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An app helps you shop without creating waste

Foto: Unsplash/ Noah Buscher

Foto: Unsplash/ Noah Buscher

Elsa Velasco
The Go Zero Waste app offers resources to minimize the everyday consumption of plastic

For every purchase in a supermarket, huge amounts of plastic packaging are built up that could be avoided. For fruit, drinks, meat, soap... This packaging often ends up in seas, rivers and landfill sites, much of it without ever being recycled. With the aim of minimizing this packaging's environmental impact, the zero waste movement champions giving up its use. However, in the hectic everyday life of cities, achieving this can often be quite a challenge.

To make it a little easier, a group of entrepreneurs has created a mobile app, called Go Zero Waste. Based on your shopping list and location, the app shows the nearest retailers on the map where the user can buy the products loose, thus avoiding the need for plastic packaging. Launched on 8 June and available for Android and iOS devices – in the latter case, since 5 July – the app features a database with more than 170 shops (in 20 Spanish cities, primarily Barcelona). The retailer map is constantly expanded thanks to the users themselves, who can add them using the app.

 "Waste management is insufficient and most of it ends up not being recycled. We use a plastic bag for ten minutes, but it has a life of hundreds of years. We're filling the Earth with landfill sites of rubbish that no one's recycling", stated Mart Morat, co-founder of Go Zero Waste and UOC graduate. For Morat, that is why the solution is not recycling but reducing consumption. "The person with the final deciding power is the customer", he argued, "and if they decide to buy sustainably, companies will start thinking how to offer the product sustainably".

With his partner, he set 2018 as a target for shopping without creating waste. "We saw that it was feasible, but that outside our neighbourhood, Grcia, it was very difficult to find packaging-free products", he explained. As they could not find any resources on the internet to help them, they decided to create one themselves in the form of an app.

The initiative was financed in January through a crowdfunding campaign on the Ulule platform, in which the Casa Ametller group played a key part. It was also a finalist in the Spin UOC programme, which provides UOC students, graduates and employees with advice and networking opportunities for their projects.

The app, which had had 1,300 official downloads by the end of June, also helps users get into the zero waste lifestyle through gamification.  Users are given everyday challenges so that they make changes in their day-to-day lives. "We encourage people to replace bath and kitchen items for more sustainable ones, or to make small changes such as not having plastic straws in their drinks. They are small actions that add up; the app has a calculator to know the amount of waste you haven't created", Mart Morat stated.

Out of the Go Zero Waste app, the first of its kind in Spain, a start-up of the same name has been created. "We want to go further", Morat claimed. "There are people who don't have the time to shop in more than one store". That is why the team wants to roll out a platform associated with the app to do home shopping deliveries, taking them in reusable packaging on foot, by bike or by electric scooter so that neither waste nor emissions are created. They also want to create a logistics system for dispensing, collecting and cleaning reusable packaging that they would offer to consumers in shops if they are unable to bring their own.

"The main challenge is to reach as many people as possible, for most shops in Spain and worldwide to sign up to the app and for the app to grow in terms of its functions. The more people who sign up, the greater the impact