In general, the shopping routine is well-established: back from the supermarket, arms full of plastic bags, proceed to store products one by one by removing all packaging. To place the fruit in a basket you have to pull apart single-use plastic bags (used while weighing) whose average lifespan is about 26 minutes. Then comes storing yogurt, which means removing the unnecessary cardboard packaging. Throughout the week, or rather throughout the consumption, plastic bottles, cartons, milk cartons, cans. Hardly time to take out the trash bin, and you’re already shopping at the supermarket again!
Horrified by the amount of waste they produce, 2 students from Bordeaux carefully studied the problem of packaging: “We quickly realized that sorting is not a solution, it is a lesser evil”. To limit the waste, Jules and William had an idea: open a grocery store that uses no unnecessary packaging. They learned about existing projects abroad, and promised themselves they would open their shop once they graduated from school.
Two years passed and they have kept their word. Now young entrepreneurs, Jules and William are preparing to inaugurate “La Recharge” (“The Refill”) – the first grocery store with no disposable packaging. The address is still a secret, but the store will be located in the center of Bordeaux. Customers will be invited to bring reusable containers. And for forgetful people, containers will be lent for a refundable fee.
“The heart of our project is to reduce all disposable, single-use packaging and stop this waste,” says Jules with conviction. Considering the statistics, the young man is right to fight for zero disposable packaging: each year in France, nearly 5 million tons of packaging are thrown away, and only 37% recycled. On average, each Frenchman produces 390 kg of garbage per year.
“The other major focus of our project is to find producers, because we want to sell only fresh, local produce.” Exceptions to this rule: rice from Camargue, and citrus fruit from Corsica. “The idea is not to transport packaged products over a distance and unpack them for our customers. “
Fruits and vegetables, pasta, meats, wines and even detergents, the grocery store will be well-stocked and prices should be reasonable: “We will be competitive by eliminating intermediaries and packaging. For example, ecological laundry detergent produced in the Bordeaux area, we can sell cheaper per liter than most major distributors.”
Consuming while limiting waste production is possible, and the 2 entrepreneurs plan to prove it. Jules makes a last statement that impresses the Taranautes: “When there were storms in the Aquitaine region this winter, the beaches were completely littered with trash tossed up by the sea, and that really made people think.” In fact, 80% of marine debris comes from land, and it’s mostly plastic. For Tara –and our campaign to study micro-plastics in the Mediterranean – this grocery store offers an alternative of intelligent consumption.
We wish Jules and Guillaume good luck for the opening of their store.
Interview by Noëlie Pansiot
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