Most of us go through the same process to get and keep food in our homes. Unless you are experiencing life in a non-industrialized society, this involves a lot of packaging. Plastic, cellophane, cardboard, plastic wrap, Styrofoam, glass…the list goes on. Then you get home and for a few days you have a refrigerator full of shiny appealing packaged foods, but then what?
Ultimately all of that flashy packaging is a) a marketing tool and b) a waste of often non-sustainable resources. By the end of the week the food is gone and you have a trash bin and recycle bins packed full of things. Recycling of course is preferable to trash, yet many types of packaging cannot be recycled. Even if they can, this requires various types of energy, including more fossil fuels in some instances. In fact, the average person creates an average of 250kg of waste every year. How does this make sense?
Unfortunately as a culture, we are very disconnected from our food. It often comes from all corners of the earth, is transported multiple times, and goes through many hands and processes before it gets to us. We don’t always realise the energy that goes into making the food available. Perhaps this is why we misunderstand the extent to which this system is harming the environment.
Fortunately for all of us in this collective experience, we are innovators and visionaries at heart. Loving souls Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski have created what is the first ever zero-waste grocery store in Berlin called The Original Unpacked. After realizing the burden of food packaging waste and being deeply upset about it, Wolf and Glimbovski decided to take action. They dreamed up Original Unpacked, which challenges the status quo and gives shoppers a new, sustainable way to bring home food.
The grocery store was designed in close partnership with food safety organizations and only uses gravity canisters or glass containers that can be borrowed for a deposit. Customers bring their own reusable containers and can buy exactly as much as they want of something. Original Unpacked offers all the same food items a normal grocery store would, only without the wasteful packaging.
Creators Glimbovski and Wolf say they hope to send a signal out to the food industry that there are other options possible. They hope to see more companies following suit in acknowledgement that food packaging is not sustainable.