October 12, 2020Berlin's recycled store caters to slow consumption

When shops temporarily closed due to the pandemic, many people rethought their shopping habits and said goodbye to ‘throwaway culture’. Catering to this is Berlin’s Wa(h)renhaus, a department store for recycled goods, making it frictionless to shop in line with your eco-values. We explore the insights behind how slower consumption is leading to more sustainable purchases.

Sophie Robinson

Located within the department store Karstadt, the Wa(h)renhaus spans the third floor, selling used, recycled, and refurbished furniture, clothing, phones, and other electronics. It hopes to open stores in all 12 of Berlin’s boroughs. The Wa(h)renhaus also has an education centre to encourage more sustainable lifestyles, showing its commitment to long-term eco-friendly behaviour changes. “Three years ago, we started collecting all kinds of used goods that people have in their cellars or attics,” says city spokesperson Dorothee Winden. “Things that are well-preserved and functioning but aren’t being used anymore. The goal is to give these things a new life with somebody who can use them.”

Germany is known as a leader in sustainability, and since 2008, the city of Berlin has managed to reduce household waste by about 11kg per resident. As the pandemic inspires people to temper their fast consumption habits, the store is catering to desires for considered consumption across all levels of business. Globally, people are placing the responsibility on manufacturers to reduce waste: 80% of people say that manufacturers should be obliged to help with recycling the packaging they produce. With eco-shopping the only option at Wa(h)renhaus, it simplifies eco- consumption choices, demonstrating a purpose beyond sales. And, seeing as the first outpost is situated in Karstadt, it’s likely to draw consumer comparison to stores that don’t prioritise eco-values.

Sophie Robinson is a behavioural analyst at Canvas8. With a background in social anthropology, she’s experienced in understanding the cultural mechanisms that shape the world, and how people symbolically construct and communicate meaning. When not mining for insights she’s wild swimming, listening to techno or thinking about documentary films she’d like to make.

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