A zero-waste grocery store
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We’re all producing way too much waste. Seriously. You know it, I know it, we all do. Just, many of us don’t do much about it.
Here to help you start re-considering your own waste-production and, consequently, change it, is a food store in Kreuzberg that is (almost) waste-free: Original Unverpackt.
Milena Glimbovski and Sara Wolf started the project with a very successful crowd-funding campaign that not only gained loads of supporters and the money to open their first store, but also an abundance of press coverage with media-outlets from Brazil to Japan reporting on their novelty concept. However, now that the store is up and running, the first press hype slowed down and daily life slowly sets in, it’s not any more about acceleration but keeping up the speed: convincing new shoppers to become regulars, the only way this still very ambitious project will be kept alive.
It actually was the first ever crowd-funding campaign I joined. After reading Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home, essential to the Zero Waste movement, I started to notice how much waste I produce in a day and made first changes like stopping to use paper towels in the kitchen or bringing small cotton bags to the store to pack my fruits and vegetables. However, there’s only so much you can do in a “normal” supermarket, where produce is wrapped in plastic to be brought home in a plastic bag (used for an average of 20mins before thrown away). So I was excited to see the Zero Waste movement being translated into an actual store.
Original Unverpackt’s idea is super simple – reduce the waste as much as possible, and yet it’s the implementation of the concept that means a lot of work – the team needed to find producers and distributors understanding and agreeing to sell their products in bulk and joining in to work as waste-free as possible.
So, how does it work, you ask? Buying your groceries waste-free means some planning, for sure. You have to bring re-usable bags and containers – OU has a huge selection of glass jars, cotton bags, metal boxes and bottles to establish your waste-free life; but you can obviously re-use things you have at home – think about the dust bags one receives when buying shoes or bags, unused pillowcases for bread and vegetables, empty jam or pickle jars… browse your stock before buying new! (An obviously essential approach to creating less waste is to re-use instead of buying new.)
Everything at OU is organic and sold in bulk, which means you just take as much as you need, fill it in your own bags and jars, whose weight will be subtracted at the cashier, and pay only the produce. Which also means the price per kilo is lower than the average – did you notice that in a conventional supermarket the price per kilo drops with the size of the package? OU obviously only has one price per kilo, regardless of whether you buy 200g or 2000g. Especially more expensive things like superfoods are considerably less pricey in here – with the average price tag being the same as in any other organic food store.
The selection of products is already quite big with over 400 products sold in bulk and a small array of products sold in re-usable jars with a deposit (like the incredibly intense jams by Rosenrot & Feengrün or milk from Brodowin). But it’s not only about food and drinks, OU also offers a big range of cleaning and beauty products in bulk! Dishwasher detergent, soap to wash your hair, tooth paste pills, laundry detergent, shower gel… As well as house-hold-products like dish scrubbers, handkerchiefs (think about the masses of paper-tissues tossed every day!) and ruby cups. You can see their impressive list of products here.
All you need for a waste-freeer life is here, you just need to make it happen! And the team of OU is always eager to help. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you have to go all the way at once, small changes are better than no changes, buying bulk once a month is better than never, getting only some of your groceries zero-waste is better than none. The important thing is to re-consider your life-style, and Original Unverpackt will make your start into and progress of a zero-waste life a lot easier. Happy shopping!