The Lowdown on Unpackaged in London
I’ve been excited to visit Unpackaged in London for quite some time now.
Opened in 2007 in Islington, it was the city’s first package-free shop (and quite possibly the first in the world, although I’m not 100% sure of this). This is both an incredible and necessary achievement, when you consider the fact that even bananas and avocados in supermarket’s across the city are sold wrapped in plastic.
I don’t live zero-waste (more about that later), but from all accounts, this store would have been the wet dream of anyone striving to live an environmentally friendly life in London.
That is – if it still existed.
The Demise of Unpackaged in London
It sounded like the store was doing good business, up until 2012.
They then made the somewhat catastrophic decision to move to the increasingly trendy area of Hackney, opening up a bar and café in the process. I don’t spend much time in Hackney, but I imagine it’s an area that already has quite enough bars and cafés as it is.
So much for that. According to the website, “the addition of a café & bar was a distraction from the core business of refilling”.
The shop closed in early 2014.
I was super bummed when I read this, but then noticed that the store had partnered with Planet Organic, re-launching in their Muswell Hill store.
A glimmer of hope! I was struggling quite a bit when it came to shopping without plastic and thought that this might be the answer to all my grain and nut related problems.
Ha, ha, ha!
From what it seems, Unpackaged as it first existed, would have been a brilliant, pioneering concept. But now…
Unfortunately, it seems that the original ethos of the store was not taken onboard when it merged into the space occupied by Planet Organic. You could buy products such as oats and grains – for considerably more than you’d pay at the likes of Sainsburys and Tescos (I’m talking triple the price).
Although people were using the facilities, from what we saw, they largely weren’t bringing in their own containers. Mostly, they were using the paper bags that had been proffered by the store. A step up from plastic bags I suppose… but still!
Apart from this section, Planet Organic looked like any other supermarket. Much of the produce was wrapped in plastic and there was a whole section full of water bottles for sale!
Such a shame.
I’ve taken this mission on because I genuinely want to do something that is beneficial to the environment. I don’t exactly want to render myself broke in the process.
Oh well. Back to the drawing board.