Bulk Market in Hackney is a destination for zero wasters, locavores, and nostalgic seniors who love using refillable jars.
The zero waste shopping movement is on the upswing, with yet another plastic- and package-free store opening its doors to an eager public. The Bulk Market in Hackney, London, offers more than 300 grocery products in glass jars and large bulk dispensers, from the usual legumes, pastas, and spices, to fresh bread, bamboo toothbrushes, paper-wrapped toilet paper, and dog food, among many others.
The products are free from brand names (a liberating shopping experience!) and sourced from local providers, including cooperatives, social enterprises, and community farms, or they are made on site. Bread is made at the Luminary Bakery, which provides employment to vulnerable women. By purchasing locally, the store itself is able to avoid much of the packaging required for transportation. From the website:
“We apply the principles of avoiding-reducing-reusing-recycling-composting to our business model, which means that we end up with very little rubbish to deal with.”
The storeowner is Ingrid Caldironi, a young woman who was inspired to adopt zero waste habits in her own life after learning about Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers. What Caldironi learned quickly – as many of us have – is that it’s difficult to go zero waste at conventional grocery stores. Most are not willing to accommodate this seemingly extreme lifestyle habit.
So, Caldironi decided to open her own. She told The Independent:
“The idea came from my own needs. I wanted to support the right businesses and be able to shop without creating any waste, but there wasn't anything like that in London. I always thought waste was a natural output of modern living, but it turns out to be poor design. Things aren't designed in a circular economy mind-set yet.”
The Independent reports that the Bulk Market has been met with fanfare from locals, even elderly shoppers who view it nostalgically as a “war-time shopping experience, minus the ration cards.”
The store is currently in pop-up format, with three days left for a crowdfunding campaign that would help finance a move to a permanent location eventually. Caldironi’s long-term dream is to have a place for a glass-walled apiary, as well as a composting facility, where customers could bring their food scraps to a commercial-grade composting machine and take rich soil home as needed.
It’s wonderful to see this idea gaining traction – that the majority of our food products do not need to come in clear, hard shells and wreak havoc on the planet in the process. There is another way of nourishing ourselves, and people like Caldironi are persistent visionaries who will help make it happen.