No packaging, zero plastics, zero waste retail and consumption... sounds too ambitious? This future is closer than we think.
A familiar trend is showing strong progress lately: the zero waste, sustainable, trash free, conscious, mindful, ethical way of life. Just like people, businesses are continuously thinking which bright label or stamp of certification will manifest to the world their good intentions. With different recycling regulations (or lack thereof) all over the world however, it can get a little confusing as to what is one supposed to do or buy.
With plenty ambiguity on the market, customers have taken matters in their own hands and innovative entrepreneurs are there to help them. Social media is buzzing, bloggers get excited, and packaging companies need to think twice if they can keep up with the very trend that can put them out of business (eventually).
Here are some great examples of individuals and businesses that have escaped the fuzziness and went to the extremes in leading the eco-trend – no packaging, zero plastics, zero waste retail and consumption. Hard to put forward a stronger statement than that.
THE PLACES: Zero-Packaging Grocers
The concept for packaging-free stores is not new. Bulk stores have been on the rise all over Europe for years – Effecorta in Italy, Granel in Spain, Mass-Greisslerei in Vienna, and La Recharge in France are some names worth the mention. A young entrant in this market however, the German Original Unverpackt (“Original Unpackaged”), is making waves in the media.
Nestled in the heart of Berlin's Friedrichshain Kreuzberg district, Original Unverpackt (“Original Unpackaged”) is being famed as the “first” packaging and waste-free supermarket. With all products sold in bulk and no brand names, customers know to bring their own containers from home, or they can borrow some if they decide to stop by the store at the spur of the moment. The store has been rather popular and bound to grow as the concept is available for franchising to anyone interested.
So why Original Unverpackt is gaining fame as the “first” of its kind? The novelty here is not so much in the execution, but the presentation. The store has managed to take the old approach of bulk selling, and market it in line with what the world cares about - no brands, no packaging, less waste and money savings. It’s quite clever: the “bring or borrow your own container” practice is sure to increase customer loyalty and get people coming back, while the savings from lack of packaging are significant for the consumers. As a result, Original Unverpackt and the likes become appealing not only to hard core green lifestyle lovers, but to average price-sensitive shoppers. With such 2-in-1 combo, the impact of the initiative is carried over by a much wider audience. Yet another proof that good marketing can wrap a pretty old idea in shiny new packaging and sell it to almost anyone (we couldn’t resist the cheeky pun).
THE PEOPLE: Not your hippie tree-huggers
Imagine that you make no trash whatsoever – you never need to take out garbage, as matter of fact you don’t even own a bin! How sustainable do you think you are now?
The young blogger Lauren Singer has laid out neatly the reasons why she lives a zero-waste life, and frankly it would be hard to argue with the reasoning. You can check out there post here, but here is your recap: she saves money, she eats better, and she lives a simpler, happier life. She buys in bulk from places like those described above, she makes her own cosmetics, and very seldom buys pre-packaged products such as eco make-up.
While living in the extremes may not be for everyone, Lauren’s blog (here) comes to remind that we tend to overcomplicate our consumptions, habits and lives.
As the famous design book’s title goes: Why Shrinkwrap a Cucumber?
Lauren is not the only one – there are many people like her that show a greater sensibility towards the impact existence in the world. Those are paying customers who make conscious instead of habitual buying choices. We think that companies (ours including) that can directly influence the way we consume, dispose and live should take the lead in this conversation. We are sure to talk more about this subject in future posts.