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Five German lifestyle habits you should think about adopting

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Kathrin Thams - [email protected]
Five German lifestyle habits you should think about adopting
Germans love their "Kleingarten" (allotment) like this one in Viersen, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Matthias Balk

There are lots of positive lifestyle habits that are important to many Germans, from striving to be on time to buying local. We take a look at five of them.


Being raised in a bilingual home, I've learned many German and American customs, and by living in Berlin I experience multiculturalism every day. So when I look at my German identity, it becomes apparent how diverse cultures can be, especially in lifestyle habits.

Because many foreigners know or have experienced the negative habits of Germans, such as complaining too much about cold draughts of air or the weather, I have compiled a list of some positive traits that Germans can be proud of.

READ ALSO: 13 things foreigners do that make Germans really uncomfortable


"Deutsche Pünktlichkeit" (German punctuality), Photo DPA

A stereotypical German virtue is punctuality (Punktlichkeit). Most Germans believe that it is better to be early than late. Of course, this mindset is dependent on the generation and how someone was raised, it doesn't mean every person in Germany has this trait.

What I've found is that older generations usually are sticklers when it comes to punctuality and might tell their grandchildren: “Der frühe Vogel fängt den Wurm!” (The early bird catches the worm!).

Younger people, on the other hand, tend to be more carefree, and have a laid back approach towards life. Their motto would be something along the lines of “besser spät als nie” (Better late than never).

Whatever the age though, there definitely is a big emphasis on being on time in Germany, and at least a few minutes early in some cases, so keep that in mind if you have an important meeting or job interview.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables

Homegrown peppers, Photo DPA

Many Germans love growing vegetables, or any plant for that matter, in their “Kleingarten” (Allotment garden).

Nowadays, almost a million people in Germany, from all socio-economic backgrounds, are members of an allotment garden association and use their gardens for all kinds of purposes: parties, gardening, family gatherings...the list goes on.


Renting a Schrebergarten might be one of the most German things to do ever. But beware: there are strict rules that you have to follow when renting a small garden – and it is illegal to permanently live in a garden shed in the allotment, no matter how big it is.

Germans will also grow things in their backyard, if they have enough space. Ranging from  strawberries or an apple tree, to eggplants, pumpkins and rhubarb, there really is a big culture for growing your own in the Bundesrepublik.

Often, they even grow vegetables and fruits on their balcony as well. Tomato plants, for instance, are common plants for the balcony.

Germans quite frankly just love their vegetables!

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Der Schrebergarten

Buying from local shops and buying organic-products

The organic seal in Germany, Photo DPA

Supporting local shops and markets that offer products without the use of chemicals not only helps the environment, but also your health.

Germany has loads of 'Bio' (organic) supermarkets and Germans pride themselves on buying good quality products. Although the downside of that is they can be more expensive.

However, it's not always necessary to buy at Starbucks, for example. Why not try the local coffee shop at the corner or the local bakery down the street?

These shops are not part of a big cooperation but are often run by family or friends. By supporting them you will help local shops stay in business.

And the great thing about them, is that they value humane, organic, eco-friendly products.

Animal-friendly products

This seal indicates animal-friendly farming, Photo DPA

It is not only vital to support the environment and your health, for many Germans it's also a crucial habit to purchase products that are animal friendly.

This is sometimes not as easy as it sounds, because there are dozens of labels that can confuse the buyer.

When looking at an egg carton for example, it is important to pick the one that raises the male chicks, who would otherwise be killed (Brand: Bruder Initiative Deutschland), and allows the chickens to live outside (Labelled: Freilandhaltung).

Of course these things also apply when buying meat or any other animal product.



German recycling trash cans, Photo DPA

The recycling system, trash separating system, is an established part of the German system that most citizens help support. It not only keeps the streets clean but also contributes to being eco-friendly.

Because this system is not only a movement but a rudimentary part of society, it needs to be supported by every single person in order for it to be effective. Once you get the hang of it, it will become a routine.

The yellow trash, labeled “Leicht Verpackung” is dedicated to plastic, aluminum, and other light packaging products. The black trash, “Restmüll”, is for cigarettes, ceramics, cosmetics, and other residual waste. The brown trash labelled “Biotonne” is for organic waste which is basically anything that can be used for compost.

The trash for paper and cardboard is blue and called “Papiertonne”. The newest member of the trash-family is the orange trash which is for metal and synthetic waste. And lastly, the glass trash is labelled by which colored glass belongs in it.

Meanwhile, the bottle "Pfand" (deposit) system means you take empty plastic and glass bottles back to the shop for recycling and receive the deposit back.

Recycling in Berlin, as an example, is even a fun activity, because the “Berliner Stadtreinigung-BSR” (Berlin city cleaning) decorates their garbage trucks and trash cans with whimsical, unique phrases such as “Kerrari”, a compound word made up of Ferrari and “Kehren” (Sweeping).

All in all, these habits are great to adopt because they will not only make you a better German but will also support animals and the environment, and help yourself to be on time.



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