I’ve recently started paying more attention to waste. According to an EU study, every person living in Denmark produces 668 kilograms of waste each year. A lot of the waste a typical household produces is plastic, for example from food packaging, and plastic is notoriously hard to dispose of.
For example, I always get annoyed at individually plastic-wrapped cucumbers! Why is this necessary? Why can’t we do the same as for bell peppers, zucchini etc. and just leave them be? It may be different at your local greengrocer, but in supermarkets, plastic-wrapped cucumbers are a more than common sight.
As I was googling around and browsing sustainability blogs for good ideas to reduce waste, I came across Løs Market – the first zero-waste supermarket in Copenhagen.
Of course I had to pay it a visit.
What’s a zero-waste supermarket?
In a zero-waste, or package-free supermarket, everything is sold without packaging, in an attempt to reduce waste, especially unnecessary plastic waste. Customers bring their own containers, fill them up with the products, and then pay based on weight or volume. It’s as easy as that.
How does it work?
It’s pretty easy, really. You bring your own selection of containers – alternatively, they have some jars, bottles, and fabric bags there – and simply fill them up with what your heart desires. Here are the 4 easy steps:
- Weigh your container and print the little label that states the empty weight – so it can be subtracted at the register.
- Fill your container up with what you like – e.g. oats, muesli, or wine.
- Repeat until you have all you need.
- Go to the register and pay.
Easy-peasy! And if you spontaneously decide to buy more than you planned for, there’s a small selection of donated containers that people have left for others to take (side note: if you have a leftover container, it could be nice to leave it there – paying it forward!). Note that you can’t take your own bottles, but there are 250ml, 500ml and 700ml bottles available for a deposit – pay the first time and then exchange for a clean bottle next time around.
What can I buy here?
Lots of things! The focus is on dry goods and pantry staples, such as pasta, rice and other grains, oats, different types of flours, sugar, nuts and seeds, muesli and breakfast cereals, coffee, and tea. There are snacks like chocolate-covered popcorn, dried fruits, gummy bears, and cookies. You’ll also find tons of different spices. In another room, you’ll find liquid products: oils and vinegar, wines, and honey. There’s even a little fridge with eggs. There’s a selection of veggies available as well, and a section with soap bars and cleaning supplies – you can find the whole list here (in Danish). All products are 100% organic.
How expensive is it?
Here’s what I bought, so you get a feeling for the price levels:
- 500ml Greek olive oil, DKK 52
- Deposit for glass bottle, DKK 10
- 440g conchiglie pasta, DKK 14.96
- 516g polenta, DKK 16.51
- 166g vegan gummy bears, DKK 36.19
I was pleasantly surprised by both the selection and the prices. They have some products that are hard to find otherwise, except maybe in health food stores such as Helsam or Helsemin, and you get to buy exactly the quantity you want – which is especially practical for small or one-person households. I’ll come back soon with some small containers for different spices, and to try out some “new” grains, nuts, and dried fruits.
Yes, it does require a little bit of planning, as you have to bring your containers with you (unless you want to buy new jars there every time). But it’s not like you do all of your weekly groceries there, so I found it quite doable, even though it meant I took a tote bag full of glass containers to work and jingled-all-the-way!
What do you think about package-free supermarkets? Feel like giving Løs Market a try? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Løs Market | Saxogade 77, 1662 Copenhagen | loes-market.dk