Having grown up in the U.S., I have established a clear and rigid understanding that any food I purchase must be pre-portioned and each portion individually enclosed in some kind of packaging or wrapper or container, that ultimately I must throw away, and that is essential to the foods’ preservation and, by extension, my survival. If I want cereal, I must purchase a box of cereal (which is recyclable) with a plastic bag of cereal inside it (not recyclable). And even though I only want a bowl or two, I have to buy the box. I probably won’t finish it, and it will expire. I might throw more than half of it away.
Humans today waste in the same manner we breathe in. We inhale oxygen because we need it to survive, and we replace each breath with CO2. We consume food and other products because we need them to survive, and we replace them all with waste. We consider the waste we create (and the carbon dioxide) an unfortunate side effect of an unconscious, involuntary, life-sustaining function — (…breathing, and) Consumption — our Wonder bread and butter.
It never occurred to me until recently that waste-free consumption could exist. What would a zero-waste world even look like? I’m glad you asked. For starters, there wouldn’t be islands made of garbage that are twice the size of Texas floating in our oceans. The ground you walk on might not be carpeted with litter, for a change. A zero-waste world would simply be more healthy, clean and beautiful.
But what the fuck would a zero-waste grocery store look like?
Good question. Don’t worry, we’ll show you, but before you scroll down and find out, try to imagine… How? How could products be contained and displayed without packaging? How would the shopper transport them? How would the cashier ring them up? They need to scan the barcode, which is on the label, which is on the packaging, which doesn’t exist. So how do they do it?
A grocery store in Germany — Original Unverpackt — has stepped up to the plate to show us how it’s done. Instead of aisles divided by towering walls of shelves stocked with boxes, cans and bottles, O.U. simply displays its fresh produce in crates and stores pasta, grain, cereal, beverages, etcetera in dispensers. The shopper comes prepared with their own reusable bags, bottles, jars and containers and fills them with any desired quantity — as much or little as they please. Like this:
Follow this revolutionary grocer on Instagram @originalunverpackt for regular reminders of what a waste-free life would look like:
If you have to see it to believe it, there it is.
So ask yourself, if this were available to you, would you take advantage? If Original Unverpackt opened a location close to you, would you shop there? How would you shop there? What would you need to do to become a waste-free consumer? Ironically, it turns out the first step to becoming a package-free consumer is purchasing your packaging. Reusable, of course. Including:
- Jars: An ungodly amount of jars of all shapes and sizes that are durable, sealable and easy to clean. Use them to contain items like sugar, flour, pasta, rice, cereal, jelly, coffee beans, tea leaves, spices, etcetera.
- Reusable Shopping Bags: To carry your groceries.
- Reusable Produce Bags: To contain your produce.
- Bottles: Durable, and easy to refill. Maybe a nice set of jugs, if that’s what you’re into.
Try adopting some of these zero-waste customs into your daily practice. Our world needs zero-waste, or as close to zero-waste as we can give her. So be conscious of the waste that you contribute. Reduce it when and where you can. Original Unverpackt makes zero-waste look easy. Cute, even. Germany demanded it; Original Unverpackt supplied it. If we could generate that same demand locally, and ultimately globally, just think how much waste we could eliminate.