This is What a Zero-Waste Grocery Store Looks Like, and It’s Amazing!

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A Zero Waste Store in Germany

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I’ve been a little giddy about the idea of zero waste ever since I read about 23-year-old Lauren Singer from NYC being able to fit the amount of waste she produced from the last 2 years in a mason jar! That was hard enough to imagine, but now there’s an entire grocery store doing it too!

Oh the excitement!

Original Unverpackt, a grocery store located in Berlin, Germany, has managed to create a store that doesn’t produce any waste. Behind these doors, you won’t find paper bags, product bags, cardboard boxes, milk cartons or, well, any waste whatsoever!

How do they do it?

The products are kept mostly in bulk bins where you dispense them into reusable containers.
350-some products — including from fruits, vegetables, dry grains and pourable liquids like yogurt, lotion and shampoo — are dispensed into refillable containers. (Some liquids come in bottles with deposits on them, which is already standard in Germany).

There’s even toothpaste that come in tablet form!

Shoppers bring their own containers and simply fill them up with whatever they want, before proceeding to the cash register where the purchases are weighed and then paid for.

Original Unverpackt philosophy is that:

Packaging and the resulting waste is one of the greatest challenges of our time. 16 million tonnes of waste packaging is produced every year in Germany alone. Many of us are aware of this problem, but conventional supermarkets have left us with no choice but to purchase products in disposable packaging.

(my translation)

But wait, there’s more! Most of the products sold at Original Unverpackt are organic, and priority is given to small producers in the region. And if you’re not convinced (because maybe you haven’t been paying attention?) the goods also come at two different price points – with the cheaper one reserved for customers with low incomes!

I know.

I fell in love with them too.

This Berlin store is not the first of its kind, of course.

Packaging-free shops in Europe, which still in their infancy, are starting to pop up slowly. There are two in Italy, Effecorta and Granel; one in France, La Recharge; and one in Austria, Mass-Greisslerei.

Even the U.S. has joined in with their Austin, Texas representative, in.gredients!

Interestingly enough, these kinds of stores also have the added benefit of reducing the amount of impulse buys we make.

“Seventy percent of our purchases are spontaneous decisions where the packaging’s importance is going to have something reassuring or exciting, for example, to push us to buy,” said Valentin Thurs, writer and director of the 2010 German documentary ‘Taste the Waste‘, who attended the shop’s launch stated that

Less packaging, less consumerism, less waste, less bad choices, more money in our pockets, more power for small food producers… I mean, if that’s not ideal, then what is?

  • Sarah Burke

    Sarah is a graduate of the University of College Dublin. After receiving her MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture, she taught High-school English and History for three years before moving to Vancouver to pursue a career in writing. In her spare time, Sarah likes to write poetry, go to music festivals and drink wine. Her favorite food is the burrito. She is an avid reader of fantasy novels, an active participant in feminist circles, and will always have an adventure planned in the foreseeable future. Interesting fact: Sarah is fluent in Irish (Gaeilge).

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