There are many amazing Zero Waste initiatives out there already. We’re going to introduce you to the pioneers of Zero Waste shopping, dining, living… Our first guest post was written by Eunice, co-owner of Maria Granel, the first Zero Waste Store in Portugal.
He brings in his memory that lush green of the islands, the endless pastures that only end up in the cobalt blue of the ocean, between the embrace of the hydrangeas and the gentle rhythm of the seasons. He grew up among gardens and plantations of pineapple, passion fruit and banana trees, ran and played barefoot, learned to listen to the whisper of the Earth.
She belongs to a family of farmers who cultivated the land for several generations. The same green, perhaps more shredded among farms, abundant with springs, pulsating between the granite massifs and the streams, running between the corn and the vine. The same murmur of the earth, ancestral, unfathomable, magical.
And what to do when life drags us to other places, far from our origins? The answer is to bring a little of this world to the city, close to us, and offer nature’s best.
This is how the idea of Maria Granel was born.
Maria Granel is an organic bulk grocery store, the first Portuguese “Zero Waste Store”. We’ve opened its doors in Alvalade in November 2015.
The store concept recovers the collective imagination of our old neighborhood grocers: the wonderful smell of coffee and nuts, the personalized and attentive service of those who always know our name and our tastes, and, of course, the selling in bulk, but with a touch of modernity and assuming sustainability as main concern.
Our products are presented in individual dispensers, from which people can serve directly.
We are the first store in Portugal, and one of the pioneers in Europe with no packaging selling exclusively in bulk. We were also very proud, internationally referenced as the introducers of the BYOC (“Bring your own container”) system in the national market.
Those who visit us can bring their containers from home, to refill them with the products they need. This choice is deliberate, conscious. A contribution. A gesture to have a considerable impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions and the amount of waste destined for landfills and incinerators.
In addition, by encouraging the purchase only of the amount you actually need, we will also be reducing food waste.
The commitment to sustainability also extends to the fact that our products are 100% certified organic, free of genetically modified organisms, respecting the soil and the rhythm of the seasons and the earth. They are more nutritious, free of pesticides and herbicides, and therefore preserving their minerals and a high content of vitamins, slowly produced in fertile soils, respecting the cycles and rhythms of nature (“There is a time to sow and another to harvesting “) and thus promoting sustainable practices with a positive impact on the ecosystem. We started with 240 products and at the moment we have almost 500.
And if our inspiration is traditional, our mission is totally committed to the present and dedicated to the future. We believe it is possible to consume more sustainably, reducing waste, valuing quality, rather than quantity. So we will do our part for future generations to inherit a better world.
We were welcomed in the Alvalade neighborhood (one of the most vibrants neighborhoods of Lisbon) with open arms, with affection and with enthusiasm. People encouraged our concept and our mission. We were aware that we were changing minds and that we have contributed to a more responsible and sustainable consumption.
One of the most striking initiatives of our (short) history was precisely the support of the city council of Alvalade and its president, Dr. André Caldas: we were the hosts of the visit to Portugal (for the first time) of Bea Johnson, the founder of the international movement “Zero Waste Home”, to which CNN, the Financial Times and the New York Times, among other media, have dedicated reports, highlighting her philosophy of life, centered on minimalism and sustainability .
Together, we held a presentation conference on the “Zero Waste Lifestyle” in the council’s auditorium on July 8, 2016. We believe that this opportunity has changed national consciousnesses and mentalities.
The event attracted the attention of the media, who dedicated numerous articles and reports to the initiative and lifestyle of Bea.
Following this conference, we contacted Editorial Presença, suggesting the publication in Portugal of the translation of Bea, Zero Waste Home, a best seller in its category on Amazon. And we did it! In September of 2016, the book was on the pews and was released in our store, including our preface.
Two years after our opening, we continue to actively intervene in the community, encouraging the adoption of environmentally friendly gestures: we have a “Zero Program” in place, which rewards those who bring their jars, reusing and refilling them, to stock up in the store, thus avoiding the use of plastic; we promote consulting, conferences and informal conversations in a corporate environment, sharing our path and testimony of sustainability with national and international companies, NGOs and other entities; regular workshops in the store on the theme.
Recently we accompanied a group of students from a local high school for a week, supervising a “Change it” project on the steps the school could take to be a greener space (garbage collection; installation and artistic exhibition with collected waste, conference with Ana Pêgo, marine biologist responsible for the “Plasticus Maritimus” project.
In October 2017 we were invited to share our experience as a zero waste store at the International Zero Waste Week in Brazil.
We are now consolidating our presence in the market and we have already online sales. Since July, with our participation in the Plastic Free July challenge, we added zero waste accessories to our portfolio .
We hope to have the privilege of receiving you when you come to Portugal. We’re going to love to meet you!
Find Maria Granel in Lisboa, Portugal on Rua José Duro, 22B