Unpackaged at Last

imageI remember back when I heard about the first package-free store. Unpackaged opened in London in 2010 and was a internet sensation the moment it opened (ok maybe only among us zero-wasters). The only downside – it was all the way over in England.

Well since then, lots of things have changed. The bulk departments of our local stores are growing, the Soap Dispensary opened in Vancouver offering bulk cleaners, soaps, and toothpastes, and our farmer’s market began to stay open every week year round. All these things make it much much easier to live zero waste, but I still had my eye on that first zero waste store.

When Grant and I started planning a trip to the UK, I knew Unpackaged had to be on our list of tourist attractions. In perfect serendipity, the store ended up being just a 5 minute walk from the place we were staying.

image_2The most exciting part of Unpackaged is the bulk yogurt, something I have been unable to find in Vancouver. Second most exciting are bulk oils and vinegar which are sometimes available but not easy to come by. And now that we’re here, the achievements of Unpackaged are especially notable because, from what we’ve seen in London supermarkets, it’s pretty darn hard to live zero waste here. I’m talking 2 or 3 choices of package-free fruits and veggies and everything else wrapped in plastic. They do seem to have fantastic recycling with public bins everywhere and food scraps pick up at homes, but the key to reducing waste is catching it at the source, and it’s not easy here.

So kudos to Unpackaged not only for doing what you’re doing, but for doing it in a country where pretty much no one else is!image_3

About these ads

11 Comments

Filed under consumerism, food, packaging

11 responses to “Unpackaged at Last

  1. Greetings from Virginia! Here in Richmond, we, too, have a tough time reaching bulk heaven. Whole Foods and a local market, Ellwood Thompsons, are great, with rarities like bulk nutritional yeast, honey, and even olive oil. But bulk personal care? Only in my dreams. I would love to see someone open up a store on par with Unpackaged locally. PS- What would you guys say has been one of the hardest sources/types of waste to eliminate? PPS- I’m excited to see you back online! Happy travels =)

  2. Elizabeth Leboe

    It must be a European thing: when I had a chance to visit Holland last summer, I was also shocked to see virtually every single vegetable wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam tray. It felt criminal buying all that for our bike picnics, with nowhere to put all the packaging but the garbage. Grrr. I sure hope that is not the future for our Canadian super-markets…. go farmers’ markets, go!

  3. Mel

    We have a student food co-op here in York (and Leeds and other places) where many things can be bought in your own containers (including oil, spices and washing liquid). No package-free toothpaste tho!

  4. I am contemplating a zero waste challenge at my house but I just don’t know how to get everyone on board. LOVE the idea of Unpackaged and wish we had one!

    • We love friendly competitions and also rewarding people for great recycling and avoidance rather than shoving rules down their throat. What about letting everyone make the rules up together and having a prize for the final winner?

  5. Sometimes I think of opening up a Unpackaged style store here in Melbourne. Half of me wants to do it to show everyone how easy buying package free food is and the other half of me wants to do it so I can get everything in one place rather than zipping about from store to store!

  6. Constance

    Just curious how you are feeling about “The Bulk Barn” coming to B.C.? I was so stoked as when I lived in Nova Scotia I could get feta cheese in bulk…so exciting! BUT they will not let you use your own bags. Have you visited a store yet?

    • I am interested to hear why they do not let you use your own bags. We have been turned away twice by butchers for heath and safety reasons which boggles my mind.

  7. Rubbish collection is essential for keeping environmental condition fresh and cleanness around streets. Its also beneficial for the economic growth of the country by doing recycling of this useless waste.

  8. This store sounds exciting! Wish there were many more worldwide, allowing the use of own containers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s