We are Maria and Winter, co-founders of Little Plant Pantry, Amsterdam’s first plastic-free bulk store with a little vegan cafe in it.
I studied literature, linguistics and interactive digital media among other things. Winter used to be in business before he gave it up to pursue his dream of living and writing in a cottage by the sea in the west of Ireland. After finishing my degrees, I joined Winter in the west to take some time off and make short films.
Establishing a business together was not something we initially envisioned but probably it is not after all surprising that it took a couple of dreamers to start a shop like this. We moved from Ireland in August ’18 and Little Plant Pantry was officially opened on the 7th of April ’19.
About the Shop
The reason for opening the store was simple. Previously to coming to Amsterdam we spent a few years in a rural environment. Being cut off from cities, we became more conscious of our consumption practices. We went to the supermarket once a week and sorted out our rubbish by hand. This allowed us to see how much waste our small household produced.
We left Dublin in search of a more natural existence, however, what we discovered by living in the countryside was that even on remote beaches plastic was washed ashore daily and that farmed animals were never treated well. We wanted to do something about this and our store is that something. We realised that by buying in bulk and collaborating with small artisan producers we could reduce the amount of packaging used.
It’s a small step and it doesn’t change the world but maybe it shows that things can be done differently.
About the Community
One of the reasons why we left the countryside was that it felt like we couldn’t change anything. We needed to engage with more people to try to find better solutions together. And this wish has certainly been fulfilled.
Since opening Little Plant Pantry, we met so many wonderful people involved with sustainability either by profession or passion. We have been helped to realize projects that we could not have done on our own.
For example, in May 2019 we asked on social media to help us build an herb garden at the back of the store and so many volunteers came! We had herbalists, an architect, graphic designers, a carpenter, students and many others who wanted to support a sustainable local business, share their skills, learn something new and meet new people.
We are not the only ones trying to find more conscientious ways of living. Many are aware of the environmental concerns of our time and want to live their lives responsibly and this is a great sign – not just for our shop. It shows that maybe there is hope and maybe we won’t exhaust the planet’s resources completely.