The name Ouni, which means “without” in Luxembourgish, sums up the philosophy of the new grocery store in the Gare district of the capital city. Doing away with packaging, the store sells produce that is organic and locally sourced where possible, and also free of parabens and chemicals.
Vanessa Paul is one of the founding members. “Five [out of seven] of us are mothers,” she explains. “Perhaps that’s why we feel so strongly about creating a healthier environment for the next generations.”
Paul and co-founders Rebecca Maroko, Caroline Lam, Patricia Tompers, Anne Jacoby, Saskia Mechling and Kasia Krzyzanowski launched an appeal for members to join Ouni in February. So far around 600 members have invested in the project. With each share costing €100, prospective members can easily buy in and become part of the cooperative.
The concept has already proved to be extremely popular, and the collective reached their target of raising the initial €180,000 they felt was required to start commercial activity within just three months.
By the end of September its capital had surpassed €200,000. In addition, those who fancy a more hands-on approach can become active members who work two hours a month to help at the store.
Finding a store with convenient parking with a good location was a priority for the founders, so they eventually settled on a premises on rue Glesener in the Gare neighbourhood of Luxembourg City. As you enter the store, customers will be surprised to see that it is much larger than expected.
“The aim is to eventually stock around 1,000 different products. At the moment we have around 500,” says Maroko. The range of products exceeds that of a simple grocery store.
With staples such as fresh fruit and vegetables, there are also organic dairy products, dry products such as grains and pasta and household essentials.
In order to help the customers incorporate conscious living into their lifestyle, Ouni also stocks reusable goods such as face pads, handkerchiefs and cloth diapers.
Lam wants customers to feel the full effects of minimising waste: “You can cut your own solid soaps and shampoos, so that you only take as much as needed. We even have refillable toothpaste!”
This philosophy is applied throughout the store and customers can purchase any amount of anything, no matter how small. “Another benefit of a zero waste store is that you can try so many new products without committing to purchasing the entire packet. Simply bring your own jar or purchase one and take as little as you wish.”
Though it may seem simple enough to take away packaging and go back to basics, the members believe that perseverance is key.
“Perhaps the first time you come, you forget your containers or you place product into a bottle that isn’t yet dry. You will learn from small mistakes but it’s important to keep going. After all, it’s not just a shop, it’s a revolution!”
This article was first published in the Winter 2017 issue of Delano magazine. Be the first to read Delano articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.