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Sweden creates the world’s first sustainable shopping mall (an idea that could change the way we shop)

Climate change is a fact and its consequences are increasingly visible. Therefore, generating less waste has become a recurring and immediate need. And Sweden, a country known for its sustainable practices, recently took a big step in this direction, as it found a possible alternative to mass consumption. The country inaugurated the first sustainable shopping center on the planet.

O awesome.club wants to share with you the story of a Swedish businesswoman who managed, together with her community, to revolutionize the way people buy products, giving them a second life.

Meet ReTuna, the first sustainable mall

The full name is ReTuna Återbruksgalleria and its system is revolutionizing the way you buy, because it bets on an intelligent way of consuming. Basically, all items sold there are second-hand, but with the possibility of acquiring a new life through repair (simple repairs) and recycling. In addition to recycled and reused products, there are also others of organic origin (food) or produced in a sustainable manner.

How the project came about

The shopping center opened in 2015 and is located next to the ReTuna Återvinnings central recycling center at Folkestaleden 7, Eskilstuna, Sweden. The establishment’s manager, Anna Bergström, was responsible for the idea. The project came about after she wondered about the levels of pollution produced by the fashion industry (the sector in which she worked). Then, Anna began to analyze the enormous ecological impact generated by the production of goods and by our habit of buying new products, even in those situations where the old ones do not need anything more than a repair to remain perfectly useful.

Soon, the idea arose to create something ambitious and why not a mall? With the support of the local city hall, Anna created a shopping center with ordinary stores, but which sell recycled or salvaged products, stimulating the so-called circular economy. The name ReTuna is a combination of the prefix “Re” (for reuse or recycling) and “Tuna”, which means tuna, in English, the product responsible for the fame of this Swedish city.

Eskilstuna, a clean city

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria (the shopping mall) and ReTuna Återvinnings (recycling centre) are linked to the municipal company Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö (EEM), which in turn is charged with managing competitive organizations in the Energy and Environment sector. Its services aim to generate a minimal impact on the environment, with a financial return for the business to sustain itself.

The company’s objective is to serve as a model and source of inspiration in these aspects, in order to create a sustainable social benefit for current and future generations. EEM operates in five business areas: electrical network, urban heating, urban network, water and sewage and recycling.

How the mall works

Visitors arriving at the shopping center can sort into containers the products they wish to dispose of — toys, furniture, clothing, home furnishings and reusable electronic devices. There, the team makes an initial selection of what can and cannot be used. Afterwards, the items are distributed to the mall’s recycling stores. Then, the team at each store makes a second selection, in which they choose what they want to repair, convert and finally sell. In this way, materials are given a second life.

The difference between a mall and a used goods market

While the procedure may look the same, ReTuna is not a flea market — a second-hand market. Everything about the establishment (located in a former freight parking lot) looks like a regular mall, it’s well ventilated, clean and spacious, and you can find products of all types and brands, from high-end electronics like Apple, to designer brands like Gucci to items made by local businesses. All second hand but in good condition. Fortunately, the concept of this type of business is working.

What does it mean to lead a “sustainable life”?

The mall supports the concept of sustainable living. Technically speaking, this means that the production of goods must take place through the minimum use of natural resources and with reduced emissions of gases that cause the greenhouse effect, without compromising the supply of raw materials for future generations. This not only has an ecological impact, but also on social, economic and human relations.

In 2018, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria achieved the equivalent of BRL 4.5 million in sales of recycled products, which exemplifies an eco-smart business model, which could set a precedent and inspire other cities and countries to adopt a friendlier economy in relation to the Planet.

What did you think of this project? Would you shop at a mall like this? If we all started to establish an economy based on recycling, what would be the impact on the Environment? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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