My Dream

30 April 2015
I walk past this building every day.

I have never been inside but am often gazing longingly through the window. The mixed business convenience store has nothing inside I want. I only peer through the window dreaming for what I wish it could be.

If the building went to sale tomorrow and at the same time I won the lottery – I would buy it. I’d quit my job and put everything I had into making this place a hub of massive plastic free and zero waste proportions. It would be a sustainability mecca for the western Melbourne suburbs.

Like No Plastic Fruit and Vegetables I would work actively to create a store void of plastic.

There would be no plastic bags. No plastic receipts. No plastic anything. I would aim to make it as natural as I possibly could.

The walls would be lined with wooden containers housing the staples sans any packaging. Flour (gluten and gluten free), rice, salt, sugar, quinoa, nuts, cereals, dried pastas, beans – the whole gambit would be housed there. And on the identification labels, next to the weight would be a detailed description of how the item is transported to the store, in what material and if the packaging is returned to the supplier for reuse or how it is recycled by my store.

There would be barrels of olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, tamari, almond oil, vinegar, tahini, nut butters and honey. If there is something missing, then the shopper can let me know and I will see if I can stock it.

Hard to source items would be available like tofu, olives, nori, soba noodles. Milk, yogurt, cream would come to us in glass jars that would have a 10c refund scheme. I wold sell butter unwrapped – just bring your container and tell us how much you would like. Cheese would come in wax without a sticky label.

And I would have a small range of broths frozen for people to take home in winter.

A collection of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit from local farmers would be available without those annoying plastic stickers.

There would be a counter with freshly made condiments and spreads like mustard, tomato sauce, jams and maybe even a Vegemite equivalent that people could buy with their own jars.

Oh and there would be a aisle of tea and coffee too.

On one wall there would be taps ready to pour alcohol. Patrons would visit with their growlers and empty wine bottles to fill with beer, wine, vodka, whiskey and any other locally made alcohol. The empty barrels would be collected and swapped by the delivery team for new flavors and blends – but never new bottles.

Then there would be the cleaning products. Safe and simple ready to go into reusable containers to take home. I would sell a collection of natural and locally made cleaning items too not made of synthetic fibers.

Bulk buying options for beauty products would be available. Rosehip oil, jojoba oil, select essential oils, cocoa butter, beeswax, massage oils, activated charcoal, clay and also suitable containers to put your homemade beauty into. Because sometimes it can be hard to find those. Customers could pick up a bamboo toothbrush too.

The store would own a truck, fitted out with bulk containers. Once a fortnight I would visit rural communities on the outskirts of Melbourne’s western suburbs allowing keen locals to buy items from the truck in their own containers like olive oil or vinegar or floor cleaner. The community would be so inspired they would start their own bulk co-op store.

Because this is Australia and our mornings revolve around brunch there would be a cafe within. It would be modelled off a venue in Berlin where I had a treasured dining experience, enjoyed not just because it was my brother’s birthday (that is a big contributing factor of it being a fond memory) but for the simplicity. Patrons would enjoy hearty vegetarian and vegan meals with no plates over $10.

A set amount of food would be made each day and if the meals ran out before the store closed then that's just the way it is. I would not over cater. There would be no food waste, everything would be composted and I would not offer take away unless the patron had their own to-go containers – this includes coffee. Nope, not even bio takeaway coffee cups would be available in this cafe. You either have to bring your own or sit down to enjoy your coffee. There would also be no straws available either.

Also, I would offer to take customers vegetable scraps for compost. It’s only neighborly.

It is close to the train station, has ample parking and is a stone’s throw away from a busy main street. I would have space for classes on plastic free & zero waste living and host local community groups.

Right now it’s just a dream.

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