Free the Food in Vienna

Shopping free of plastics.

Besides what is actually in the food, Andrea Lunzer has always been most interested in what goes around it. In her opinion, it’s best if that’s nothing at all. That’s why she started the Maß­Greißlerei, the first supermarket in Austria to be entirely free of packaging. How did Lunzer’s culinarily­correct gem find its way to Vienna’s Second District, and where do the design challenges lie? COMPANION sat down with her to find all this out.

Growing up on an organic farm, food and environmentally­friendly products were always important to Andrea Lunzer. Her connection to packaging developed during her studies in marketing at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, where she says she specialized in “sustainability, more specifically renewable energy and resources.” Subsequently, Lunzer was employed in marketing at a big organic label, where she was responsible for packaging, among other things. She opened her own shop because it was clear there was a need for it. “Packaging was always being overlooked, there was definitely need for action,” she says. She wanted to do more than just replace plastic bags with ones made of paper. In January 2014 she then opened the Maß­Greißlerei.

Upon entering her store, you notice that this is an organic market of the highest standards. The room is naturally lit through big windows and it feels more like a boutique than an organic shop. The atmosphere is warm – you immediately feel content and welcome.

On a simple shelf, dried goods are waiting to be transferred into containers, while bare cucumbers and other seasonalities pass the time in the refrigerated section. Oil in canisters protected from light are ready to be sold in tinted bottles (which can be returned for a deposit, of course), and a whole variety of spices are just begging to be taken home in their desired portions and added to dishes. The products come “as directly from the producers as possible,” Lunzer says. “Everything that grows in Austria also comes from here, directly from the farmer when possible.”

A shopping trip in the Maß­Greißlerei requires reusable containers to fill up with your purchases. You can bring your own Tupperware or use the “Lunzer” preserving jars that you can buy directly at the store. If you are using your own containers, these must be weighed before shopping – because at the end you pay by weight. Buying items without packaging has a second advantage: If you shop according to measurement, you can purchase exactly as much as you need. “We have lots of customers who come to us with a recipe on their phone. In the Maß­Greißlerei you can buy a single spoon of curry, for example. It makes complete sense – then you can try new things out,” explains Lunzer. In this way, less ends up in the bin at home. 

Anyone wanting to spend a little longer in the peace and quiet of the small food shop can get comfortable at the cafe attached. With attention to detail, the cutlery on the tables is arranged in old enamel jugs, and tea towels operate as paper napkin replacements. The whole idea is zero waste. On offer is a choice of coffee, juice, and a changing lunch menu. The latter is prepared daily by the organic delivery service Iss mich! – and they exclusively use crooked or abnormal vegetables that wouldn’t otherwise make it into the supermarket or onto your plate.

The Maß­Greißlerei is different from a conventional supermarket and, as a result, needed a special design. The main task of Kathrina Dankl, the store’s designer, was to build individuality into the infrastructure. Questions like: “Where should the containers be weighed? Which contents should be placed in which spot?” were key to the design.

As a customer, you can immediately get your bearings thanks to the clear structure of the space; lovingly-designed signs help the process. “The difficulty in the design was managing the information,” explains Andrea. What was usually on the packaging had to be communicated in other ways. A whole range of leaflets hang on the walls and give information on the products. You can also find information here on the correct way to store potatoes, facts on spices, and the general principle behind the store. You can even create your own brochure during your shopping trip using a stapler – you can choose the exact information you want and thus take far less plastic home with you. In this way, everyone who shops at Maß­Greißlerei makes less of an impact on the environment.

Lunzners Maß-Greißlerei:
More about the catering service Iss Mich!:

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