Located in an unassuming shophouse at the Sembawang Hills Estate, UnPackt is a grocery store with a difference.
However, it is not that UnPackt is a DIY grocery store where you have to bring your own containers, nor is it that UnPackt stocks its shelves with some hard-to-find reusable items. Instead, the real difference is that UnPackt provides a conscionable entry point for anyone interested in adopting a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
Owned by Florence Tay, 36, and Jeff Lam, 38, UnPackt opened in early May 2018. With floor-to-ceiling glass frontage, the zero-waste store’s exterior beckons passers-by to enter in.
Inside, store’s decor adheres to the zero-waste mantra. Functional shelving line the walls, giving the store a chic, minimalist look.
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At UnPackt, the emphasis is on reducing waste.
By bringing their own containers to the store to collect produce, customers can help to reduce the reliance on plastic food packaging – much of which gets discarded once it has served its purpose.
Those who don’t have a recycled container can get one from the store.
Shopping Without Waste
The store sells a mix of organic and non-organic dry food items. This includes pasta from Italy, grains from Australia and snacks such as flavoured nuts.
There are also tins filled with local biscuits and titbits – highly popular with kids.
Non-edible goods available at the store include household cleaners and toiletries.
All of these are sold by weight.
To purchase an item, begin by weighing up your container and proceeding to dispense the amount of the product you need into the container. Weigh it up again to find the difference and how much you need to pay.
Get What You Need
However, the store’s theme of zero waste extends beyond simply bringing your own containers.
In contrast to big bulk purchase stores which promise savings for large-quantity purchases, UnPackt advocates purchasing only what you need.
Rather than buying in excess and possibly having to throw away unused food, at UnPackt, you can purchase the amount you need. Without the need to buy pre-packed quantities, you can possibly enjoy a smaller quantity of a healthier, organic product and have a lower overall bill.
Besides food items, UnPackt also sells reusable items. These include collapsible bottles and collapsible coffee cups – perfect to whip out the next time you feel the urge for a kopi.
Passing On The Message
Speaking with co-owner Florence, it is clear that she believes in helping her customers find their own level when it comes to reducing waste.
Not only does she encourage customers to buy based on what they need but also offers tips on how to reduce waste. For example, she recommends bringing a reusable container to any local provision shop when purchasing items like dry goods to reduce the unnecessary use of plastics.
She also shares how UnPackt allows parents to introduce children to an alternative to food-packaging-heavy retailers. As a mom herself, she believes that parents have an important role to play in educating children about reducing waste. She also believes in passing on this message on to her child. And perhaps, it is ultimately such conviction that really sets UnPackt apart as a grocery store with a difference.
Where: 6 Jalan Kuras, Singapore 577724