In 2015, while on a trip to Europe, Ernakulam-native Bittu John Kallingal came across ‘green stores’ for the first time. In these zero-waste grocery shops, customers bring their own bags and containers to refill the products.
Bittu decided to set up a similar store in his hometown by converting his father’s grocery shop. From cooking oil to masala powders and shampoo to cleaning solutions, everything in Bittu’s 7 to 9 Green Store is sold without using a single piece of plastic.
Additionally, he offers a 2 per cent discount to those who bring their own containers. Others can buy glass containers and paper bags from the store by depositing an amount, which will be returned in the next purchase.
The 33-year-old MTech graduate says that his venture sees 300 customers a day. He also takes an effort to reach out to school children and encourage them to live a plastic-free life.
“The solid items are sold in cloth and paper bags, while the liquid items like fabric conditioners, oils and other items are sold in a glass bottle,” he says.
Within 2.5 years of setting up the store, Bittu claims he has saved over 12.5 lakh kg of plastic from reaching landfills. He has opened a new store in another part of the district and hopes to expand in the coming years.
Edited by Divya Sethu.