The People’s Supermarket
The People’s Supermarket on Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, is a sustainable food co-operative supermarket aiming to contribute to community development and cohesion. The idea is to offer an alternative food-to-customer network, by connecting the urban consumer with a local farming community. The store is owned and managed by its members, and committed to offering low prices by reinvesting the profits. There are currently 25 permanent members of staff and around 500 members of the store; each member pays a non-refundable £25 annual membership fee and most importantly, volunteers 4 hours of their time each month to help run the store. As a large part of any grocery store’s expense is the hiring of staff, the volunteering model saves on costs, savings which are relayed to provide healthy & locally produced food at affordable prices.
The project is principally about sustainability. Speaking at TEDGlobal 2010 founder Arthur Potts Dawson stated a key aim of the project was to make the most sustainable supermarket in the world. In this way, the entire interior of the store is made from recycled or reused materials from the tills to the shelves, whilst the long-term aim is to have the store produce zero food waste. As such, the splinter project The People’s Kitchen was set up in the store in 2010, with the objective to supply healthy ready-made meals for customers to buy. All food prepared is made by volunteer members from past-best food from the store, the kitchen processes 100kgs of waste from the store every week.
By bridging the divide between urban consumer and rural producer the project encourages informed and sustainable food retail; the entire process from buying to selling to the cooking of food is founded on principles of sustainability, community and affordability. In this manner, The People’s Supermarket is an excellent example of a project seeking to effect change through local community decisions, facilitating the development of progressive, forward thinking solutions to commercial retail, food wastage, and healthy eating.
Information and pictures sourced from http://www.thepeoplessupermarket.org and http://www.flickr.com/photos/mermaid99. All rights reserved by The People’s Supermarket.