Focus: Waste and Consumer Goods
Location: Berlin, Germany
Any and every supermarket customer should be aware that the movement to stop using disposable grocery bags has picked up steam in the past few years. The choice between “paper or plastic” is fast becoming outdated with some stores going as far as giving discounts to environmentally-conscious customers who shun one-use bags. Yet why not take this waste-reduction to the next level? Every shopping bag, regardless of whether it’s reusable, is filled with food items that are individually wrapped with even more packaging. Finding a way around this waste is the holy grail of food-related waste reduction.
Among a slew of businesses trying to solve the food-packaging problem is Original Unverpackt, a business started by Milena Glimbovski and Sara Wolf. When Original Unverpackt opens in Berlin, it will look little like your usual supermarket. Instead of shelves of pre-packaged food, the market will be full of bulk bins that let customers package food themselves in reusable containers brought from home. This eliminates not only waste from food packaging, but allows customers to take only as much as they want in order to alleviate food waste. Glimbovski and Wolf call their process of preventing waste “precycling,” or what one might call the “reduce” of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
Though Original Unverpackt is undoubtedly a business centered around sustainability, Glimbovski and Wolf don’t buy into sustainable food “buzzwords” which have the potential to obscure the reality of where food comes from. Their store will therefore be free of flashy food marketing that misleads customers, creating a simpler and less stressful shopping experience. They will stock simple, healthy, whole foods that market themselves. This won’t necessarily come in the form of organic foods because the organic label comes with a restrictive price increase, but will primarily mean local, healthy, unpackaged foods that are financially accessible to everyone.
Since May 2014, Original Unverpackt has been in the midst of a highly successful crowdfunding campaign on the German website Startnext. Midway through the campaign, Original Unverpackt more than doubled their goal of £45,000 and got donations from over 3,000 individual donors. According to their Facebook page, the store will open in the summer of 2014 near Görlitzer Park in Berlin. Patronage will come readily for a business which takes the next step to reduce their waste footprint. Whereas others just accept waste from food packaging, Original Unverpackt has found a way to trump convention with sustainability and create an environmental lifestyle.
Environmental Impact: Reduced landfills, avoided CO2 emissions and avoided deforestation
Measurement: Original Unverpackt
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