Since I started the search for a green lifestyle, I have had one big frustration: my garbage bin. One of the changes I would like to make in my lifestyle is to produce less waste, to reduce my ecological footprint. After analyzing what is actually in my garbage bin, I noticed that 90% is plastic wraps and packaging. As hard as I try to avoid plastic wraps and packaging, they always find their way to my bin. However, there are places that help to live a plastic-free life, and they are multiplying rapidly: Zero-waste shops!
A zero-waste shop aims to make shopping trash-free by offering as much as possible re-usable, organic and local everyday products. In this definition "trash" needs to be taken in its broad sense, as it includes anything harmful for the planet, such as CO2 emissions and toxic pesticides. Also, "trash-free" is an ideal state. It's the ultimate goal. With some products that are not liquid but solid, like fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, it's easier to attain this goal. That's why most zero-waste shops have a packaging-free section, together with products that are packaged, with attention to sustainable materials.
Why avoid trash if we can recycle? Avoiding trash altogether helps to preserve natural resources, to reduce CO2 emissions, to reduce landfills, to encourage local production, and - don’t forget - by paying solely for the item, and not its packaging, we're saving money.
These shops promote a sustainable lifestyle, respecting nature and fair trade. We can usually find a broad range of products, like fruit and vegetables, bread, dairy, rice, pasta, drinks and cosmetics.
It's important to come prepared to a zero-waste shop. We will need our own shopping bags, smaller bags for small items and containers for liquids.
Photo by theessentialists.com
What about price? When I go shopping, I consider four aspects before buying something: (1) quality (industrially-made or home-made), (2) production location (local or overseas), (3) preferably plastic-free, (4) lifetime (how long can I use it before discarding). I tested and compared a shopping trip to a the regular supermarket and to a zero-waste shop, click here to see the result.
To be honest, the advantage of a regular supermarket is that I can find all items in one place. However, I bring back a lot of plastic trash. With zero-waste shops, I can't always find everything I need at once. I have to do several shopping trips, but my ecological footprint is lower. I prefer to invest in the growth of zero-waste shops. What is worthwhile, takes some effort.. ;)
Here are the zero-waste shops that I've visited in Ghent:
You can find more zero-waste and eco-friendly zero-waste shops in Ghent in the Mixua online discovery guide.
Be O Markt - "Delicious, fresh, affordable, 100% organic and pleasant ambiance"
I completely agree with the Be O Market slogan, as I found delicious foods at good prices and a good atmosphere. I love the fact I can ask exactly how the foods are made, as Be O Markt works directly with local farmers. The assortment ranges from vegetables, fruits, bread, cheese, seeds, nuts, pasta, wine, beer and juices. Also, Be O Market recently opened a cosy coffee & lunch bar, so we can also go and have a nice (lunch) break. I really like the fact they use unsold products to prepare their salads and juices, to ultimately avoid trashing!
Ohne - "naturally unpackaged"
"Ohne" means "without" in German. This zero-waste shop follows three rules: minimization of packaging, short supply chain, and organic. Here we can find a broad range of everyday products, ranging from foods, to cleaning products and cosmetics. Ohne aims to become a center of Ghent-made products, so that we can consume as local as possible, at an honest price.
Moor & Moor - "The new grocery store with real food, food that makes you happy"
Key values at Moor & Moor are: Organic, local, meat-free, ecological, and pure. This beautiful and cosy shop aims to limit packaging and offers fresh dairy products, bread, vegan burgers, nuts, seeds, pasta, rice and - especially- coffee. Moor & Moor roasts their coffee themselves, in direct co-operation with farmers in Nicaragua and Rwanda. Tuur, the house master-roaster, will be happy to answer any of your coffee-related questions.
Photo by Moor & Moor and cafeine.be
CRU - "Discover. Taste. Experience."
Entering CRU on the escalator, going down into the unknown and seeing appear this huge market place in front of my eyes, was truly an experience. CRU gathers ten crafts under one roof, each its own specialty. Here we can find - among others - fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk, a dairy section, meat and fish, flowers and a big wine section. The origin of the foods is clearly stated. I was especially happy to see, with several items, information regarding the background story and methods of producers. Also, on regular basis workshops are being organized where we can directly get to know the producers.
If you don't have any of these zero-waste shops close by, no need to panic! There are ways to buy more planet-friendly in a regular supermarket. Here I share with you my tips.