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This “Zero-Waste” Supermarket Got Rid of All Food Packaging

September 20, 2014 in Blogs

By Lindsay Abrams, Salon.com

The Berlin grocery store is an experiment in ecoconcious consumption.

Forget plastic bag bans. Berlin is now home to a supermarket that’s gotten rid ofall disposable packaging. Original Unverpackt (“Original Unpackaged”), which opened Saturday, is more of a shop, to be exact, but its 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).

The shop, backed by crowdfunding, is a creative experiment in a new kind of shopping, one that takes the ethics of stores like Whole Foods to a new level. It sells mostly organic products, each of which is labeled with its country of origin, and eschews brand names. Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski, the duo behind the project, were driven by theslogan “Let’s be real, try something impossible.”

It remains to be seen if the store’s scalable — and whether it will catch on with the public. One ”group of Germans” interviewed by NPR Berlin complained that the store “looks too pretty and nice, and too bourgeois;” CityLab characterized such sentiments as reflecting a sense that “living a supposedly pared-down, less wasteful life is essentially a lifestyle hobby for people with enough spare cash to play at green dress-up.” But while many of the products offered, perhaps because they’re organic, tend to skew toward the pricier end of things, others are equivalent or cheaper than standard supermarket fare, one German newspaper reports. And a virtue of the fill-your-own-container model is that customers can purchase ingredients in exact amounts, meaning they don’t have to overspend for food they don’t need.

The environmental benefits of that model are not to be discounted, of course. Up to a thirdof the world’s food is wasted, and in developed nations, much of that waste occurs when people bring home more than they’re able to eat before it goes bad. If people are only selecting what they need, they’re less likely to throw excess food out later. In the U.S., food packaging is credited with keeping the food supply incredibly safe and extending …read more


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