How to shop for package free food in Copenhagen

The issue of single use plastic is one that we hear a lot about and I have written about ways we can personally reduce our use before {links here and here} but it is essential that retailers and food manufacturers start to actually take the issue seriously as well. As consumers we can vote with our wallets and chose to go to places that offer either package free shopping or are making steps to reduce their dependency on single use packaging.

Miljøstyrelsen (the Danish environmental protection agency)states that plastic packaging accounts for 177,373 tons of waste in Denmark {source} but it is estimated that only around 15% of this gets recycled. Whilst a number of kommunes (local authorities) take plastic for recycling not all do.

The most obvious place in Copenhagen and the one that is leading the charge is Løs Market {link}, Denmark’s first package free grocery shop. You can either bring your own bag or box or buy one from there to use again. They offer a wide variety of both dry and wet goods and have two shops in Copenhagen – one in Vesterbro and a newly opened one in Nørrebro. Check out their website for more information {link}.

Meny supermarket {link} in Nordhavn is a test bed for the introduction of  a large package free shopping with three schemes in store. Firstly an area selling dry goods such as pasta and cereals. They also have a machine dispensing milk into your own glass bottle. You can buy the first bottle for around 10dkk and each time there is a steamer to clean the bottle before refilling. They also sell eggs singularly so you can buy as many or as few as you need. Not only do these schemes reduced plastic waste but also food waste. I urge you to support this so Meny see it as a viable solution for their other stores.

With spices you can go to ASA Spice {link} in Torvehallerne and they will refill your jars or bags for you rather than using a new bag and they are giving 20% off your purchase. They also sell great affordable glass jars for this to get you started but you don’t need to use theirs.

Other ways to reduce packaging is to buy fruit and vegetables loose from greengrocers (great ones on Istedgade and also Nørrebrogade but all over the city) and also some supermarkets offer a selection of loose produce, normally fruit and potatoes. Rema 1000 {link} is a great supermarket for this and one of the ones leading the way on food waste. It is also a decent discount supermarket. They have brought in a number of initiatives to help reduce plastic waste including meat containers made from recyclable PET plastic (they aim to sell all meat, fish and poultry in these containers making it easier for consumers to recycle the packaging) and they sell milk in squishy containers which significantly reduced the amount of plastic waste.  So wins on many fronts.

You can take your own reusable produce bags such as these {link} to the supermarket and greengrocers if you don’t want the fruit to get in contact with other shopping. You can also buy wax paper to wrap cheese and similar foods in rather than clingfilm from many places online but also in Hahnemann’s Køkken {link} in Østerbro if you want to support a bricks and mortar shop.

Nemlig, the online grocers, recently introduced a scheme where you can return the plastic bags your shopping comes in to the delivery person and they say the company will be recycling them. Nemlig states, “We are very excited about our efforts to reduce plastic waste and help create a more sustainable use of soft plastic.” But not excited enough to publicise it on their front page so I doubt that many people take it up. It also seems to be a little bit of a token effort as they still use an excessive amount of single use plastic, for example single fruits and vegetables in a plastic bag inside the larger plastic bag. I asked them about plans to reduce this and they said they couldn’t answer my question about that at the moment. They also said it was too early to gauge the success of the bag return scheme but as it is buried in their website I fear that the findings will not support it as a scheme. So if you do shop at Nemlig check out this page {link} for information on this and return your bags. Hopefully it will help the scheme be more successful.

As consumers we need to support and put pressure on retailers and councils to address the issue, we can’t do it alone.

To help you find the places mentioned I’ve made a handy Google Map below.

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