EKOPLAZA: we visit the world's first plastic-free supermarket!
BY LISA FAWSITT
Having our beloved Lisa living in Amsterdam finally has an upside! We sent her down to Ekoplaza, a Dutch organic supermarket chain making history by completely eliminating plastic packaging... a Dam after our own heart!
It’s a beautiful cold day in Amsterdam. Although we’ve been struck by the beast from the east, we are without snow, which is fortunate because it means I can get out walking. I decide to take to the streets and check out Amsterdam’s first plastic free pop-up. There’s been a lot of hype about this in the press so I’m naturally curious. It’s also something I’ve been agonising over for months… because the larger supermarkets here feel particularly bad for wrapping everything in plastic portions, forcing me to buy 4 apples instead of one, and damaging the environment at the same time. Extremely frustrating for a conscious consumer.
As I walk through the heavily signed doors, I’m surprised to see shelves and shelves of what clearly look like plastic packaged products. Other customers are as baffled as I am, examining the products with careful wonder…perhaps a little disappointed because it all looks the same as any other store. However we’re wrong. The packaging is remarkably similar to plastic, it has the same look and feel, however rather than being a non-destructible threat to our environment, the substance is made of cellulose fiber that actually decomposes over time, a revolution in my eyes! How have they not thought of this before?! I was expecting a rather unpractical alternative, but this seems like a no brainer.
It’s a shame that the clerk has limited English because I’m dying to ask a million questions, such as, do they need to increase all their prices in order to keep it plastic free, and is the alternative difficult to produce? It would be a shame to think that plastic free is only possible for the middle class due to it’s price point. I purchase a small bag of nuts and a box of tea for €6.20, not the cheapest. But then again we need to give them a chance to get the ball rolling. A little push from Theresa May and her contemporaries might just do that.
I for one am feeling much more positive about the plastic epidemic after visiting Ekoplaza. That, coupled with a recent trip to The Philippines where we came across a small town that had banned the use of plastic straws in all their bars and restaurants, has given me hope that change can happen. We just need to support those trying to start the process.