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Welcome Eco-Friendly Markets and Cafés... 'Ethical Consumption'

Regenerating resources and recycling culture settled in Korea

It is possible for a cafe to be plastic-free (한겨레21)

The rainy Saturday of the 6th, when the highs of the day and the midday rose to 35 degrees Celsius. The 'Bottle Factory' located in Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul was filled with people. Even though it was in the middle of small houses away from the cafes in the main Yeonhui-doing street, the inside was crowded.

The 'Bottle Factory', which opened about a year ago, is a unique concept store that operates cafes, zero-waste shops, and tumbler rental services at the same time. Two young men, who were ordinary office workers, came to realize the seriousness of plastic use and decided to open a cafe that does not use plastic at all.

If you do not have a tumbler to take out, you have to rent it at the store. After you bring it back to the store, you can accumulate it like a kind of benefit. Later, with the benefits you collected, you can purchase the beverage at a discounted price, and there is a sink in the store where guests can wash the tumbler directly.

Since last April, a zero waste market called 'Let's fill it', which sells products with single organic foodstuffs and unpackaged products every month, was open. Both sellers and buyers do not use disposable plastic bags in this market. Customers buy their own carts or reusable containers, take only as much as necessary, and buy with weight.

The types of products are quite diverse: sesame oil, sesame, fruits, vegetables, desserts, and household goods, and detergents. One seller said, "My parents sell the vegetables they grow directly in Damyang." The most popular granola was sold out just two hours after opening. A 20-year-old customer said, "After I found out about the bottle factory, I tried to use disposable products, so I went to Chuangjang," he said.

Since disposable cup ban last year, the usage amounted to about 24 million pieces (한겨레)

The government has banned the use of disposable cups in stores registered as foodservice businesses, such as coffee shops, in accordance with the Law on the Promotion of Resource Conservation and Recycling since last August. As of June last year, 21 major companies, including major coffee shops and fast-food restaurants, have voluntarily concluded agreements with the Ministry of Environment to refrain from using disposable cups in stores. As a result, the number of disposable cups decreased by 240.8 million in one year. The amount of disposable cups used at the store also reached 206 tons in July last year, but it dropped to 58 tons in April this year and 72% in nine months.

The public perception of the environment is changing due to the recent micro dust and plastic wastes. The exhibition "Intolerable Beauty" by an American writer Chris Jordan (read more about him and his exhibition in my earlier article), who has been exploring the message about the environment, collected 10,400 viewers and 25,000 viewers in Seoul and Busan respectively. Lee EunJin, CEO of Platform C, said, "It is unusual for the audience to be attracted to the mainstream art museum such as Sunggok Art, and for the environmental exhibition."

Chris Jordan's exhibition in Korea (숲과나눔)

Educational programs for future generations are also being systemized and popular.

"Ladies and gentlemen, now only 9% of the garbage is recycled, and if you continue to repeat the cycle of using and trashing it, 12 billion tons of garbage will be buried in 2050. If you do not change it now, the Earth will become a pile of garbage when you are forty-three years old."

Upcycling program the 5th grade students participated in at Seongdong plaza education center (서울새활용플라자)

28th of last month, Seongdong-gu. At the Seongdong plaza education center, garbage dump screen changed, then a presentation of a garbage-derived bowl, rock climbing handle, and cell phone case appeared. Twenty-eight children in fifth grade at Shindong Elementary School in Seocho-gu, Seoul, who fixed their eyes on the screen, resurrected with "Wow." They participated in the material rescue program, an upcycling training program, and worked to collect materials that could be used to disassemble household items that had been used up. The children were equipped with gloves and goggles and started disassembling the keyboard. In 15 minutes the table was filled with half-split keyboards and protruding keyboards. There are a variety of materials, including plastic keyboards and metal screws, as well as springs and silicone springs. "Where do you have to put this?" The children divided their disassembled parts into boxes by type. The keyboard that the kids disassemble is donated by the city metal recovery center. Toy water gun, which is a representative decomposition work, also uses things left in Shinchon mall festival. The New Cultural Space New Usage Plaza run by the Seoul Design Foundation is the world's largest single building (16,630 square meters in total) on the 5th floor and 2 stories below the floor. There are about 5,000 people who experience education here monthly. More than 17,000 people have participated in 36 programs, and a total of 101,637 people have visited the site. The number of kindergarten, elementary school, and other groups such as weekend family visitors count up quite a lot.

Yoon Dae-young, the head of the New Usage Plaza Center in Seoul, said, "We have focused on making and innovating something so far, but there has been no discussion on the waste generated in the process. In the new utilization plaza, I will create and use the things I throw away as efficiently as possible so that I can add new value. Here, 40 companies including 'Zenny Closet,' a designer company of remodeling apparel, 'Enlighten' to repair electronic products, 'EcoStone Korea,' which recycles waste stones, 'Upcyclist,' that manufactures products using advertisement films, and 'PLAY 31,' who makes a training kit for dementia patients with sponge."

Nau creates premium apparel that blends technical performance and modern design, crafted from sustainable materials. (NAU)

Sustainable fashion brand 'NAU' is also an active place for expansion. The brand publishes the 'NAU Magazine,' which introduces people who are pursuing sustainable lifestyle, fashion, and art in writing and photographs from around the world, and opens a sustainable market every month at 'NAU HOUSE' near Doosan Park. Eco-friendly fashion, accessories brands, and natural dyeing classes provide opportunities for hands-on experience. "The concept of sustainability is difficult to define, and it is aimed at getting more people to accept it easily and funly," said NAU. "We are descrying changes in consumer behavior among young people in recent years."

Skin Grammar products (Skin Grammar)

Recently, a new cosmetic brand 'Skin Grammar,' which aimed for 'Korean Clean Beauty,' also appeared. All the products include good ingredients, as well as the package, which can be recycled from the beginning and be biodegraded. 'Skin Grammar' also uses an eco-friendly material and paper tape called 'Jiami' for delivery packaging.

Kim, who launched the brand, said, "I was forced to think about the environment when I saw my two daughters grow up. I thought that K-Beauty would now have to worry about not only product quality but also sustainability." The new product, which will be released next month, will be sold in recycled PET or waste glass containers.

Bottle Factory (ig):


Zenny Closet:

PLAY 31 (facebook):


Skin Grammar:

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