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“Precycling”: Shopping Without the Packaging

“Precycling”: Shopping Without the Packaging

A recently opened store in Berlin, Germany, is adding to a growing trend of “precycling” shopping, making packaging a thing of the past!

Original Unverpackt (“Originally Unpackaged”) was founded by Milena Glimbovski and Sara Wolf, and opened its doors to the public on 13 September.

Customers bring their own containers to the store, have them weighed and labelled, and then they shop. When they get to the till, their shopping is weighed up, with the weight of the containers (noted on the label) deducted and the customer paying for the net weight of their goods. The label is even designed to survive a few washes so that repeat customers can forgo the initial weighing process for a couple of visits.

The store also sells liquids – milk, beer, vodka, washing up liquid – and the same principle applies; the customer brings in their bottle, it is labelled and they carry on with their shopping, using taps on large barrels to dispense the liquid of their choice into their desired vessel.

The layout and decor of the store will take you back to a time of old-fashioned sweet shops, with jars lining the shelves. But Sara says that instead of going backwards, the mission is all about forward thinking. They want to encourage “precycling” as a form of preventative environmentalism, as opposed to just recycling already-used packaging.

“Here, the customer only takes what they need,” she said. “We would like to offer an alternative way of shopping, one where we offer everything you need – but you won’t find hundreds of different types of body lotion or olive oil.”

Sara and Milena hope the store with become a one-stop shop, containing everything the customer needs in one place, and being able to choose from around 600 specialty products.

Although not a new idea, selling products without packaging is a trend that is picking up across Europe – the store is the second of its kind in Germany, there are two in Italy, one in Austria and another in the south of France.

According to the government’s Reducing and Managing Waste Policy, the UK produced just shy of 11 million tonnes of packaging waste in 2011. So, if more ideas like this can stretch to the UK – and be able to last – there is potential for dramatically decreasing the amount of waste we produce, making a cleaner and healthier world for us all to live in.


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