It is no secret that the way we shop and eat today is wasteful. We come home from the grocery store carrying disposable bags full of disposable containers.  We fill our trashcans with plastic water bottles, flimsy packaging, and used food wrappers. The amount of waste we produce through grocery shopping is taking a toll on the environment. A supermarket in Berlin called, Original Unverpackt, through its zero waste philosophy, is doing something about it.

Think about the last time you went to the grocery store. You might have come home with a disposable jar of peanut butter, a plastic jug of milk, a box of individually wrapped granola bars, and separately bagged fruits and veggies. All of these items were likely carried in yet more paper or plastic bags. It begins to seem like most of what we come home with isn't food at all, but rather, packaging.

How does plastic affect the environment?

The plastic that makes up the bulk of our groceries is a huge contributor to plastic pollution. The stuff is littered onto our streets, dumped into the ocean, and piled onto landfills only to sit there indefinitely.

The toxins in plastic kill animals and plants, messing with the food chains that the diversity of our planet depends on. These chemicals also seep into the groundwater, polluting our oceans and degrading our already diminishing water supply.

We have all seen the pictures of fish and birds with plastic packaging wrapped around their necks or tangled in their feet. However, we often fail to realize that the chemicals in plastic affect us too. For example, we need to remember that fish we eat may have been munching on plastic long before they are commercially sold in the grocery store. Many chemicals found in plastic bottles and bags have harmful effects on our health

The overuse of plastic in the way we shop has a huge negative impact on the environment and our health, but it doesn't necessarily have to. 

What can be done about this?

Original Unverpackt has changed the way people shop for groceries. Their "zero waste" philosophy means that everything is sold in bulk and packaged in reusable containers.  The reusable containers can either be bought in the store or brought from home. Glass bottles are used for liquids and large glass jars can be used for pastas, grains, flours, nuts, seeds, cereals, and more.

Produce can be placed in your very own fruit and vegetable bag and paid for by weight. With this method, there is no need to rip another plastic bag open and print a sticker just to buy a single avocado.

This grocery store doesn't stop at just food. They also sell lotions, soaps, toothpaste tablets, and cleaning supplies in bulk, as well as steel tupperware and bees wrap to eliminate the need for ziplock sandwich bags at home.

If you really think about it, the amount of plastic we fill our pantries and refrigerators with is pretty unnecessary. Most products can be easily and safely stored in sturdy jars and bottles, and bringing your own re-usable bags to the store with you makes it possible to avoid the monster supply of used bags that clogs the bottom shelf of your pantry.

How can I help?

Original Unverpackt seeks to change the way people shop, but not just at their original store in Berlin. They offer an online course and starter kit for anyone who wants to start their own store in their area, which supports the growth of this very important trend.

Shopping in a way that produces no waste is a great way to reduce your household's impact on the environment and it allows you to live and eat in an organized and uncluttered way. The waste-free philosophy that Original Unverpackt promotes is one that can be applied everywhere, and the store's success proves its feasibility.

Several stores in the US have already started to jump on board with the idea of zero-waste groceries and more are to come. Keep your eye out for one in your area or encourage your local grocery store to adopt some of the methods these stores use.

Take a look at Original Unverpackt's website or instagram for more information on how they intend to reduce waste and improve the way we shop.