For this story I traveled to the heart of Amsterdam. My parents told me about this tiny grocery shop that recently opened up in their street. My curiosity had been piqued. Who are these pioneers that have the courage to open a packaging and plastic-free bulk store in the middle of the yuppie-central Helmersbuurt in Amsterdam-West?
Little Plant Pantry is run by Winter and Maria, two warm-hearted and hardworking individuals. They opened for business this past April. Despite a long work week Maria and Winter are prepared to spend their day off talking with me about their dreams, their mission, and the Little Plant Pantry. Their story starts in Dublin where they decided to swap their busy city lives in the Irish capital for the green pastures of the West-Irish countryside. Away from the hustle and bustle and in the midst of nature they lived off their own grown vegetables. This is where they want to grow old… But even in their little paradise the consumer society forces itself on their lives. On their trips to a nearby city for groceries they are confronted by Irish beaches strewn with washed-up plastics, and farmers who think it’s fine to have keep sick cows and sheep suffering in overcrowded meadows. It is the indifference of the cattle-farmers and their ignorance towards the massive amounts of waste they produce that ultimately triggers Winter and Maria to take action. They realize something needed to change, and so they started the Little Plant Pantry.
The concept is surprisingly simple. Little Plant Pantry exclusively sells sustainably sourced plastic-free products. Nothing that has been tested on animals or contains artificial additives. In the Little Plant Pantry you can even enjoy vegan snacks, drinks and fresh tea. What motivates these entrepreneurs? They started out as enthusiastic amateurs, not as experts. They believed in and realized their vision through perseverance and hard work. Their ultimate dream is to contribute towards the creation of a self-sustaining community that revolves around ethical and plant-based natural products. However, this dream will not be fulfilled in a day. Six days a week the pair toil away tirelessly in their shop. They have no time for recreation, and no room for distraction. The harsh reality revolves around breaking even and paying bills. There is nothing romantic about it. Despite the grueling work they feel fulfilled and energized. They love to chat and connect with customers of the Little Plant Pantry. Most people that shop at the Pantry are open-minded and welcoming of their concept and vision. This leads to a wealth of wonderful conversations around the robust wooden table. During our conversation Maria brings up another one of her passions: the growing and processing of medicinal herbs for her products. The herb garden in the back of the Pantry already has a variety of things growing in it. Vigorously she speaks of treating diverse ailments through the correct use of simple herbs that are common and widely accessible. She plans to give workshops on this age-old art in the near future.
Two hours and two mugs of fresh herbal tea later we say goodbye to Winter and Maria. On my way home I’m still glowing from this lovely conversation with these two inspiring, hard working, and enthusiastic visionaries. This has a promising future!
Text by Melissa Huppe & Illustrations by: Vanya Menken, Studio Kokana