Sure I buy in bulk, but that accounts for maybe 3% of my groceries. But BYOC ("Bring Your Own Container") is the theme at Unpackaged, a London grocer offering many of their goods without packaging, or at least in refillable containers. Items range from the usual bulk and whole foods, but also include items not normally found in bulk, like herbs, oils, vinegars, soaps, toiletries, and even wine.
Started in 2006, Unpackaged is a beautifully designed storefront for organic whole foods (vegetables and fruits), dried fruits, nuts and seeds, herbs and seeds, oils, vinegars, wines, cheeses, daily fresh bread and other low waste groceries. The concept is simple: reduce packaging waste by eliminating the packaging. They encourage customers to bring their own containers, for everything, and if you leave them at home, reusable bags are available without the discount.
Their recommendations on containers: "Bring anything you like, there's nothing to date that we haven't been able to refill (even our lovely friend who likes putting lentils in old water bottles!) Bring glass jars, tupperware, old takeaway cartons, brown paper bags, plastic bags, old packaging.. if it's heavy, we'll weigh it first, if it's light then just refill and we'll weigh at the end."
A few other facts about the store: "Most of our products are certified organic. If we sell a product that isn't certified organic it's because it comes from a local producer or supplier and we have verified the sustainability of their production – it's just that we can't call it organic unless it's certified and some of our producers choose not to certify."
- We always source fair trade products where possible.
- We do not sell any products that are air freighted.
- We give preference to suppliers who are local, cooperatives or social enterprises.
- We apply the principles of the waste hierarchy to all aspects of the business: reduce, reuse and recycle.
- We plan efficiently to minimise any transportation by ourselves and our suppliers.
- We are actively involved in environmental campaigns.