We live in a small village, just outside the centre of Switzerland’s capital, Bern. During the week we don’t really eat meat, but on the weekends in summer it’s nice to throw a sausage on the barbecue or have a lasagna with salad.
During the first week of Plastic Free July, I took my own container to the meat counter at one of the two big supermarket chains. It was their main store in Bern. I chose some lamb and asked if it could be put in my glass container. The man refused, citing health and safety regulations. I tried to “strike up a discussion” (notice I’m not using the word argue!) that I took responsibility for my own actions and it would be fine as I would be eating the meat that night. He said no (man, I hate that word!), and because I had no (there it is again!) time to go anywhere else, I accepted the lamb, wrapped in a thin sheet of plastic and put inside a waxy, one-use-only paper bag.
As I walked off, feeling verrrry disappointed, I heard him tell a co-worker I wanted to use my own container. I didn’t hear any more of the discussion, but I hope it got them thinking! But this little exercise inspired me to hurry up and find a plan b … to refuse the refuse … because there’s always a plan b, right?
When talking with my old neighbour about local butchers, she mentioned the best sausages she’d had come straight from the farm in a neighbouring village. We just have to drive across the river, then up the hill and there it is.
So on Saturday, July 9 (the shop at the front of the butchery is only open Tuesday and Saturday mornings), we rocked up just before closing time with our containers, unsure if it would even be possible, and spoke with the owner … who listened to our reasoning and promptly responded with “of course!”
MUUUUUSIC to my ears!
We put 500g of mince straight into the glass container. No plastic wrap. Just fresh mince.
We also wanted sausages and I asked if she had any that weren’t vacuum sealed. Not this week, she said, but if I call on Friday afternoons, she can leave whatever I want in the fridge for me to collect the next morning.
MOOOOORE music to my ears!
So, of course, we’ve been back every Saturday since, haven’t we?! We’ve struck up a jovial business relationship! We know each other by name. I call her on Fridays and place my order and then we chat again the next day. I get to practise my German, and she gets to have a laugh at said German.
This situation has me excited for two reasons – 1. We create no waste when buying our meat now, and 2. We have a new relationship with a producer in our area.
This, for me, is a major win win! And I love the idea of supporting a local business owner who supports the idea of less waste. So I’m very happy to continue supporting her, and eating lovely, local, fresh sausages, steaks and mince. Think global, shop local.
Do you have a story to share? Have you found a local producer willing to help? Have you tried and been rejected? Did you have resistance at first but then talked an owner around to saying yes? I’d love to hear about it, so please drop a comment below.
Wishing you a wonderful day.
9 thoughts on “Our new friend, the butcher”
Hm, I have heard this discussion before years ago at a Tupperware party where they were encouraging you to use your own (plastic) containers for meat and cheese. Not ideal but still better than single-use stuff. I’ll have to see what our Migros and Coop say at the counter. We quite often use a local butcher, that is, my husband does so we’ll have to try him on zero-waste, too!!
I had no luck at Migros but I hope you do. The local butcher might be much more willing to help. Let me know how you both go! I wish you good luck and even better negotiating skills! x
Love our local butcher! They allowed and welcomed use of own containers, even telling me I wasn’t the only one (hurrah!). We don’t eat a lot of meat either, but this has made a huge difference. Glad you found success!
Hi Nadine, thanks for stopping by and saying hello! So glad you have a forward-thinking butcher you can rely on too. Isn’t it a good feeling? I think of all the changes I’ve been making over the years, this one has possibly been the most satisfying. I look forward to reading more of your blog! Best wishes, Angela.
Thanks for the follow, Angela! It was definitely a ZW win when I started going to the butcher. Feels good to support local as well, especially a small business that supports customers! It isn’t always like that, of course; how many times have you heard the term “cross contamination”?
Being quite new to this extensive ZW lifestyle (for many, many years have used my own bags – dislike with a passion all the little and big plastic ones) I have only encountered it a few times, but am so happy I may no longer have to worry! There are still many things I can improve on. It’s a great learning (and experimenting) curve, I’m loving it!
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