Since I started the search for a green lifestyle, I have 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 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 Antwerp:
You can find more zero-waste and eco-friendly zero-waste shops in Antwerp in the Mixua online discovery guide.
Robuust - "The Zero-Waste Shop"
Robuust is the first zero-waste shop in Belgium, and inspired others, like the zero-waste shop "Be O Markt" in Ghent. A little side note here: The concept of a zero-waste shop is naturally not new. It used to be the most common form of grocery stores before the industrialization of the food industry. So, it's more correct to say that Robuust was the first one to bring the concept back to life. This shop aims to show us that a sustainable lifestyle can be fun, affordable, time saving and revitalizing. In this cozy store, we can find coffee, tea, dairy products, cereals, oils, nuts, seeds, fresh juices, and more.
Lara kookt voor u - "Bio shop with homemade specialties"
At "Lara kookt voor u" I found myself feeling right at home while discovering fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and even honey from Antwerp! We can also cozy up with a lunch or afternoon tea. I had the chance to have a chat with Lara, a lovely talk about ecology and healthy food. This while she was making homemade vegan chocolate mouse. This shop really is true to its name, which is Flemish for "Lara cooks for you".
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Photos by Mixua
Het Biohofke - "Straight from the field to your plate"
This zero-waste shop stands out for its beautiful wall drawings, seen both outside and inside the shop. It takes us straight from the city to nature. Here we find organic foods that come directly from the historical farmhouse Baarbeekhoeve as well as other local, organic farmers. Jelle and Roosje, the owners of this zero-waste shop, also work at the farmhouse Baarbeekhoeve. So freshness, good quality and transparent information regarding the foods are guaranteed!
Photos by Mixua and GoestingMagazine
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.