// MILENA GLIMBOVSKI: PIONEERING THE PACKAGE-FREE MOVEMENT IN GERMANY
Looking at the world with different eyes, eager to find new solutions to unnecessary problems. That’s how Original Unverpackt - Germany’s first package-free supermarket - was born. Did you know that an average German person produces 611 kilos of trash per year? Luckily, Milena Glimbovski had a big vision to change that: Freeing our supermarket shelves from all that useless plastic wrapping, which we then unload into our bins at home. Since opening its doors 2 years ago, the OU store received a huge media response. Thousands of people found their ways into the small shop in Kreuzberg, and only the tomatoes sold in year 1 saved around 25kg of plastic trash. Today, Milena is passionately spearheading the low-/zero-waste movement in Germany, helping to free sustainability from its dusty hippie-image and making it affordable, fresh and sexy.
A head full of ideas, an inquisitive mind and no fear of speaking up: Milena is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, minimalist and Berlin’s zero-waste heroine. Apart from founding OU, there’s so much more to this Berlin power girl: from opening more than 15 other shops all over the country, giving talks and workshops on the top stages (incl. TEDx), creating a daily productivity journal, launching her own youtube channel - to being quoted by Sir Richard Branson himself! Milena’s energy is contagious and she’s showing everyone that changing the world is possible. AND fun!
Favorite place in Berlin:
It’s such a cliché, but: Tempelhofer Feld. It seems like you’re in nature, but you’re still in the middle of the city.
Favorite product in your shop at the moment:
Hard one! jam - it’s handmade, really tasty, and we can give the packaging back to the producers.
Favorite green startup (in Berlin):
I like startups that have both a green and a social component - like Conflict Food. They are importing saffron from Afghanistan, pay fair prices to the people and give the women there a perspective.
// OKAY MILENA, NOW IT's TIME TO TALK
What are the most important things that you want people to see in Original Unverpackt?
That we're more than just a shop. There’s a whole movement behind it: we introduced the zero waste lifestyle to Germany and try to make it as big as possible. Going plastic-free takes more than just a few loose bananas in a shop. We're trying to tell the world a bigger story.
What makes you feel most excited about being part of the zero waste movement?
What I really like about it, is that it makes organic food and cosmetics affordable to everyone (usually that costs a lot!). And it doesn’t carry this hippie “öko-image” that’s been around a few years ago. It’s just becoming hip and cool to be green and lead a sustainable lifestyle. That is actually the best part of it...
What was the last thing you’ve thrown in the bin and why?
I have ADHD, so when I’m working or talking to someone, I always need something in my hands to fiddle around with. I often use play dough. Last Friday I left it in my bag... and it melted. No chance to fix it - I had to throw away both the play dough and the bag and was feeling really sorry about that.
Which person impacted on your life the most in the last 2 years?
So many! My business mentors are a huge inspiration to me. They are like my parents, but in an entrepreneurial way and I really look up to them. Also Casey Nestat. His videos just inspired me to pursue the things you love and share them with others. Great approach to life. He made me start my own youtube channel, too.
What would you say is your most important character trait as an ecopreneur?
My creativity. I have non-stop ideas. And often, I actually have too many of them - so it gets difficult to decide which project to focus on next. Most of the time, I’m really managing my own mind and try not to say yes to everything - but it’s hard. It’s my best and my worst trait at the same time.
What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning?
After checking Instagram, Facebook, etc. I did 15-minutes of meditation. I try to do it every day before leaving my bed (cause once I got up, I probably wouldn’t do it anymore).
What was the last idea you had, where other people said “that’s crazy”?
I have little finger toys to keep me busy - and my whole team now plays with them. It’s fun, helps relax and concentrate. So my business partner joked that I should start an ADHD toy store - and I caught fire and started to research. He actually meant it as a joke… But I think there’s a lot of potential.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you:
I’m very small, about 1,50m. And when people meet me the first time, they’re very surprised. Another thing: as a teenager, I was a tom boy. A real skateboarder.
What book do you think everyone in the world should read?
"Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. I wasn’t vegan before. But after I was 20% into the book, I already knew that I would stop eating meat. That really changed my life in a good way.
Please share 3 things, that make you most happy in your life at the moment:
First, I love my team and the setup in our office - really enjoy coming to work everyday. Second, my friends, who I don’t meet very often anymore. But when we meet we have such a good time. Third, I’m writing a book right now, which has been a lifelong dream and it excites me everyday.
If you could change one thing to make Berlin greener within 24 hours, what would it be?
I would shut down a few roads and open them just for bikes. I’m riding my bike everyday and the more space we have, the safer it is. And the air in the city gets greener and cleaner.
Choose the answer that spontaneously resonates with you most
a/ Save the Ocean or Protect the Forest (veeeeery hard one!)
b/ Fair trade coffee or green smoothie
c/ Eco Fashion or Second Hand
d/ Meditation or Workout
e/ Facebook or Snapchat
What question should we have asked you but didn’t?
How does the online shop for Original Unverpackt work - how do you try to avoid waste?
Answer: We only use packaging that has already been used by other people, by our customers, our office neighbors... Instead of recycling we just re-use them as much as possible.
Last word: Anything you want to pass on to the GreenMe Berlin community?
>> I like the quote “There is no planet B” - so we have to take care of that one.
// WHAT's MILENA UP TO RIGHT NOW:
- "Salon Mondaine #14 Slow Living & Conscious Consumption" - 26th November 2016
- Female Empowerment Symposium & Soultank
- Milena shares the stage with Magdalena Schaffrin (founder of Greenshowroom & Ethical Fashion Show) & Dr. Maja Göpel (political economist & transformation researcher)
- Time & Location: 7-10pm at SOHO House Berlin, Torstr. 1, 10119 Berlin Mitte >> Please RSVP!
- "Ein Guter Plan" (in German) - 2017 edition just launched
- "The book that will change your life" - a combo of diary, life planner and daily inspirations
- Broaden your horizon with mindfulness, happiness and stress reduction, while keeping your business & life goals in order