Packaging keeps the products safe and helps us recognize our favorite brand on shelves, but after we consume the content only a huge waste remains. Add the plastic bags bought at every shopping session and try to imagine a little bit how much each of us encourages pollution.
Worried by the fact that Germans throw away an average of 16 million tonnes of rubbish a year, Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski decided to set up a store in Berlin with “no disposable cups, no shrink-wrapped vegetables, no plastic bags in cardboard boxes, and no Tetrapaks.”
After more than a year of work, and with the help of a crowd funding campaign, the two ambitious entrepreneurs launched the Original Unverpackt (Originally Unpackaged) store few weeks ago.
Berlin shoppers can find here most of the products they would normally find in any store except that all of them are dispensed into refillable containers. That means you can’t make a single purchase here if you don’t have with you some containers, but in case of a spontaneous shopping you can rent reusable containers from the store or receive recycled paper bags.
The store is supplied with more than 350 good quality goods (mostly organic) ranging from fruits, vegetables, dry grains to pourable liquids like yogurt, lotion and shampoo. Unlike typical supermarkets, at Original Unverpackt there is no room for countless brands for each product because one, the right one, is enough.
Although there are some products that can’t be available in bulk (such as toothpaste) there will always be other suitable options – for example instead of toothpaste in a tube, customers can buy tooth-cleaning tablets or powder.
Shampoo is kept in huge vats.
Large containers with spices.
Not only the packaging is completely eliminated through this fill-your-own-container model that underlies the store, but less food might be thrown away because people have the possibility to purchase ingredients in exact amounts they need. Also a large part of the goods comes from local suppliers as a means of reducing the high costs and pollution associated with long-distance transportation.
Original Unverpackt really wants to be a store with ’zero waste’, but it remains to be seen if the store’s scalable and whether it will convince people to change their shopping habits.
Photos by Jendrik Schröde.
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