Saving The Planet One Store At A Time With Waitrose Unpacked

How Waitrose are helping the environment with their Plastic-Free Trial

Why my focus on Green Living

As Plato puts it — “Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

Once I started looking at the bigger picture and realised that we need to start taking action, I immediately began work on both this blog website, along with my and my eco-friendly store — . My goal is very simple — I want to encourage as many people as I can to turn a greener leaf.

The Waitrose Unpacked Initiative

The entire idea behind the unpacked project is to get people used to more sensible methods of packaging. The shop has, by their own words, unpacked 160 varieties of fruit and veggies, gotten rid of the plastic from their flowers and added 48 products to refill (ranging from pasta and grains to frozen fruits, coffee, alcoholic beverages and even cleaning products). All in all, that’s a fantastic initiative, and I really hope other stores across the UK follow suit (I’m looking at you, Tesco!).

They hope to achieve their goal by encouraging clients to bring along “their own reusable shopping bags and containers”. So far, so good, but what if you don’t have any reusable shopping bags or containers at home? Well, they’ve thought of that as well! The store is not only selling reusable grocery bags but also providing their members with a borrowing option.

When I read about all of that, I was thrilled. A store, offering high-quality fruits and veggies, that’s also running a green living initiative for 11 whole weeks? Sign me up! Naturally, I just had to drop by and see it for myself.

Our trip to Waitrose

Sadly, while London does have quite a few organic stores, we’re still somewhat lacking in the supermarket eco-friendly packaging department. Green stores are great and all, but most people would rather go for the more affordable supermarket chains.

We absolutely need more eco-friendly, organic fruit distributors in London! So, my Waitrose trip allowed me to hit two birds with one stone — not only did I get to see their Unpacked initiative in action, but I also managed to restock my fridge with fresh berries that should last me for a couple of days.

So, despite all of the green living ads online and large posters in-store, we still saw a lot of plastic. Most of the consumers seemed to have missed the eco-friendliness memo opting for the throw-away alternatives. We only managed to spot a couple of visitors with reusable containers. Waitrose did, however, have plenty of stands, offering 100% plastic-free products. There were also a lot of paper bags (less-than-ideal, but still bio-degradable), compostable bags and reusable bottles.

I had a quick chat with a cashier, who told me that they’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback so far and that they’ll stick to the idea for the whole 11 weeks. They’re committed to the cause, I’ll give them that!

All in all, the idea was great. I’d definitely give them an A for effort. It’s an excellent initiative and they really pulled through. At the end of the day, you just can’t expect everyone to embrace green living overnight. And let’s not forget that they are a business, and they need to care about sales (especially if they want to convince the higher-ups to repeat the initiative in the future). Plastics are, after all, a lot more convenient and easier to use. If you bring your own bags, not only do you need to pack them at home before you leave, but you’ll also need to clean and wash them after you get back. Naturally, most people don’t want to bother with that and just take the plastics whenever they can.

The final verdict

Is this project a good thing? Absolutely. As I said above, we definitely need more initiatives of this kind. We all need to take a good look around and realise the impact that we’ve had on the environment. And, since most people don’t like thinking about the consequences of their actions, they need to be gently nudged in the right direction. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of nudging myself, and I admit that it can get tiresome at times. Their way of tackling the plastic issue by renting out reusable containers is admirable and much safer than just selling throw-away ones, but, at the end of the day, it’s still plastic.

Hopefully, once the consumers are ready to fully embrace eco-friendliness, they can change over to glass, stainless steel or bamboo. Sure, glass can break, but, as long as you’re careful, it will last you for a while.

All in all, the initiative was a brilliant move in my opinion. It’s amazing how one simple innovation can not only change the course of an entire chain for the better, but also put them miles ahead of the competition. Well done, Waitrose! I can’t wait for London to get its own Unpacked initiative!

Wrapping it up

So, if you ever see a green initiative, even one that isn’t as amazing as you’d like, I wholeheartedly suggest that you support it. Pay it a visit, buy some products, chat with the employees and see what’s what. The more successful these types of projects are (usually measured in “sales” and “engagement”), the more of them we’re going to see in the near future. By attending them, you’re actually contributing to a greener future!

Well, that about wraps it up for today! Thank you all for reading this post, and I’ll see you next time when we’ll be back to our scheduled Property Investment program. After we’re done covering that, I’ll give you a quick write-up on the eco-friendly stores in London that I’ve personally shopped from, just in case this post made you think that there aren’t any.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got any thoughts or comments about the Waitrose Unpacked initiative, or, if you’ve attended similar events in the past, don’t hesitate to drop me a line in the comments below!

Originally published at on July 1, 2019.

Entrepreneur and eco-friendly enthusiast. I’m on a green mission to clean up the way we live. Share the passion — follow my journey now!

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