A zero waste shop, the first of its kind in Bloemfontein, was established by the Botha family in December 2020. This gem, Osem, is built on the core value that there is strength in a community when we work together towards a common goal; the goal in this case being reducing the waste that is created by unnecessary plastic packaging.
According to Wikus Botha, they strive to keep it as local as possible while stocking the best quality products. Before this, Osem was a part of the CoffeeTalks Café, occupying a section inside the café.
The basic operation of this unique Bloemfontein-based shop is quite simple. “You, as a customer bring along your own empty containers or packaging of your choice. You then fill them with the products from our stock that you want – as little or as much as you need – and you pay by the weight for what you have filled.”
Botha said if you don’t have containers or have forgotten to bring some along, they have brown paper bags of various sizes that can be used. “We also stock Consol products which you can buy and use. Furthermore, we collect, wash and sterilise used jars and resell to promote the idea of reusing as part of recycling.”
He explained the idea of it all started without prior knowledge of there ever being such “shops”. It basically came into fruition as a consequence of the belief, as a family, to be responsible for their waste and to take care of the planet. “We started buying in bulk in order to save on unnecessary packaging for our café, but then we also thought we might just as well sell the excess in order to have a higher turnaround. So we created this small little zero waste shop.”
The shop sells a vast variety of products with specific focus on whole foods. Botha said the products the shop holds in stock are primarily based on demand, so they gradually add more items as the demand increases and are always open to suggestions and requests.
“Customers can expect more than just a shop as we run an urban permaculture farm as well as the restaurant on the same property. Sometimes we even let our customers pick the herbs and some veggies (seasonally) directly from the plants for instance.”