Our waste-free journey so far has been eye-opening, and we are discovering so many amazing, local brands that offer some of the most awesome products.
The goal with this series is to showcase these brands so that you can start to realise that leading a sustainable, zero-waste life is possible.
We are starting with Unwrapped Co because they are the first brand I made a big switch too. We now get 90% of our dry goods from Unwrapped!
Brand Name: The Unwrapped Co.
Do you have a retail store, an online store or both? (If your products are available in other stores, please add those as well).
The Unwrapped Co is an online store.
We also have a small selection of products available at Brik Cafe, The Nest Space (also online only since lockdown) and REEA gardens – Straight from the Ground.
What products do you offer?
A wide variety of pantry foods (grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, flours, oil and vinegar) dispensed into returnable glass jars. We also stock a variety of zero waste lifestyle goods to help eliminate plastic in all the different aspects of your life.
What made you start this business?
The business evolved out of my own attempt at zero waste living – back then (haha, we’re literally talking only 2 years ago) there were very limited options and I’d constantly be tossing up between driving out a tank of petrol for my plastic-free cause or just walking to the local shops and purchasing all my goods in plastic. I really wished for a local zero waste store, and that’s when the idea took root and sprouted into the small business we are today. My biggest desire is to make zero waste shopping accessible and affordable for anyone to try.
How do you choose the brands you work with?
The ideal of a zero waste store is to minimize waste all along the supply chain, which means I need to build a relationship with the brands I work with so that they not only understand but also love the ethics my business is built upon.
For some products this does simply and unglamorously mean bulk buying – but then the supplier knows without being asked that I want the bulk stock and not the repackaged goods. I most love the local brands that are willing to give me refills, thereby totally eliminating single use packaging.
Other really important aspects are sourcing locally grown and/or manufactured goods, natural earth-friendly products, and supporting local small businesses just like ourselves. We’re really excited about growing relationships with local growers and makers to create a more sustainable food supply chain.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Living a fine balance of not taking more than the natural world can give, so that future generations can also still enjoy our beautiful planet. I love the concept of a circular economy and believe this is the way forward for sustainable living – that almost nothing ends up being waste – everything can be reused or recycled (not downcycled) or rotted.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there when it comes to sustainable living?
I really dislike the term conscious consumerism – consumerism is at odds with sustainability. I’m not saying we can’t live and live well, but put simply, a person with 20 pairs of “ethical” shoes has a bigger carbon footprint than the person with one pair of cheap plastic tekkies. Sustainable living starts with assessing one’s own lifestyle and for me, that was (and still is!) sobering.
There’s also a misconception that there’s no point to living sustainably, that as an individual it makes no difference. But if we aren’t part of the tide of change, who is? I’d love to encourage everyone to make a small step towards a more sustainable lifestyle, as collectively, this can make a difference.
What tip/s would you give to someone just starting out on their waste-free journey?
Don’t get overwhelmed – simply make changes one at a time, and be totally comfortable with a change before taking on a new challenge. Start with easy swops eg bamboo toothbrushes or taking reusable shopping bags on grocery trips. Chances are, once you’ve got the easy changes into your routine, tackling the harder ones becomes something you look forward to.
You don’t need to throw your normal shopping routine out of whack from day. Simply become more observant at your local stores for products that are sold package-free, or in glass or paper packaging and choose those above their plastic wrapped counterparts.
What has been the most challenging part about living a zero-waste life?
Zero waste living definitely takes some preplanning – and as anyone that knows me well can tell you, I love to fly by the seat of my pants. This means you’ll still see me every now and then panic-buying at the local shops for the evening’s dinner. It’s challenging to live a “slow” life in a fast-paced society. I often catch myself grabbing for convenience when life gets busy. Convenience is always bubble-wrapped 😉
It’s also challenging to accept that perfection isn’t achievable – that certain necessities in our household are always going to be in plastic, that I simply can’t trip all over town to find everything I need plastic-free and I’m not going to never give my child a strawberry because of the packaging it comes in. I loved to overthink every purchase. But I’ve taken Anne-Marie Bonneau’s words to heart where she says: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. So rather inspire others to change!
What are 3 of your favourite products within your range?
My favourite products are intricately linked with my own zero waste journey – so right now, I’m in love with Earthly tooth bits, as I’ve finally found a local waste-free dental routine that works for me.
I really love Natural Orange laundry soap. Believe me, with a baby in nappies, I wash a lot. I adore the fresh clean smell of the laundry when I hang it up to dry. It’s natural and grey water friendly too.
Lastly, I love my ritual of a good coffee on the go. Here I love our coffee beans (that I get in refills from the roasters) and my trusty ecoffee cup.
But my list could go on…;-)
If you are based in Gauteng please give the Unwrapped Co a try! My family waits at the gate every Wednesday waiting for our deliveries to arrive.
My Favourite Unwrapped Co Products
Watch this video to find out what my 3 favourite Unwrapped Co products are!