Plastic grocery bags have been on the radar for many years as a completely avoidable form of consumer waste. But the first layer of packaging that goes around products doesn’t get quite as much attention, despite it being just as wasteful in many cases. A London grocery store is setting a new precedent by eliminating packaging from all of the products in their store, saving the environment and saving customers money at the same time.
Unpackaged started out as a simple market stall in 2006 and evolved into the lovely London shop that’s noticeably devoid of bright cardboard and plastic containers. When customers come in for their weekly shopping, they simply bring containers – any containers at all – to fill up with dried fruits, nuts, grains, beans and other delicious healthy foods.
Of course, it’s hard to remember to pack up the car with boxes, bottles and jars before every shopping excursion. In the event that customers forget their own vessels for their purchases, Unpackaged has some reusable containers available on site for most products.
By avoiding the costly and wasteful packaging that accompanies so many consumer products, consumers are removing a huge problem from the waste stream. But by reusing other containers to fill with their Unpackaged goods, they’re also removing those containers from the waste stream. And Unpackaged hopes that customers will recycle their containers when they reach the end of their useful lives, completing the three-fold Reduce, Reuse, Recycle hierarchy.
The environmental commitment of Unpackaged doesn’t stop at unnecessary plastic packages, though. They source products that are organic and/or fair trade whenever possible, they don’t sell products that are air freighted, and they’re constantly working to improve the company’s eco-friendly profile.