner had found a new home inside the container village of the Bahnwärter Thiel subcultural arts centre near Munich's meat-packing district.
To come here, be brave and enter the graffiti-painted iron door to the area from Tumblinger Straße and proceed through the Bahnwärter Thiel entrance to the right: an archway made of bicycle rims. Follow the path straight ahead, keeping on the left hand side, to the end of the container village.
What you can buy here: all types of dry food, herbs and spices, everything you need to bake and cook vegetarian food, coffee, tea, drinks, sweets, household chemicals and body care products. Unfortunately I have not been able yet to step inside the new location due to its extremely restricted opening hours.
With Westend Pur a neighbourhood grocery in the Westend
opened as a franchise partner of Mutter-Natur-Laden which means you will be served most of the loose weight products, with a chit-chat if you wish, just like in the old days. If you are short of time order in advance, and come to fetch your pre-filled shopping bag. Apart from (dry) food there's also a huge selection of plastic-free household and body care items, including solid and liquid household chemicals. All products are selected to be
organic, sustainable, plastic-free, with short delivery chains, but there are no fresh fruit and veges.
The entrance points towards Bergmannstraße.
The pandemic spring and summer of 2020 saw a blossoming of zero-waste groceries in the South and West of town: Approximately at the same time as the Westend got its neighbourhood shop, Servus Resi opened in Obersendling right before the lockdown in March 2020, in a non-descript middle of no-where near the Siemenswerke former industrial area. But don't let you fool from the uninviting environment at a noisy car road – what you'll find here is a busy neighbourhood gem nicely furnished in light wood, with a superb selection of dried herbs and spices aside the usual dry food, and a nicely arranged selection of household items. The greengrocery section is rather limited – local organic apples and potatoes in late autumn 2020 –, and there are no dairy or other food requiring cooling, but the shop offers both, liquid body care products and household chemicals from refill stations. Everything is supervised by the friendly shop-owner, Chrissy (not Resi) herself, and if you wish to get in touch with people from the neighbourhood take the burden to come here even from other parts of town.
In Laim Nebenan unverpackt ("package-free next door") followed in summer 2020. The latter is organised as a co-operative (though the location next to a co-operative bank is purely accidental) and sports a
small neighbourhood coffee place. They offer a slightly bigger selection of dry food than the Ohne shops, fresh fruit and veges, but less dried herbs and spices and no spirits. You can however buy wine and their selction of condiments and preserves in one-way glasses have the effect that you can do all the regular daily shopping here in one place if you don't come with more advanced expectations.
Half a year earlier, in January, 2020 another
co-operative, Deine Alternative ("your alternative") in Zorneding, opened on the premises of the former Raiffeisen co-operative bank, just a few steps from the urban train station.
When you get inside you will however immediately forget about its past as a bank, the shop is carefully and pleasantly decorated, with wooden furniture and equipped with a proper Italian coffee machine for a break in between. Most of the often local produce sold here is organically certified or at minimum sustainably produced, though it would be nice if conventional loose-weight products were clearly marked. In addition to the gravity bins and containers with dry food there's a decent selection of dried herbs and spices, sweets, bread, some confectionery, a small selection of fresh organic greens and veges, cheese and milk from the Nirschlhof organic farm (but interestingly enough no whole-meal flour or oils, vinegars or spirits by the litre). In a separate room you can buy toiletries, household chemicals and items supporting a zero-waste lifestyle. Everyone is welcome, but members of the co-operative pay less.
If you live in the municipality of Zorneding you can pre-order a daily changing lunch dish to take home on weekdays or a covid-19 emergency food box that will be delivered home for those in quarantine.
In opposite direction, at the Western end of the Munich's S-Bahn (line S8) urban train network Evis ab ins Glas ("Evi's off-into-the-jar") opposite the town hall of the municipality of Gilching opened 27th July, 2020, sporting a lot of package-free artisanally produced food, natural body care and household items, predominantly delivered by small-scale farmers and manufacturers in the greater Starnberg area. If you have wine corks bring them along for upcycling by a Rosenheim-based manufacturer of shoes. The shop is closed on Wednesdays.
South-South-West of Munich, the city of Wolfratshausen (the endpoint of the S7 urban train) likewise sports a package-free shop centrally located at the Obermarkt market place: Ohnverpackt, another zero-waste shop opening within the corona lockdown in the spring of 2020,
is even certified organic. The few conventional products of regional origin are clearly marked as an exception. It does not only offer the usual dry food and household chemicals, but also a good selection of cheese and antipasti. What you won't find are fresh fruits and veges, meat and sausages.
