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    China’s first ‘zero waste store’ closes physical outlet to reach wider audience

    BEIJING (Xinhua) – The Bulk House, a pioneer social enterprise promoting a zero-waste lifestyle in the Chinese mainland, will closed its physical store located in downtown Beijing on March 20.

    But it won’t disappear: it will switch to a more flexible and innovative business model to engage a wider audience and be more actively present in places and occasions, said Joe Harvey, co-founder and manager of the store championing a lifestyle that is “zero waste, package free, reusable, and natural.”

    “The closing of The Bulk House is, in a way, to reduce the waste of resources of operating a physical place and it will give us more time to do more,” he explained to Xinhua.

    The Chinese mainland’s first zero-waste store will move its presence from the artsy and trendy Drum Tower area to online channels, pop-up stores, lectures and workshops, he said.

    Since The Bulk House opened its doors in early 2018, it has inspired more and more people – local residents and travellers from inside China and abroad – to take up the challenge of reducing the amount of waste that we produce in our daily life.

    Customers choose products at the Bulk House, a zero waste and package free store in Beijing. – XINHUA

    “For over a year, I have witnessed with surprise that so many people have joined us to become zero-wasters, to live a green, eco-friendly life and to share their experience with more people around them,” Harvey told Xinhua at the store’s closing party.

    He said he felt proud to be part of and witness first-hand the zero waste movement that has been growing rapidly in China.

    “I’ve had more support in China than back home in the United Kingdom (UK),” he said, pointing to his vintage training shoes. “My mates back home would tease me for wearing the same pair of sneakers, but here my Chinese friends think I look cool.”

    Harvey and his Chinese partner, Yu Yuan (or Carrie Yu) have been practicing and promoting a zero-waste lifestyle not only in their shop but also in their own lives.

    Yu has been a zero-waster since 2016, inspired by Bea Johnson, “mother of zero waste lifestyle movement,” a French woman living in the United States whose family embraced a sustainable lifestyle that produced a mason jar of garbage in six years.

    “Every individual can contribute to saving the world from its plastic crisis and we don’t need to wear tights and a cape to do so,” she said, adding that starting from the details in our everyday life, each person can make a difference.

    Yu and Harvey live by the six Rs of sustainability – Refuse the use of single-use, non-degradable materials such as plastic, reduce unnecessary consumption/purchase of resources, reuse materials instead of throwing them away, repair the broken or replenish what’s exhausted, recycle the recyclable and be creative to recycle the non-recyclable, and rot and compost the organic such as kitchen waste.

    At The Bulk House, people can bring in containers for refills of eco-friendly shampoos and detergents, or donate and trade things they no longer use. Stainless steel straws, bamboo toothbrushes and a cotton mesh drying agent can be used to replace single-use items.

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