Original Unverpackt, a grocery store without packaging - credits : Design: NAU Architects Berlin (Michael Brown)

It is possible to shop without all the packaging

Posted on 16 September 2014.

Selling by weight without packaging is the brainchild of two Germans who are opening an environmentally friendly, no-waste grocery store in Berlin.

Every time you get back from the supermarket it’s the same old routine - unpack the shopping, put it all away and throw out all kinds of unnecessary and expensive plastic or cardboard packaging. Despairing of all the waste, two young German women decided to revolutionize the grocery store as we know it. Milena Glimbovski, 23, and Sara Wolf, 30, are opening a store where there will be only unpackaged goods. It is a first in Germany.

Rice, meat, yogurt, pasta, vegetables… At Original Unverpackt (the name of the store and a play on words that translates as "without original packaging"), the same things can be found as in other stores, with the exception of ready meals that have been banished by the two founders, but everything will be sold loose to the nearest gram (or centiliter). An ideal way of making savings and reducing food waste. In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, other goods will be stored in bulk bins. Customers will bring their own containers for their purchases. If they forget, they can borrow one, buy a multi-purpose container, or use recycled paper bags.

Although organic and local products will take pride of place in Original Unverpackt, for Sara and Milena the real goal is reducing the amount of waste we produce. "If in Germany we didn’t buy any packaged goods, we could reduce the amount of waste produced annually by 250 kg per person. Buying goods without packaging is the solution," says Sara. Enthusiasts of "precycling" (which as opposed to "recycling" means anything upstream designed to reduce production of disposable goods), the two young women hope to convince their fellow citizens that buying unpackaged goods is better for the planet and doesn’t cost any more.

Before even opening its doors, Original Unverpackt seems to have created a buzz on the Internet - as demonstrated by the success of the crowdfunding campaign launched by Sara and Milena. It raised more than € 100,000 - double the amount initially required to fund the opening of the first store, scheduled for August 2014 in the trendy Kreuzberg district in the heart of Berlin.

The idea is not entirely new since a similar store opened in London in 2010 before closing after a year. But the success of the fundraising campaign would suggest that Original Unverpackt will not suffer the same fate. The proof being that Milena and Sara have already signed agreements to export the concept to other European cities.

For more information:

- The Original Unverpackt website