There's a small day cafe, unfortunately all closed on Mondays.
South of Munich, directly located at the S-Bahn station of Neubiberg the owner of the conventional Edeka supermarket opened a side project next door,
Hertscheck Unpacked which hopefully attracts people who usually wouldn't buy off the conventional supermarket tracks.
Although not marked most of the unpackaged dry food is organic – the shop assistant explained that since the shop itself isn't certified but fills the gravity bins and glass jars from bigger packages it isn't allowed to declare the products as "bio". There's also a good selection of loose-weight natural body care (both, in solid and liquid form) and household chemistry from brands I haven't found elsewhere. You can refill organic gin and regional (though not organic) whisky. The highlight of the shop are grow cabinets with special lamps where a good selection of herbs is grown, naturally free from agrochemicals. For city dwellers the place most certainly is worth
a little bicycle ride (through the beautiful eco park Umweltgarten Neubiberg where an organic farmer's market is held on Thursday afternoons) or urban train tour even though the place has less liberal opening hours than the conventional supermarket next door.
Fun fact: The former premises of the Edeka supermarket now host a Vollcorner organic supermarket.
In March 2019 a tiny neighbourhood shop specializing in natural home cleaning opened in the Glockenbach neighbourhood: At Abgefüllt & unverpackt ("bottled and unpacked") the singer of the Munich-based band "Cat Sun Flower" warmly welcomes customers and passers-by and helps to (re)fill empty bottles with organic liquid household detergents. At the time of writing this shop was the only one in Munich selling washing powder by weight. In addition there are eco-friendly dishwasher tabs, body and hair soaps, fairly traded natural facecream in returnable glasses, towels, as well as upcycled and fairly traded bags and toiletry accessories.
About 20 years ago, Munich got its first – and to my knowledge only – organic department store centrally located a few steps from the Isartor: It consists of the city's first branch of the Basic supermarket chain with a self-service cafe on the ground floor and both, a self-service restaurant and a fashion and beauty store on the first floor. The latter,
Beauty & Nature, is a reliable source of organic clothes (with a focus on women and children), body care, home decoration, toys, dietary supplements and all types of sustainable household items including shoe shine, candles, seeds, cutting boards, or floor clothes.
Long anticipated, they started to offer refill for household detergents of the Sonett brand by the end of 2021, with a 10 percent discount. Since the staff is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful, do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner
supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with
cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake. The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, while independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food or ask
the staff to fill your order into returnable glass jars (Vollcorner, Lebascha, ...) or stainless steel containers (Basic). As during the corona pandemic most shops are no longer allowed to fill customer-provided containers make sure to order deposit containers as there's still no nudging from the shops' side.
To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box (or ask for the deposit container) before placing your order at the sales counter and tell the staff to tape the receipt to it. Otherwise you may end up not sparing any waste: In the beginning the staff at the Basic butcher's disk would use the sheet of plastic-covered paper they'd usually wrap the purchase with to hand it over to you, along with the receipt taped onto the paper bag they otherwise would have used as outer packaging. In the mean time they got used to the procedure but were ordered to decline customer requests to buy meat this way. Since they started to provide stainless steel boxes for a deposit of 7 EUR there's however no excuse for one-way packaging here anymore. Artisanal organic butcher's shops will also fill meat into boxes you provide (though not necessarily during covid-19 measures). The Herrmannsdorfer groceries (e.g. the one at Max-Weber-Platz) reward you with a 4 cents discount per saved packaging.
All Basic supermarkets have installed gravity bin dispensers by now which reliably offer a small selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains,
though no dried herbs and spices, coffee and tea.
To buy these dry goods measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales next to the gravity bins will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction.
By 2022 it seems that Basic has consolidated its package-free offerings to
a small assortment of products that are available from all branches. Gone the
days that the branch
near Isartor offered some unusual Italian pasta shapes, or that the one in Bogenhausen experimented with freshly ground nut butters or
refill stations for frying and salad oils, shampoo and shower gel as well as tea and coffee dispensers.
All Basic supermarkets in Munich (and no longer only the ones selling toiletries and household chemicals like the Neuhausen and the Bogenhausen branches) are also equipped with dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand. To refill here you must either come with an empty original bottle or buy one the first time. Your purchase will be weighted at the checkout and the weight of the original bottle will be detracted. When I asked the staff why I no longer was able to use a blank bottle they explained to me that a label with correct chemical declaration was required by law.
Refill dispensers you will not find at the shops of the nation-wide operating Alnatura chain which takes a different approach to reduce consumer waste: Since 2020 it has been continously increasing the range of products in returnable jars and bottles – among others fairly traded nut butters, a number of dry products and even ketchup.
