by Isaac Yuen, Recycling Council of BC
SRRI is so happy to include this blog post from our colleague Isaac Yuen, who has recently been in Germany and shared his trip to NochMall with us. Isaac works at the Recycling Council of BC (RCBC) and has been a regular contributor and attendee to our Repair Working Group. Isaac always has great ideas about communications and sharing stories, so we are so happy to share this story of his.
Both these concepts are reality in Berlin, Germany. Operated by Berliner Stadtreinigungsbetriebe (BSR), the largest municipal solid waste management company in Germany, NochMall is the first department store for used goods in Berlin, offering a second life to quality furniture, clothing, appliances, housewares, and much more across two distinct store concepts. Driven by its corporate strategy to promote reuse as a keystone element for waste diversion in accordance with the region’s Recycling Management Act, BSR opened NochMall as a non-profit venture in the summer of 2020 with the motto of “alles ausser neu,” which translates to “everything but new.” Their goals are as follows:
The DIY/plywood aesthetic is clean and functional; signs for each section are cleverly crafted from old materials that add to the ambience. An upstairs café with comfortable seating adds to a relaxed and comfortable shopping experience; there is even a dedicated event space to hold repair cafes, zero waste talks, and used furniture auctions.
"Department store, platform, workshops and events - NochMall is becoming a synonym for re-use and sustainability.” - Frider Söling (Managing Director, NochMall)
Regular repair cafes and upcycling workshops are also held in this space, reinforcing fun and educational components as part of the regular retail experience. The Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection also has plans to organize zero-waste events one floor above the pop-up location, leveraging existing retail spaces to promote circular economy concepts towards a demographic that goes beyond the environmentally conscious crowd.
This holiday season, ask yourself: What would it be like to shop with the planet in mind? What if you can come away from a retail experience with nothing but a new set of skills? What if you can find that perfect present that would otherwise have gone to the landfill? NochMall Berlin offers one tantalizing vision of what is possible—it’s now up to us how to adopt and adapt this model for our region as we move towards a circular economy. Tell us in the comments what your vision for a circular hub in BC looks like.
Isaac Yuen is an Environmental Advisor at the Recycling Council of BC, a non-profit organization that facilitates the exchange of ideas to eliminate waste through the BC Recycling Hotline, the BC Recyclepedia, and the BC Recyclepedia smartphone app.
Information from: www.nochmall.de; images by author.