Tag Archives: Slow Food

“…it’s just so last century”

29 May

For the last Wednesday in May we were inspired to share about a grocery store in London, UK that offers only reusable packaging!  It’s called Unpackaged and began as a London market stall in 2006.

unpackaged veggiesUnpackaged is a unique and brilliant concept that is so simple it hurts, especially considering the sheer amount of packaging waste that is ridiculously filling our planet’s landfill sites. Within the beautifully designed shop, organic whole foods, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, even refillable oils, vinegars and wines are all available to place straight into your own containers, that you will have brought along with you … if you haven’t then reusable bags are available.” (weheart.com)

Unpackaged’s philosophy is really quite inspiring.  We’ve found many locally owned grocery stores are almost packaging-free but still use bulk bin plastic bags, disposable containers, single-use wrapping, etc.  Unpackaged has banned all packaging whatsoever!  In their own words..

The Problem with Packaging

Whilst some packaging is necessary in our modern industrialised food chain, unnecessary packaging is a waste:

Cost: It increases the price of the goods you buy. You are charged twice – first when you buy overpackaged products and then through council tax for disposing of your rubbish.

Waste: It wastes resources at every level: production, storage, transport and disposal.

Pollution: Landfill and incineration are the two main ways of dealing with un-recyclable packaging waste. These are major pollutants for people and the environment as they release greenhouse gases.

What about recycling? While some packaging is recycled, most ends up in landfill sites and some packaging is difficult and impossible to recycle. Recycling is certainly part of the solution, but it will only work if we use less packaging and adopt more ‘reusable’ ways of doing things – Unpackaged is based on this ethos.


Reduce by only buying what you need
Reuse by bringing your containers for a refill
Recycle what you can’t reuse

And… if you can’t reuse or recycle it then don’t buy it!

unpackaged bulk bins

“It’s hard to visit a landfill site without being struck by the craziness of taking very valuable minerals and resources out of the ground, using a lot of energy, turning them into short life products and then just dumping them back into the ground. It’s an absolutely monumental waste of energy and resources. As someone from the fashion industry might say, its just so last century.” (Michael Pawlyn, The Guardian, November 21 2005)


Slow Cities

25 Jul

There are 120 towns within 16 countries in the world that have met the criteria to be named “Slow Cities” or “Cittaslow.” This idea of slow cities emerged out of the Slow Food movement in 1999 that began as an attempt to preserve Italian culture. Towns and cities must meet specific criteria to fit under the Cittaslow certification…

pedestrian walkways, no big box or chain stores, a population of less than 50 thousand.

Recently Cowichan Bay in British Columbia became the first North American town to be recognized as fitting this Slow City cultural identity and Naramata, British Columbia is soon to become Canada’s second Cittaslow. As well, Sonoma, California at the end of November will become the first Cittaslow in the United States. This idea of slowing down, and striving for a Slow City identity is spreading throughout North America.

Before Cowichan Bay in British Columbia was recognized, many thought it would be impossible for a North American town or city to be a Slow City. We are so accustomed to our cities and towns that are built upon foundations of business. Our cities are literally developed around this fast-paced lifestyle whether that be our streets, or the many fast food restaurants in our culture. Whether or not our Canadian cities have the ability to reach legitimate certification (also considering population must be under 50,000), we can still strive for slower paced lifestyles.

“My hope is that Cowichan Bay will emerge as a model. Not every location will choose to be a Slow City, but at least some of the philosophy could be adopted by more and more North American places. Cities, towns and neighbourhoods could benefit by understanding the positive effects of living more slowly.”

Since our North American cities were built around automobiles, we must approach this philosophy from a neighbourhood level in larger cities.

Hydra, one of the Greek Islands was built around a slow city mentality right from the start. It cannot even accommodate vehicles, so all forms of transportation aside from walking or donkey is prohibited. While prohibiting automobiles at all times would be much to challenging for our society, it is possible that our cities could adapt to vehicle prohibition in busy pedestrian areas on weekends.

So where do we start as individuals in communities built around fast-paced vehicle transportation? How do we become Slow City minded people?

Choose the slower mode of transportation for a change. Bike, or walk. Last summer I had the opportunity to spend some time in Amsterdam. I rented a bicycle to get around and was able to see so much more, and experienced a slower mindset as much of the city does choose bicycles as there means of transportation.

Take the train. In Canada while travelling from province to province we would normally drive a vehicle or take a plane. We often do not even think of the train as an option. I took the train from Saskatoon to Winnipeg this past March and although it took a bit longer than by car, I saw the prairies from an entirely new lens.

Skip the fast food. Make the time to cook at home or choose a local restaurant to sit down at for a change. Cowichan Bay, British Columbia has no fast food restaurants and takes pride in their local restaurants that line its streets.

What are you, your towns, or your cities doing to adopt a Slow City lifestyle? Let us know!