Unpackaged: Green Grocer Asks Shoppers to Bring Bags, Tupperware, and Jars


Whither Lunchables, that epitome of excessive packaging (and poor health), if the ethos behind Unpackaged, a northeast London grocery store, catches on? Maybe consumers will find that all those plastic containers jammed into Lunchables make handy carriers for their quinoa and honey.
Unpackaged is a store that opened in late 2007 and has garnered lots of attention as a green concept store. As the name implies, nearly all of the goods sold in the store are sold in bulk, so customers need to come prepared with containers. This isn’t all that new, of course. Food co-ops and even mainstream grocery stores have been selling food in bulk for many decades, but the majority of goods are sold in cans or bottles or some other packaging that can’t even be easily reused.
Plus, Unpackaged puts a price on packaging. Customers who fail to bring their own zip-locks and re-born peanut butter jars need to pay about 75 cents extra to use the store’s packaging. But customers are embracing the concept: According to Reuters, more than 80 percent of the store’s customers bring their own containers.

The store sells organic and fair-trade dry goods, produce, and household items such as detergent and shampoo (nearly all of it in bulk).
Unpackaged’s shopkeeper and originator, Catherine Conway, was recently named one of the top 40 eco foodies in London’s Observer Food Monthly.
And she’s clearly on the good side of the Local Government Association, a UK lobbying organization that wants that country’s major grocery chains to help the government pay for recycling programs because, it says, the financial burden of recycling and waste disposal on local governments in the UK is too high. The retail and grocery industry is pushing back, reports Elmada.)

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to www.mcoconnor.com.