Germany is set to unveil the country’s very first zero-waste supermarket. Berlin’s Original Unverpackt is the brainchild of friends Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski. Frustrated by the overpackaging and wastefulness they saw in the retail food industry, the young women decided to take action and launched a crowdfunding campaign in early May that has succeeded beyond all expectations. They now have the funds to open their first outlet this summer, with a second to follow soon after.
The concept of the store is simple: all food is provided in bulk and customers bring their own containers. If you forget your containers, you can borrow multi-use ones from the store, or make use of recycled paper bags. While the concept is familiar to food co-ops, Original Unverpackt will be on a larger scale and will provide absolutely no single use packaging or pre-packaged goods.
The team have been carefully sourcing stock as they prepare to open and their philosophy remains simple too. As they say, “You won’t find countless brands for each product because one, the right one, is enough.”
Where possible, produce will be sourced locally to reduce food miles, and both organic and less-expensive conventional products will be on offer as well “Everyone should be able to afford to help the environment in the way they can,” the duo adds.
Dry goods will be dispensed from gravity bins, allowing shoppers to customize their purchase and avoid wasting food at home caused by buying more than they really need.
The women aim to provide a real alternative to Germany’s larger supermarket chains and plan to expand the number of outlets as finances allow. With a crowdsourcing campaign that has already more than doubled their €45,000 goal, they are well on their way to making a difference to the 16 million tons of packaging waste produced each year in Germany alone. While the biggest battle now will be getting customers to remember their containers, similar concepts elsewhere show it can be done.
Photos by Original Unverpakt