Cape Town grocer turns to 'nude' food in fight against plastic pollution

06 October 2017 - 17:19 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Image: iStock

Frustration over unnecessary plastic packaging led one man to open a bring-your-own-container environmentally friendly shop in Harrington Street in Cape Town’s East City Precinct.

Nude Foods‚ will offer non-GMO‚ healthy and affordable whole foods and earth-friendly body and home products. All items will be weighed before being sold.

The doors of plastic-free grocery store will officially open in mid-November.

Its owner‚ Paul Rubin‚ says the negative effect plastics have on the environment inspired him to open this one of its kind grocery store.

“My personal frustration with not having anywhere in Cape Town to shop without the misuse of plastics made me start. Plastics affect our oceans. They don’t get decomposed and‚ as a result‚ this causes pollution. I mean‚ things like turtles getting strangled by plastics affect me‚” Rubin told TimesLIVE.

The shop will get its stock from niche small suppliers around the city of Cape Town.

“We are a small startup‚ so people should not expect to find expensive mainstream brands‚” Rubin said.

“On the range of food we will have the likes of cooking oil‚ chocolate‚ cereal‚ organic fruits and vegetables‚ honey‚ teas and coffee. And we will have a smaller range of plant-based home items‚ which is not our main focus. Then we have body products which is your homemade soaps‚ shampoos and shower gels‚” said Rubin.

Customers can bring their own packaging or get a paper bag or a sterilised glass jar from the shop. Alternatively they may purchase a pure cotton bag‚ which is reusable.

Rubin is confident that his products will not be expensive.

“People are excited about this; we have received overwhelming and positive feedback in just two weeks of posting about it on Facebook. Some are even urging us to have a shop in their hometowns‚” he said.

But Rubin isn’t the only person concerned about the environmentally detrimental effect of plastic. Kenya has taken a tough stance. It recently introduced a ban on plastic bags and selling or using them may result in up to four years in jail or a fine of $40 000.

Britain’s Prince Charles said during his conference in October on protecting the world’s oceans that plastic is now “on the menu” in the fish people eat and called for decisive action.

With eight million tonnes of plastic waste entering the oceans annually‚ the world must switch from “throw-away‚ convenience lifestyles” to a recycling economy‚ he said.

According to Chandru Wadhwani‚ joint MD of plastic bottles recycler Extrupet in South Africa‚ the three environmental “r”s – “reduce‚ reuse‚ recycle” – are no longer enough.

“Just because something is recyclable doesn’t mean it will be‚” he said in an address at the annual KwaZulu-Natal Recycling Forum Seminar on Wednesday.

“We are seeing headlines like: ‘By 2050 there will be more waste than fish in the sea.’ Even worse‚ in the last few weeks we are now drinking the stuff.”