More and more businesses and supermarkets adhere to the "zero waste" movement: their products do not have packaging, and each customer decides how much to buy.
In 1989, 100 million tons of plastic were produced worldwide. By 2014, this number had tripled. More than half of this plastic is used in disposable, single-use products, such as bottles, bags and containers of all kinds, according to the latest data from the PlasticsEurope association. Faced with these alarming numbers, many ponder the possibility of returning to traditional bulk purchases.
Last year, on average, each European citizen generated about 31 kilos of plastic waste. Taking into account that more than 700 million people live on the continent, it is urgent to take action.
Although the habit of recycling is increasingly widespread in social consciousness, it is still a smaller percentage. Most of those more than 20,000 million tons of plastic (60%) end up, each year, in landfills. Or in the sea.
In this wildly obsolete, throwaway consumer society, most products are packaged, and many of them, with more plastics than is necessary.
So much packaging could be avoided if we manage to break with the idea that a food coated in this material is safer. Some supermarkets already demonstrate the opposite: they sell their food in bulk, in a totally legal and hygienic way and have all the necessary administrative licenses for this.
Some initiatives are underway, such as the one recently started in the United Kingdom: the Change.org campaign for the country's supermarkets to stop packaging their fruits and vegetables. It already has more than 300,000 signatories.
Reducing plastics and combating food waste are some of the advantages of buying in bulk
The crisis has also played a role in this new movement. The way in which the Granel Madrid store is presented, in the center of the capital, shows it: «We were born with the desire to be able to offer quality products, natural and close, at an adjusted price, recovering the sale in bulk due to the different advantages it offers, from the possibility of buying only what is needed to reducing the consumption of elements plastics, thus minimizing our environmental impact. In addition, buying in bulk offers us the possibility of trying many foods by being able to acquire them in small doses, thus enriching our diet», Say its founders.
The Yes Future supermarket, recently opened in Barcelona, follows the same concept, and therefore joins the z movementero waste (zero waste), increasingly widespread worldwide as a way of life. They even have dispensers of biodegradable and environmentally friendly detergents. All the customer has to do is change a minimum part of his daily routine: when shopping, he must take his own container, or bag, from home.
Although it is difficult to determine, many media have considered that the pioneers of this type of establishment were the Germans Sara Wolf and Milena Gimbovski who, scandalized by the amount of excess packaging that small purchases carry and ends up in the garbage (as they have stated in numerous interviews) decided to set up, in Berlin, Original Uverpackt, a supermarket without packaging.
They needed an initial sum of 50,000 euros to start it up and, after activating a crowdfunding campaign orcrowdfunding, earlier than expected, they obtained in triple. In just over two years, it is a flourishing and profitable business. Society - without whose support the first supermarket without packaging would not have been born - has a greater awareness of plastic waste and, with gestures such as the return to the bulk, it is shown that it has begun to turn the consumer system around.