Dried fruits and nuts and (as a recent addition) vegan savoury spreads in refundable glasses as well as package-free toilet paper can also be bought from Vollcorner supermarkets. Their huge flagship store at Theresienwiese (with butcher's counter and lunch cafe) also experimented with a milk vending machine but this has been discontinued since 2019.
By the end of 2020 a number of conventional supermarket chains had introduced refill stations for dry food, too, but since you still have to do a lot of careful reading in front of the shelves to shop climate-friendly products, I won't mention them here, with one exception: the huge Tegut branch that opened in the Elisenhof shopping centre next to the main train station
in December 2020. This supermarket chain really gives their customers a choice – all organic products are easily to recognise thanks to a light-green label on the shelves, and there's a great number of them in all product categories. Given the sheer number of products on sale the impressive refill rack at the left-hand side of the entrance aisle comprises only a negligible fraction of total sales, but it's a good start, and the best: All products in the gravity bins are organic, and they have the biggest selection of package-free organic chocolate-covered sweets I've come across so far. There are grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruit, legumes and sweets, but no flour and surprisingly almost no pasta.
Although the supermarket has its entrance next to the Sunday-open (and if you ask me generally more pleasant) organic supermarket Biokultur in the Hauptbahnhof basement Tegut is closed on Sundays and public holidays as well as in the evening. When you have at minimum half an hour to change trains you will however reach to refill some of your dry food containers as long as you know how it works: Put your box onto the scales and choose "Tara-Bon". This will print a label. Fill the box and remember the product id on the lower end of the gravity bin. Put the filled box back on the scales and press the second "Bon" button beneath the "Tara-Bon" button. Now you will be asked to type in the product id. Scan the bar code on the previously printed label with the hand scanner, and there you go: A receipt with a price tag will be printed for you. Seal your box with this second label and hurry up to the cash counter.
In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, jelly gums and liquorice – only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter.
For home-made dried fruit stroll a few more steps down the street and step by Haidhauser Oase.
Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing and at the Biochicco supermarket in the Au near Mariahilf-Platz. At the latter you can only refill original bottles of the Sonett label.
In Harlaching, the
independent Biowelt supermarket has a small zero-waste corner with dispensers for dry food, a good selection of loose-weight dried fruit and a dairy and butchers' counter where you can hand over your containers.
Once, sometimes twice a week farmers' markets are installed in many Munich neighbourhoods. Loose fruits and veges prevail here, and boothes selling organic produce (watch carefully for "bio" and "demeter" logos) will usually fill bread, cakes and pastries, antipasti, meat and dairy products into the containers you present. Notably at the boothes of the Tagwerk co-operative and the Hofbäckerei Steingraber you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars. On Saturday mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au where all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, are organic. If you feel adventurous on Thursday afternoons take the urban train S7 in direction Aying/Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn/Kreuzstraße (or a bike ride) to the suburb of Neubiberg and pay a visit to the communal organic market on the pleasant premises of the Umweltgarten eco park, a true oasis within ugly suburbanity, with a small zoo, popular not only among kids. On Thursdays there's also an all-day market at Rotkreuzplatz. As on Mariahilfsplatz about half the boothes here are organic, though scattered all over the market area, with a cluster in direction Nymphenburger Straße.
Needless to say that the organic boothes on the famous Viktualienmarkt in the Munich city will happily support you when you make it clear that you want to use your own bags and containers. And the spring of 2021 did not only see the opening of an organic bakery in one of the solid market stalls in the northern part of the market, but also a tiny organic food shop for organic dry food grown and produced in the nearby Chiemgau region:
Satt und gut ("full and good") sells staple foods like grains, flour, eggs, honey and oil but also cookies, both pre-packaged and loose weight, partially from the smallest gravity bins I've seen so far. Note that this shop, unlike the market itself, is closed on Mondays
In Zorneding a small farmers' market is being held every Friday on the premises of the Biohof Lenz organic farm. Here you can buy local organic meat and meat products, cheese, bread, veges, and occasionally honey and bee products, wines and spirits. Although most stalls are organic there are a few exceptions offering conventionally produced specialities. The Lenz family's own farm shop keeps open at the same time and on Saturdays, but for buying their exceptionally good meat you should subscribe to their newsletter and order beforehand according to availability (you should be fast to answer). Unfortunately all the Lenz meat and sausages are vacuumized in plastic.
