It’s been nearly a year since you first heard of the packaging-free, zero-waste Original Unverpackt, a store whose concept was novel enough to raise €115,000 in crowdfunding and ignite social media around the globe (not incidentally, 24-year old co-founder Milena Glimbovski has PR experience). Now, it’s finally time to uncover whether the Kreuzberg store will be as popular as its marketing campaign.
Floral pattern white tiles left over from the butcher that once occupied the space give it an old-fashioned, rustic touch, while the bulk bins of lentils, rice and candy are reminiscent of US health food shops. Shoppers bring their own containers and bags or buy reusable ones there (from €1.99). Weigh your container and print an EAN-code (to calculate the net weight by the cash desk on the way out) before filling it up – a little more time-consuming than simply grabbing package off the shelf. Some 370 products (80 percent bio and regional if possible), all tested by the staff, include mainly dried goods (e.g. penne pasta for €0.55/kg) and an unspectacular range of fruit and veg, with price levels ranging from Edeka to an average Bioladen. Booze from wine to gin goes into reusable glass bottles. Your bathroom becomes waste-free with tubeless toothpaste in tablet form (€1.30/10g), shampoo and shower gel on tap, and even roll-on deodorant in special refillable bottles.
Whether you’re a hardcore greenie, indifferent to brand names or just sick of taking out the garbage, stepping by “OU” is well worth a visit. Be warned though: the homepage claims you’ll find “everything you need” in the store, which is true only if you don’t need meat or frozen goods… or, for that matter, toilet paper (at least at time of print).
Originally published in issue #131, October 2014.