One amazing thing to me about Berlin is how environmentally conscious this city is. Something I’m not so fond of? How cold it can be. And I’m not talking about temperature – although that kinda sucks too. But still, even if the secretary at the doctor’s office is giving you shit for you simply expecting her to do her job (long and true story), you can bet she’s recycling when she gets home. So I guess I can’t be too mad. Re-using cloth and nylon bags for grocery shopping has long since been the norm over here, as has not really turning on lights in buildings until it literally becomes difficult to read even when squinting – I’ve experienced this in the waiting room at the hospital and first thought they were just trying to save money or completely aloof, but then realised all the offices and pre-schools I’ve ever worked in were clearly following the same policy.
Oh, and expect to be freezing in the winter indoors, because no one really likes to put the heat on either as it wastes energy. And dyers? Yeah they don’t really exist, unless you are a snob. A substantial amount of the population is also fixated on organic and local produce. Which brings me to this pretty great grocery store I discovered after reading this article last week called OU, or Original Unverpackt.
OU is a local grocery store that has done away with traditional wasteful plastic packaging and is bringing back the good ole days when the milkman used to leave glass bottles on your front step. The store runs on a simple premise – packaging and containers must be sustainable. The rest functions as normal. You can feel free to bring your own tupperware containers or purchase containers from OU to either keep, or return for a deposit. Now, the one downside is that even without the deposit tacked on, the store isn’t cheap. Still, the majority of the store’s produce and products are local and not mass-produced in some giant factory part of the Agricultural- and Meat-Industrial Complex.
Being the starving artist that I am, I could only really afford to pick up one item, a jar of jelly (which, by the way tastes amazing, especially for breakfast spread across a Splitterbrötchen), but seeing as I’ll be needing my deposit back, I’m starting to see that not only is this an environmentally and socially conscious store, it has a pretty damned good business model too. Due to the high costs, I don’t think I will be a regular customer, but I AM hoping that more and more local shops and companies adopt this practice until it becomes the norm. Because who really knows what to do with all that plastic? I sure as hell don’t.
Photography: Rae Tashman
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