Alternative grocery store eliminates waste with self-service gravity bins

The Original Unverpackt eliminates packaging to cut waste and offer customers a buy-what-you-need alternative.

From the Series

An alternative grocery store in Germany cuts out all waste by eliminating disposable packaging and allowing customers to only pay for the amount of products they need. Launched earlier this month, the Original Unverpackt, in the Friedrichshain Kreuzberg district of Berlin, is the first of its kind in Germany.

“We think grocery shopping should become pleasant again, and our environment will benefit from this shopping revolution,” say founders Sara Wolf and Miena Glimbovski, who spent two years putting the concept together.

After an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign, the two university dropouts launched their concept to mixed reviews. While some found the concept refreshing and overdue, others found that the look and feel of the store is out of reach for everyday citizens. A number of people still view the concept of a less wasteful lifestyle as a luxury reserved for the rich.

The shop sells mostly organic products including fruit, vegetables, shampoo, and lotion. All of the store’s 350 products are dispensed by the customer into refillable containers, ensuring that customers only buy as much as they need.

This model cuts out the waste created by packaging food and the waste created when families are forced to throw out food after buying more than they needed.

To address the cost of the products, the store sources locally manufactured goods, and stocks organic and conventional products.

“You won’t find countless brands for each product because one, the right one, is enough. We carefully test and select each product,” say the founders.

The store joins the ranks of Ingredients, in Austin, Texas and the First Alternative Natural Foods Coop in Corvallis, Oregon.

“Everyone should be able to afford to help the environment in the way they can. There will also be a selection of non-food, cleaning and beauty products. Shopping won’t be the daily grind you’re used to, it will be a truly enjoyable experience.”