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Created on 28.09.2021

Mission sustainability: how one woman is doing her bit with a zero-packaging shop

Leading a mindful lifestyle is very important to Sabine. She works for PostFinance in Operational Procurement, and in October 2020, she opened a zero-packaging shop in Lützelflüh (canton of Bern). She explains in our interview how she ended up doing this, and how she tries to adopt a sustainable lifestyle herself.

Sabine Koch, why did you decide to open a zero-packaging shop?

I’ve always felt it’s important to treat the environment and the world around us with respect. A few years ago, I came across the term zero waste and the issue of plastic refuse. Wanting to do my bit to prevent waste, and especially to reduce plastic use, I gradually began buying products with either less plastic packaging or none at all. When I discovered how easy this was, I quickly realized I really wanted to do something in this area, which is why I opened a zero-packaging shop with two friends.

What are the key priorities in your shop?

The vast majority of our products come from Switzerland, and many from the local area. But, depending on the season, we do also supplement our range with things like figs from Turkey or oranges from Italy. We are constantly reviewing and improving our range, and, wherever possible, we use reusable systems so that it isn’t just our customers who are avoiding packaging. We are careful to generate as little waste as we possibly can, and we ensure the materials used are recyclable and free from plastic where possible.

How would you sum up your progress after nearly one year?

It’s going well. We have a loyal customer base, and we are seeing brand new customers nearly every day. Our local products are going down extremely well. Our shelf rental system is also really popular with customers. Small companies from the local area can rent a shelf in our shop and sell things like jewellery, sewed goods and greetings cards, or advertise their products. This is a definite win-win situation for us.

How do you personally go about leading a sustainable lifestyle?

Sustainability is a very important issue to me, but it isn’t the only thing I care about. Even the smallest contribution is a step in the right direction. I’ve been avoiding disposable plastic as best as I can for many years now, and I’m trying to set an example. As such I’ve been using a glass drinking bottle rather than PET bottles for a while now, and I always use my own shopping and vegetable bags. But if I do ever have to use a plastic bag, I then reuse it as a bin bag. I’m not only careful about the food I buy, but also about the clothes I buy, and have begun following a vegetarian diet. But seeing as I live in the country and work in the city, I do have the luxury of a car.

«Even the smallest contribution is a step in the right direction.»

Sabine Koch in her zero-packaging shop (on the right)

You mentioned work. To what extent did PostFinance as an employer help you fulfil your dreams?

I used to work pretty much full time, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to open this sort of shop under those circumstances. So, I spoke to my manager about this dream ambition of mine and asked her if I could reduce my workload. She loved my idea, and so she supported me. By working part time, I’m able to balance both roles nicely.

Can you also make a difference when it comes to sustainability at work?

I work for PostFinance in Procurement, and sustainability is becoming an increasingly hot topic in our department as well. This means that not all employees entitled to a business mobile, for instance, will need a second device. It’s really exciting to see what else is going to happen in this area. I also bring in my own cutlery for takeaway food I get from the canteen so that I don’t need any plastic cutlery. I hope that by doing this I can also contribute towards a change in mentality.

How do you see society changing as far as leading a (more) mindful lifestyle is concerned?

I think more and more people want to lead more sustainable, mindful lifestyles. But I think the absolute key here is self-motivation. If we’re told we have to change something, the result will not be permanent. There needs to be a trigger of some sort that people don’t associate with having to do without something, but which makes us think and gets us to change our attitudes. If we want to be able to change the way we behave in the long term without much effort, we need to actually believe in what we’re doing. But there’s no need to completely turn our lives upside down overnight either. There is no doubt an area where we can all improve without it being a real hardship. Ultimately, the little things we do add up.

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