IF YOU ever find yourself eyeing the kitchen bin guiltily, with its vast mound of plastic packets, cardboard containers and wrappers, you might be interested to know there's a whole movement that aims to go one better than even recycling - precycling, or cutting out packaging in the first place.
Among those at the forefront of this consumer revolution is Unpackaged, a first-of-its-kind shop that eschews all packaging and invites customers to bring in their own containers to stock up on essentials such as flour, cereals, nuts, pasta, rice, lentils and so on.
Bring bottles for oils, apple juice, wine and even gin. Simply weigh your container when you arrive so it can be deducted from the overall weight and then start filling.
Not only will you save money but by foregoing packaging you'll reduce the amount of material waste being sent to landfills or incinerated.
Although Unpackaged has been operating out of Islington since 2007, it has just moved into a new store in Hackney, east London.
With the larger space it can now offer a greater range of products, as well as a bar and cafe (headed by chef Kate de Syllas, a well-known local chef who previously worked at Dalston's A Little of What You Fancy).
Unpackaged was founded six years ago by Catherine Conway, who got the idea while decanting rice from a plastic packet into a jar at home.
She started out doing market stalls specialising in eco products and a small range of wholefoods and nuts.
The company has a clear philosophy that includes sourcing organic, fair-trade products where possible, supporting artisan local producers and applying the principles of the waste hierarchy - reduce, reuse, recycle - to all parts of its operation.
"We've really upgraded our systems, our dispensers, and we've got more range."
This commitment to reducing waste and packaging is present in every aspect of the store.
As well as using unsold produce in the cafe, instead of printing off labels for products it uses black tiles with erasable white wax pencils.
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