From environmental awareness to sustainable practices: A case of packaging-free shopping

Ragna Zeiss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The enormous problem of packaging materials, especially plastic, is widely recognized. Despite initiatives to reduce packaging, this recent problem is difficult to tackle. This chapter asks why we do not "simply" stop buying packaged groceries. First, it compares factors of importance and shopping practices in grocery shopping between an ordinary supermarket, an organic supermarket, and a packaging-free supermarket. Second, it reports on an exercise in packaging- free shopping in a place without a packaging-free supermarket. Which changes in everyday practices and routines were observed? In line with Garfinkel's breaching experiments, it explores what we see as normal with regard to shopping and how that normality may need to be breached in order to shop packaging-free. In line with research by Elizabeth Shove, the chapter argues that changes in sustainability practices do not "simply" follow from increasing environmental awareness. It shows how efforts at sustainable living are interconnected with everyday routines and practices which are difficult to change. Investigating these practices and how they change is crucial to live a life of engaged sustainability. The chapter further reflects on the value of exercises like packaging-free shopping for understanding how practices become "normal" as well as for experiencing lived sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Engaged Sustainability
EditorsSatinder Dhiman, Joan Marques
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9783319713120
ISBN (Print)9783319713113
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2018


  • Environmental awareness
  • Everyday life
  • Grocery shopping
  • Packaging-free supermarket
  • Practices
  • Routines
  • Sustainability exercise
  • Waste


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