I never thought I would be writing about such a “simple” thing as going shopping but the experience I had this last weekend really deserves it.
My experience these days is that eating sustainable food has become a fulltime job and it is not cheap. If you go to a local market in Brussels it is possible to buy seasonal products and if you try even harder you can even find out where the products come from (but you are quite likely to go back with a good amount of plastic bags and other kinds of packaging).
During this last weekend that I spent in Tuscany I went to the most sustainable shop I’ve ever seen. In the shop Effecorta 80% of the products come from 70km around the Capannori municipality (aiming to get to 95%), many of them biological. But this is just the top of the iceberg; the shop adheres to the principle of Zero Waste and it doesn’t use any plastic bag or any non-reusable package. This is not only true for the tomatoes but also for soap, milk products, cosmetic creams, beer, wines, beans, rice, spices, salt, sugar… you name it! Everything they sell is in refillable, re-usable or/and biodegradable packaging.
– allows every buyer to buy according to its needs which minimises the waste eventually produced by normal packaged stuff and responsible for lots of food to be wasted (8.3 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year),
– saves us from having to check the source and composition of the products because you know they are all local and in most of the cases biological (time saving),
– contributes to minimise the waste generation at home (no waste packaging and a lot less food wasted).
Believe it or not because of what I explain above you end up spending (and buying) less than in a normal supermarket, even if you buy bio!
This initiative was started by 6 idealists from Tuscany in August 2009 and it has already achieved economic stability and from all the products, the sales of the biological products are increasing by a 20%.
A lot of people questioned in the beginning the quality of natural biological refillable soaps and others. For this reason the entrepreneurs gave to normal people (not the already convinced greeny) different soaps to try and in the end the customers decided to stay with the locally produced biological soap with the refillable packaging for pure practical and quality reasons. The customers of the shop are all kinds of people; the main aim being that this shop should be a normal shop of the future and not something strange thought for already aware people. I could see with my eyes that they are succeeding.
Personally, from all the amazing products I tried it surprised me a fantastic local beer, a really authentic wine (without sulfites!) and above all the fact of being in a shop without marketing; a shop where you see, smell and touch what you buy and not end up deciding according to the nice face on the packaging or anything except what matters. This reduces the bill because you get less distracted and you buy only what you need. How twisted can this society be when I can be surprised of being able to see what I buy?
Anyway, back to my cloudy Brussels now I can’t stop from wishing to have one day one of these shops close to my place. I know that there are other sustainable options in Brussels such as:
– the consumers cooperatives that I highly appreciate and value
– and reason2.be which offers online shopping of seasonal food and even meat with free delivery. It is not a shop as such but a delivery service of mostly organic and local products.
Unfortunately people with jobs like mine can’t use either of these two options because they require a commitment and regularity that I just can’t guarantee with a job that obliges me to travel constantly. Plus they only provide vegetables, fruits and a little more whilst Effecorta offers almost everything you need at home.
If the world is to be sustainable one day Effecorta is the shop of the future.