Are you familiar with the concept of zero-waste living? I guess that the name rings a bell, as the eco trend has spread rapidly around the world. Fuelled by concern of the ongoing climate emergency, many people want to reduce the amount they consume and waste. Although there is a lot to be done to fix the environmental crisis, there are several simple changes we can make to our daily lives that reduce our carbon footprint. After all, the earth is the only planet we have. To that end, let’s check out the Picker, Korea’s very first zero-waste store!
I’ll admit, I wasn’t always concerned about my spending habits or the waste I leave behind. However, at university, it was quite common to see trash on the streets and in the halls. Additionally, while students were all familiar with the concept of recycling, we didn’t commit to it. Thankfully, I have been made more aware of the climate crisis, as well as changes I can make in my own life, in order to help. In fact, the reality of the problem really hit home when I moved away from my university dorms.
Recycling Process in Korea
Recycling in Korea is rather complicated as you have to divide your trash diligently. What’s more, the specific requirements vary between districts. In any case, its important to do it properly, as flouting the rules can incur a hefty fine and/or a heated lecture from a local ah-jumma or ah-jussi.
Moreover, when you live on your own in a small living space, you naturally become aware of the mess that you create. Just when you’ve taken out the trash, the pile begins to magically grow again. I began to ask myself, why do I have so many plastic bags and packaging? Why are there so many tissues in the trash?
Zero-Waste in Korea
With this epiphany, I finally began to explore what I had seen in on my social media radar for a while — zero-waste. There seemed like there were so many people mastering the art of zero-wate and I wondered if I would even come close to that point. However, making even small steps towards a less wasteful lifestyle is definitely worth it. I didn’t expect to change overnight, but I started small and have been able to keep my efforts up long-term!
Back then, the zero-waste movement was still finding its legs in Korea. Although abroad I could find plenty of eco-friendly products, zero-waste stores and online guides, it wasn’t visible here in Seoul. One of the principle changes to make for a zero-waste lifestyle is swapping disposable items for reusable ones, such as tumblers, bags and dispensers. However, my personal tip is to start by not throwing out useful things! For instance, if your recent take-out came with plastic boxes, wash them and reuse them.
For more tips on zero-waste living, check out this website >> here <<
Fast forward to Seoul of 2021 and you can see environmental action on every corner! And with that, a growing number of zero-waste stores as well. I recently visited the Picker, Korea’s first zero-waste brand, and a shop I visited back in its early days when the zero-waste movement was just beginning. Today, they have a huge store in a primary location and are more popular than ever!
The Picker Seoul
The Picker is located in Seongdong-gu, near Ttukseom Station and the beautiful Seoul Forest park. Picker prides itself on being Korea’s first zero-waste brand, operating an online and offline store, where all shipping includes recyclable packaging. While online shopping is convenient, I highly recommend packing up some tupperware and flasks and heading over to see the shop in person!
Here, you’ll find almost everything you could need for daily consumption. From household items like soap, laundry detergent and dishcloths to vegan cosmetics and portable cutlery sets. However, their signature is undoubtedly the bulk-buy and re-fill station, where you can stock up on rice, beans, pulses, cereals and other pantry staples. Simply bring your own container, weigh it, fill it up, weigh it again and pay.
For me, their must-have item is their handkerchiefs, super cute and super convenient. In fact, I don’t even use paper tissues anymore and it feels great. I’d also recommend their bamboo tootbrushes and dental floss.
A new addition to the store is the ‘ugly produce’ section. Here, you can purchase fresh fruit and veg deemed too ‘mishapen’ by mainstream markets. Instead of discarded these so-called ‘ugly produce’ they are sold and consumed happily here at the Picker. While they may not look the prize, they taste just as good. Let’s not judge an apple by its skin, but its by its core, right?
I am very curious as to how mine and everyone else’s journey to zero-waste is going to progress here in Korea. Of course, a comfortable zero-waste lifestyle is a privilege and we can only do as much as our personal circumstances allow us to. However, despite the mentality that zero-waste living is for trendy vegan bloggers with cash value to match their follower count on SNS, all of us can do something. In fact, a zero-waste lifestyle will save you money in the long run.
Think buying fewer clothes, reusing packaging and snapping up discounts and incentives for BYO reusable materials. Taking a bag with you to the grocery store, taking a bus instead of a taxi and taking your tumbler to Starbucks, it sounds doable, right?
Location & Directions
The Picker Address: 668-97 Seongsu-dong 1-ga, Seongdong-gu, Seoul Operating Hours: 12:00pm - 7:00pm Tues - Sat, closed Sun, Mon Directions: Take bus no. 121, 2014, 2224 or 2413 to Seongdong Community Sports Center stop. Walk straight up the street opposite Gong Cha for 4 minutes until you reach The Picker.