If you haven’t heard about the zero waste movement in the past few months, where have you been? Across social media and especially in Cardiff, there’s definitely been more awareness and concern around reducing plastic waste and it’s a discussion that has probably been a long time coming, especially after the broadcast of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II. In the height of all this awareness, Cardiff’s first zero-waste store has officially opened its doors to encourage us to say no to plastic when we shop – say hello to Pontcanna’s latest addition, Viva Organic.
I decided to visit on its opening weekend to see what the store was all about and to find out about the shopping experience that came with it. When people hear the word ‘organic’, the first word that probably comes to mind for those who are on a budget is ‘expensive’, so I was slightly apprehensive about the cost of the products before my visit. However, I was keen to visit a shop that doesn’t sell produce covered in plastic packaging, something which has become incredibly frustrating in many of our supermarkets (I’m looking at you, Aldi), and ultimately sells food that is sustainable.
I visited on a Sunday and the store was relatively quiet, which is unsurprising considering that it’s a new shop but the longer we browsed, more people continued to appear, which was nice to see. The space is much larger than I’d originally anticipated, with the fresh fruit and vegetable section taking up the majority of the front of the store with bright colours to entice passers-by. I was pleased to see that the produce was incredibly varied, including some of my favourites like plums, and much of the fruit wasn’t as expensive as I initially thought it might be.
But the store offers so much more than that, with a variety of herbs and teas to choose from, just to start with. However, my favourite section was probably at the back of the store, where all of the pasta and dried fruit live, basically all my favourite food. The selection of foods on offer was much larger than I’d expected, especially in terms of the cereals, nuts and even fresh oat milk. But what I liked most about this store as I continued to browse is that you can select as much as you’d like, with all of the pricing calculated by weight.
That leads me onto the weigh station. For this zero waste store to operate, customers need to bring their own containers with them, which need to be weighed whilst empty and you can attach a sticker to it to ensure you don’t pay for the weight of your container. Once that’s done, you fill it up with one chosen product, scan your first barcode then place your now full container on the scale and print a new barcode to find out the price. Once you’re finished shopping, you then take the containers to the till to be scanned. It’s quite a simple process and is easy to understand, which was great, with staff members on hand if you got a little stuck.
If you wanted to prolong your visit a little, there’s also a bar table area next to the window so you can sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee, fresh juice or whatever you fancy while you watch the world go by in Pontcanna. I definitely took this opportunity and enjoyed a very strong oat milk latte for an additional Sunday boost.
I think Viva Organic is a nice addition to Cardiff and gives people the opportunity to shop for good food with zero waste, which was not an easy task prior to this. Of course, as it was opening weekend, some things were missing like fresh loaves of bread when I visited, but this may have sold out before I arrived. However, the staff were really friendly and were keen to show you how the whole process works, without being intimidating, salesy or pushy in any way, which was great. Although you’d be unable to get your whole shop here if you’re looking for meat or fish, I think it will be a welcome place to choose your staple kitchen supplies and of course, your fresh fruit and vegetables. Everything we bought, we enjoyed, so we’re off to a good start. If you’re in Cardiff, I suggest you pay it a visit.
Opening hours for Viva Organic are:
Tuesday to Friday – 8am-6pm
Saturday – 9am-5pm
Sunday – 11am-4pm.
Mondays – Closed