At the Western edge of town, in Pasing the organic market garden of Bio-Gärtnerei Kamlah has a farm shop open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. You can not only buy salads and vegetables grown here but also organic seedlings for your balcony or garden patch. The farm has also a market stall at the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt which keeps open all days except Sunday offering a huge selections of organic fruit and veges, but no seedlings.
Artisanal bakeries and butchers
Meat lovers will be happy to learn that Munich, the home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent family-run organic butcher's shop: The Biometzgerei Pichler in Haidhausen does not only offer these Munich specialities to buy home or to eat on the spot but will happily fill your boxes with all kinds of meat cuts, sausages, cured and processed meat (both, German and Italian style), including tongues, ox tails, offal and other low-graded parts of the slaughtered animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch on weekdays. If you are in the Maxvorstadt, the Pichler family also runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket which offers lunch items to take away and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves. However, during the covid-19 lockdown in winter 2020/21 the shop is refusing to fill purchases into customer boxes.
At the Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner opposite the Lebascha grocery mentioned above in Haidhausen the staff is also used to fill cakes, rolls and bread into boxes or bags handed over the counter. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those baked with white flour. If you come here for an organic coffee or lunch break don't expect wonders from the automatic coffee machine and insist on using your mug if you order coffee to take along. For lunch the bakery offers readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzl). There's another Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.
With roots in Munich, and since 2020 back baking in town, the Sunday-open shops of Fritz Mühlenbäckerei are not generally zero-waste, but their bread, cakes, and rolls will be filled in the bags and boxes you provide, even with restrictive Covid-19 hygienic measures in place. In spring 2021 the bakery took over a market booth in the Northern part of Viktualienmarkt, next to Heilig Geist church which is closed on sundays, though. If you come here for a coffee to take away, don't forget to order a recup deposit mug or bring your own.
To avoid food waste, if you are on a small budget and as long as you aren't out after a special type of bread or roll I recommend the Fritz bakery's newly established yesterday's bread shop, Zweitbrotladen, in Haidhausen. The small shop has only one disadvantage: by the end of its quite restricted opening hours you may find that everything you fancy has been sold out.
Another artisanal bakery that happily supports your efforts to reduce waste is the Brotraum in Schwabing, conveniently located near Münchner Freiheit.
Not very far away, in Türkenstraße you'll find another source of luxurious artisanal organic bread – the bakery of Julius Brantner. Make sure to come in time – especially on a Saturday you may find the shop closed after the last bread was sold.
A short walk from Sendlinger Tor, within the hospital area, you'll find Bio Backs, an organic bakery store where you also can get organic coffee drinks, tea, hot chocolate and snacks. Unfortunately the Asian lunch served there is not based on organic ingredients – for the home-made snacks only the butter, the flour used in savory quiches, sugar, milk, soy drink and vegetable broth are promised to be organic. Pro-actively insist on your own bags and containers when you buy to take with you. Mind you that the shop closes quite early in the afternoon.
While coffee is readily available from
loose weight convenience stores, tea drinkers aren't well catered for: Usually you will find some tisanes and one or two types of black tea. Fortunately specialist tea shops still exist, and as they sell loose weight teas by the gram don't be shy and ask them to fill your tea box.
Tee Gschwendner shop in the Asamhof backyard a few meters from the new pedestrian street of Sendlinger Straße this will work as long as the opening of your jar or box is wide enough for the shop assistant to fill it without touching it with her shovel. The franchise also sells conventional fare, so make sure to insist on organic quality – "Bio-Qualität" is the keyword. You'll find a decent selection of both, green, black and herbal teas, with and without aromatics. Bring a little time to stroll through the light and pleasant shop that has been at this place since the 1980ies, ask the assistant to show and suggest teas according to your taste and tell a little detail. When all your teas are filled into your jars you will be asked whether you fancy a tea sample, so it is smart to bring an additional small glass or jar.
Mind you that green tea doesn't store well in classic metal tea boxes as this material supports further oxidation processes.
In spring 2022 it turned out to be difficult to buy loose-weight organic flavoured tea as compliance to the EU regulation 2018/848 on organic products had not been established in time.
Coffee and food to take away
At Basic self-service cafes, the Ohne supermarkets, Siggis coffee bar and restaurant and an increasing number of other coffee places you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme.
Some like the Neulinger bakeries and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a small discount for sparing the environment.
Most of the eateries reviewed here will fill your food into the boxes you provide for take-away as long as you make this clear before they start their usual routine which still means one-way packaging. Sushi to take away is available from Sushiya, and they will happily accept your bento boxes with your order.
[Munich, Neubiberg, Gilching, Wolfratshausen, Zorneding, Au, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Laim, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, tea, bodycare, household, sushi, covid, corona]