10th October 2019

OUNI, pioneer of “packaging-free” shopping in Luxembourg

OUNI is an abbreviation for “Organic Unpackaged Natural Ingredients” and means “without” in Luxembourgish. It is the first packaging-free, organic grocery store in the country.

Shopping at OUNI can prove to be an enriching experience. For nearly three years now, in rue Glesener, you have been able to shop without generating waste by using your own containers for all loose products. All other products, like milk, yoghurt and jams, are available in returnable glass jars or bottles. OUNI currently offers almost 900 organic, local and fair trade fresh and dried food product lines, as well as environmentally friendly cleaning and personal care products.

A shared idea

Using social networks, seven women who were keenly aware of the waste problem, set out on this adventure in 2015. They conceived the idea of a more environmentally friendly cooperative distribution model, based on the sad fact that packaging accounts for almost one third of the 650kg of household waste generated on average by every Luxembourg citizen every year.

After raising the necessary funds within just a few months, and signing up hundreds of members, the first store, in the Gare de Luxembourg neighbourhood, opened to the public in December 2016.

A collective achievement

OUNI is a cooperative that belongs to its 1,065 members. They manage it collectively, vote at general meetings, may be elected to the board of directors and may receive returns on their investment.

Of the current 1,000 members, over a quarter are “active members”, i.e. they devote at least two hours of their time every month to helping to run the store. In return, they are given a starter pack to facilitate their purchases and a permanent discount of 5% on all products.

A social commitment

OUNI relies on the dynamism of its members to move forward. Indeed, several working groups (finance, members, workshops, suppliers, layout and communication) work on developing the cooperative.

This collective commitment is all the more important as the cooperative’s mission goes beyond simply running a store. OUNI is also a place that brings people together, with a café area and a children’s corner, and regularly hosts events.

Its other focus is raising awareness: OUNI is sought out by schools, institutions, municipalities and companies, both to help them to think about the issues that lay behind its approach (reducing waste and plastics; do-it-yourself; recycling, reusing, etc.) and sometimes to suggest more concrete solutions.

The grocery store regularly receives visits from groups of both children and older people, who come to discover the “packaging free” concept and learn how to change their purchasing and consumption habits.

The store in rue Glesener has been so successful that a second store is now set to be opened in the south of the country, in Dudelange. The local community that is working on this new project and the Municipality of Dudelange that is supporting it reflect the current enthusiasm for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Nyuko has signed a partnership with Spuerkeess, in order to foster entrepreneurial spirit and strengthening the bank's position with company founders from the start of their businesses. More info in our article: https://www.spuerkeess.lu/en/blog/experts-corner/nyuko-fostering-entrepreneurial-spirit/.