A New Twist on Recycling

How many unused items do you own?  The city of Berlin, Germany estimates that every household has almost 250 unused items. This is a real problem considering Berlin has a goal of eventually becoming a zero-waste city. So how do you get people to reuse items when it’s so easy to find replacements?

One idea they’re trying is called B-Warenhaus (a pun on the German words for “conserve” and “warehouse”). The city has leased 7000 square feet on the third floor of a department store for six months and made the space available to existing secondhand stores and nonprofits. Not only does this create a massive secondhand shop inside an established store, it also serves as an education center, holding events on how to repair and reuse products from electronics to clothes.

Given the trend toward more online shopping, there is some risk. But large secondhand stores are well established in other European cities; for example, ReTuna, is a “recycling mall” in Sweden.

After the six months are up, the plan is to establish three to four similar permanent stores in Berlin, or ‘warehouses of the future’ as they are being called. These will include a shop, space for workshops and events, ‘repair cafés,’ and food and beverages; the food will be made from ingredients that are expired but still edible.

Having a major city get to zero waste is an ambitious goal, so B-Warenhaus is an important step in that direction. I wish them well.

Taken from “This city-run secondhand department store is helping Berlin reduce waste” by Adele Peters (https://www.fastcompany.com/90553437/this-city-run-secondhand-department-store-is-helping-berlin-reduce-waste).

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