Meet 4 Zero-Waste Pioneers Helping Shoppers Ditch Plastic

Credit: NewsTimes


Shoppers in the Netherlands can now take low-impact living a step further after Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza launched the world’s first plastic-free aisle in one of its Amsterdam stores on Wednesday.

Customers can choose from almost 700 plastic-free products, including fruit, vegetables and grains, as well as more unlikely suspects such as meat and dairy. Those products that are packaged are either wrapped in compostable biomaterials or come in more conventional plastic alternatives such as glass, metal and cardboard.

Les acheteurs aux Pays-Bas auront la chance de visiter le premier rayon de supermarchés sans plastique d’Europe mercredi, ce que les militants affirment être un tournant dans la lutte contre la pollution des plastiques. Le magasin d’Amsterdam Ekoplaza ouvrira ses portes à 11 heures au matin, et les acheteurs pourront dès lors choisir parmi plus de 700 produits sans plastique, tel que la viande, du riz, des sauces, des produits laitiers, du chocolat, des céréales, du yogourt, des collations, des fruits et légumes frais tous disponibles dans un seul rayon. Cette décision intervient alors que les préoccupations mondiales concernant les dommages que les déchets plastiques causent aux océans, aux habitats et aux chaînes alimentaires augmentent. Les scientifiques préviennent que la pollution plastique est maintenant si répandue qu’elle risque la contamination permanente du monde naturel. 👉 Pour consulter l'article en entier, rendez-vous ici: #nature #freeplastic #Ekoplaza #Amsterdam #Netherlands #wild #city #protect #environment #ecology #climatechange #alternative  #biologique #vegetable #share

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An estimated 8 million tons of plastics enter our oceans annually — the equivalent of dumping one New York City garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day for an entire year, according to Ocean Conservancy.

Campaigners have been calling for supermarkets to do more about plastic waste as awareness of the toxic problem of plastics pollution has grown. Here, we go beyond Amsterdam to look at what else is happening to packaging in some of the more forward-thinking grocery stores around the world.

Vancouver, Canada: Nada

If it wasn’t obvious enough, we’re NADA fan of packaging. Friends, we are SOLD OUT of tickets for our party tonight (Tuesday, November 14th)! A huge thanks to all of you for reserving tickets and helping us spread the word! Few more details we'd like to fill you all in on: ✔️ Please be sure to have your ticket easily accessible on your phone as we'll be checking them at the door, or know the first & last name of whoever reserved a ticket for you. ✔️ This event is waste-free event so please bring a cup (for beer/kombucha), a water bottle, and plate or napkin. No need for cutlery! ✔️ We'll have both cash and credit available at the beverage station. ✔️ Fund our campaign & have a drink on us! All additional beverages are a suggested $5 donation with the profits going to our upstairs neighbours (the Vancouver Native Housing Society). ✔️ Come with your phones charged! We'll have a funding station set up, but you're more than welcome to fund directly from your own device. Feel free to share the night on your social channels & tag us: @nadagrocery (on all platforms) • Now to introduce some more folks involved in making our evening special: – ⚡️ OUR DJ FOR THE NIGHT ⚡️: Anjali, aka DJ Gulab Jamun, is an environmental activist, musician and DJ. She is active in the social justice community in Vancouver, part of two musical projects (Aluma Sound and the @global_party_starters), and as well part of @divinitydjs, a talented team of professional DJs setting parties on fire in Vancouver and Edmonton. She'll be serving up a mix of throwbacks, international beats, old school hip hop/R&B, and other dancefloor favourites. She'll be taking requests all night! – 🍕 FOOD 🍕: We'll have tasty pizza from our future neighbours, @pizzeriabarbarella, cricket protein bars from @coastprotein, baked goods from @lakehousefoods, organic candy from @westpointnaturals- and so much more! – 🥂 BEVERAGES 🥂: Both beer from @facultybrewing and @redtruckbeer, and kombucha from @odditykombucha. Don't forget those reusable cups! Can't wait! See you all tonight (Tues, Nov 14th) at 675 East Broadway! Link’s in our bio for more details. 💛

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As a marine biologist, Brianne Miller was constantly reminded of the harm plastic packaging does to our oceans. So she decided to do something about it. The result is Nada, a packaging-free grocery pop-up in Vancouver that will be opening a 2,400-square-foot permanent store in the city in April.

Miller admits going packaging-free isn’t always straightforward, particularly when it comes to the shelf life of products. But Nada is finding solutions to that, Miller told HuffPost, for example by featuring a small cafe at the new shop which will turn the store’s surplus fruit and vegetables into soups and smoothies.

Nada also prioritizes local sourcing, shortening the supply chain to help keep food fresh, and works with community organizations such as Food Stash Foundation to redistribute food nearing the end of its shelf life.

“I don’t think [zero waste] is just a trend, I think this is a movement here to stay out of necessity,” said Miller. “We’re a large amount of people on a planet with finite resources.”

Totnes, U.K.: Earth.Food.Love

The Eckersley family in their packaging-free shop in Totnes.

After Richard Eckersley retired from professional football, he and his wife, Nicola, invested their savings to open Earth.Food.Love in the town of Totnes in southwest England. “Packaging-free shops make sense, so we couldn’t understand why we couldn’t find any wherever we went,” Richard told HuffPost. “That’s when we decided to do it ourselves.”

As the 100 percent vegan and organic store approaches its first anniversary, Eckersley says the most rewarding thing has been the satisfaction he sees shoppers get from choosing how much they want, filling their own containers and weighing it all.

“Our customers realize they can have more control over their food […] People are so used to just grabbing a packet of something. We’re here to help them slow down. There haven’t been any upsets so far — we’re going with the flow. As I always tell people, it’s just about really listening to what the customer wants.”

Berlin, Germany: Original Unverpackt

Original Unverpackt co-founder Milena Glimbovski.
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A pioneer of zero-waste shopping, Berlin-based supermarket Original Unverpackt has taken its love of packaging-free shopping a step further by offering an online course (190 euros/$230) to teach others everything there is to know about opening a zero-waste store. To date, more than 200 people have signed up to the program, and several zero-waste projects have started as a result, according to co-founder Milena Glimbovski.

“The zero-waste movement was very small when we started [in 2014],” Glimbovski told HuffPost. “Now it’s growing hour by hour, and not just in Europe but around the world.”

Glimbovski believes it’s not surprising that the “not-so-sexy topic of trash” has become so pressing. “It makes sense — people feel an urgency to do something about it. A few years ago supermarkets wouldn’t even think about plastic-free aisles. Now consumers are asking questions and they’re asking for change. If consumers are active, industry will change,” she said.

Austin, Texas: in.gredients

The in.gredients grocery store in Austin, Texas, opened its doors to the public in the summer of 2012 thanks to three brothers eager to establish a zero-waste grocery store in the city.

More than five years on, it now also includes a cafe, playground and event space, as well as a small garden plot out front which is tended by a local farmer. The produce grown there is then sold back to the store at low cost, and free of packaging.

About half the products the grocery store sells today – many of which are locally sourced — are packaging-free, with the store encouraging shoppers to bring their own containers to fill up on everything from granola to shampoo.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for customers to reduce their waste, and even donate five cents to a nonprofit for every container they fill up,” marketing director Grayson Vreeland told HuffPost.

And the word is spreading. Vreeland added that the store is regularly contacted — often several times a week — by people wanting to know how to set up a zero-waste store in their own town.

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