Non-profit organization Bezobalu (Without Packaging) launched a pilot project in Vinohrady last year offering customers the opportunity to purchase loose dried nuts, spices, cereals, and legumes that are carried home in reusable jars and sacks.
The project was a huge success. “We found out it is very much in demand, not only by our clients, but also by people in the regions who to want open their own shops and who asked for our help,” says Lena Nagode of the Zero Waste initiative.
“It was also due to the rising awareness of Zero Waste that we came to the conclusion that we cannot run our operations merely from the tiny shop,” says Nagode of the decision to expand.
After raising over 1.1 million CZK, about a quarter more than initially necessary, during what was one of the largest crowd-funding collections on the Hithit.com portal to date, the group will now open a commercial enterprise with a wider assortment of goods later this year.
The first store of its kind in the Czech Republic with an area of 127 m², it will open at Hradčanská metro. Customers can bring their own bags or purchase cardboard containers to fill with groceries.
Says Nagode, “Our objective is to offer an alternative to the regular shopping experience by opening a shop, where you can buy what you really want and as much as you really need, without producing new waste be it from packaging or food.”
Thousands of these markets exist around the world; Bezobalu says it took inspiration from a similar concept in Italy. Customers buy food and drugstore items without packaging—you even get to slice your own soap and pour your own shampoo.
“We want to create a space which could also serve as a training facility for other people interested in spreading the concept across the entire country,” says Nagode of the organization’s plans to offer franchising opportunities.
The shop should be open in September. Prices should be lower than those of standard groceries falling within the BIO/organic food classification; according to Zero Waste, packaging reflects 10 percent of the cost, especially for drugstore items and cosmetics. (For a current price list see here.)
The store may eventually add a sustainable grocery delivery service via bike.
If you missed out on the campaign and would still like to contribute, the organization is hosting shopping events at the Lush store in Palladium today and tomorrow from 11am-9pm; proceeds from Chartiy Pot lotions go to the Bezobalu Institute.