Sasha opened the zero-waste and package-free food products shop, the first of its kind in Košice one year ago. She tries to sell products from the Slovak territory, without packaging, loose without plastique bags. Pastas, rice, dried beans, seeds, dried fruits are available in her tiny but convivial shop.
An urge to get rid of plastic
First day in Košice (pronounced « Kochitsé »). On our way to the bar, we were wandering in the streets of the city. A small park. An ordinary street corner. Ordinary ? Not that ordinary. A large window-display caught our attention and perfectly did its job as a shop-front. The owner ? Sasha, a Slovakian girl who lived abroad for a long time (diplomat father and personal travels). During her travels, she developed a strong aversion against plastic. In some countries, like India, there is no garbage bins, nor garbage collections. But even in European countries, we can still find garbage on the floor. In Barcelona, Spain, she got inspiration for a loose products shop and when she came back to Slovakia, she decided to opened her own loose-food + zero-waste shop.
A tiny shop, but huge hopes
It took a year to open the shop. Economic authorities didn’t believe in her concept even though it already existed in Bratislava, the capital city. It took 6 months to convince the administration to receive all the authorizations. The she had to find the place. She finally ended with this tiny-but-enough local.
Her shop became famous really fast. Indeed, many people were just waiting for such initiative in Košice, because they want to become more ecological. In Slovakia it is possible to sort garbage. But how to reduce wastes when all the supermarkets only offers plastic bags and plastic packaging ?
At Na Kôpke, you can find pastas, rice, spices, nuts, dried fruits, dried beans,, biscuits… “Unfortunately, we can’t find every food products in Slovakia. The most frustrating thing, is that when food is eventually produced in Slovakia, most of it is exported. And the most absurd thing, is that those same food types, are imported from foreign countries…” This is globalization.
Everybody finds his groove
Additionally, Sasha wants her shop to be a convivial meeting place. Supermarkets have no soul, are very impersonal, without any relationship between sellers and customers. Na Kôpke is not like that. Sasha knows her products and can easily guide her customers to the products they need. A discussion is born ! Exchanges, dialogues, recipes are shared, new suppliers to complete the network… Her shop became a meeting point for customers.
While satisfying her buyer clients, she could raise awareness with the neighborhood with limited budget. Indeed, it is possible to buy gram by gram products, tight budgets can find their groove !
Through awareness, Sasha convinced her regular customers to bring their own containers (paper bags, glass jars, reusable boxes, fabric bags…). She provides papers bags for those who don’t have it. Moreover, her biggest challenge is also to convince her suppliers and the producers to use reusable containers. She convince half of them within one year which is great. She receives boxes, or big jars, or cardboard containers that are reusable, send them back to the suppliers, who fill it again. Maybe it needs more logistic, it takes more space, but in the end it is less pollution and cheaper.
Not a brand new concept
As we said, Sasha’s shop is not a brand new idea. The zero-waste store concept already exists throughout the world and also in Bratislava. “It’s nothing new. It used to be like this 50 years ago. Our grand parents didn’t even know what plastic was, there was no plastic in Czechoslovakia. You would go to a shop and the seller would ask you how much grams you want of the product […] So we’re basically going back to something that already existed. It’s just that in the last 50 years, because of globalization, because of a fast way of life, the packaging and the plastic bags happened. But this is not what I want to promote. I want to promote slow life and minimalism which is a part of a zero-waste lifestyle”.
She doesn’t intend to get bigger. But she would like to aware even more by organizing discussion and workshop about zero-waste lifestyle, like how to realize your own cosmetic or house cleaning products.
Within her first 6 months, new shops opened in Košice with the same zero-waste concept. Who said that this kind of shop could work ?
You can visit her website if you want, but it is not really maintained… a good illustration of minimalism and simplicity !