I ended up in Frankenstein’s shop. Luckily, no monsters are walking out the door, and the jars and bowls don’t contain kidneys or brains. Contrary, something beautiful is being created here.
There really are only jars and containers on the shelves. Their content is waiting to be poured into your jars and containers. And when they are empty, you just come back and fill them up again. Of course by paying for the content, but not for the wrapping material, nor for the recycling costs and especially not for the environmental impact of the package material you are not using in this chain.
In the mean time you don’t use any single-used plastic or wrapping material. This is a zero-waste shop. The only one on the island, but not the only one in Thailand, nor in the world. Hopefully it will become the start of something beautiful; a creation back to purity, the content without the distracting – and polluting – wrap.
They are not here for a year yet, the lady of the shop tells me, but they are here to stay, and hopefully set an example for other shops. However, I wished they were located in the middle of the centre, preferably at the pier where boats are coming on, showing what they’ve got, the groceries in all their vulnerability and essence, no waste to hide. But they are not. They are located in an outskirt of the island, where I only end up because of looking for it.
However, the shop is awesome. Gaia sells a lot of basic stuff, as dried fruit and nuts, flour and sugar, cooking oil and peanuts butter; most of it self-made, even self-made on the island. Imagine the impact of this stuff: no plastic trail and no trail out of the mainland. Moreover, some of the products are organic and kind of home-made, reducing its impact even more. The body lotions, shampoos and soaps, for instance, do not contain chemicals and can be tapped into your empty flacon.
I end up with a piece of organic nuts cake – thanks without gluten and milk – and a bar of soap, which is made on the island without chemicals and will reduce to something without chemicals, having spent its entire life in an old paper magazine wrap, rather than a polluting plastic bottle.
There are a lot of possibilities, and for those who don’t travel around with empty bottles or jars – as me basically – the shop even has empty jars waiting to become yours. Polluting? No, they are recycled, since other islanders bring in the jars after their end-of-lifetime to start a new life.
Hence, bringing the three key words of proper waste management together: reduce, re-use and recycle. On which I come back in next post.