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A place where people don't just go shopping – Interview with Agnes Tolde, owner of Czifra Cekker Free Wrapping Shop

A place where people don't just go shopping – Interview with Agnes Tolde, owner of Czifra Cekker Free Wrapping Shop

A few years ago, it was still considered a novelty, but nowadays packaging-free stores can be found in more and more places across the country, and when you walk into them, you get much more than just a place where you can shop more sustainably. In our article we spoke with Agnes Tolde, owner of Czifra Cekker, a free wrapping shop in Foote.

Where did the idea to open a packaging-free store come from?

For a long time, my family and I have been trying to live as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible in everyday life, where packaging-free solutions also play a big role, among many other things. Two years ago, in 2022, during the Covid pandemic, my job at work was terminated and I became unemployed. Then I went to the employment center, where they gave me a great opportunity to start my own business with support from the state. We thought it would be good to include our environmental awareness in this, so we actually gave ourselves the opportunity to open a packaging-free store.

Photo: Agnes Tolde

By the way, the project itself required a lot of effort: it was necessary to prepare a business plan, it was necessary to attend various training courses and the like. At that time, my application was still among the twenty or so winners, but unfortunately, at the last minute, the budget was reduced, and in the end only two or three applicants received support. However, by this time, we had already invested so much energy in the plans that we finally opened our store in Fót in the summer of 2022 with family cooperation and with our own capital.

Wasn't it more difficult to introduce such a store to the public in the countryside than, say, Budapest?

never. I think a store like this in the countryside is more fortunate than in the capital, as people are closer to nature: they fertilize vegetables, grow vegetables, and raise animals. For this reason, it is natural for them to protect their environment.

How was the reception of Chevra Checker?

Anyone who knew what this was all about was very happy. Since I had already posted about the opening before, many people were already waiting to visit us, and they welcomed us with great love. However, to this day, there are still people who don't know what a packaging-free store is, are afraid to try it, and don't dare to come here.

What are those who do not dare to shop in such a store afraid of?

I think, on the one hand, many people do not dare to be open to the unknown, and consider it “cheesy” that they do not know what the process is. In such a store, I not only take the product off the shelves and move on, but we also communicate with each other personally. But fortunately, new faces come every day, who always admit with a smile how good it is.

Photo: Agnes Tolde

Is there a social group or age group that is more or less open to this?

No, there isn't one. I have all types of clients, from high school students to young couples, expectant mothers, large families, to retirees or single people. Maybe there are a little fewer male guests, but they come more and more, and they become more and more skilled at this kind of shopping.

To what extent do you see a positive trend in people's environmental awareness?

In my setting, I've noticed for several years that people are becoming more environmentally conscious, and since the store has been open, I've seen how many people are switching to packaging-free shopping. I also have regular clients A Zefra Shaker They had never been to such a store before, but now they really realized how wonderful it was, and not just because of purchasing goods.

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Do these stores bring about positive changes in other areas of life, not just our shopping habits?

In all ways. In addition to being friendly to the environment and the wallet, the packaging-free store is also good for the human spirit, as here you are not pushing the shopping cart at your feet, nor is popular music playing but you can shop quietly and calmly without stress or haste. Here, even strangers mingle, talk, and share experiences, tips, tricks, and recipes with each other. The store also serves as a social space, and I believe it has a very important role in building community in today's online world, which increasingly ignores personal connection.

Photo: Agnes Tolde

Moreover, we, the packaging-free store owners, work together and support each other instead of falling apart. Although we do not have an association, we still hold bi-weekly or monthly meetings regarding questions or problems that arise, or, for example, ordering with other stores from specific suppliers in order to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible.

What products do you sell?

We have almost everything except refrigerated products. Different types of dry pasta, legumes, baking ingredients, flour, sugar, salt, spices, cleaning products, sweets, toothbrushes, I can list the number of things lined up on the shelves. Naturally, we also strive to sell as much healthy food as possible, work with as many small local entrepreneurs, manufacturers and producers as possible, and produce as little waste ourselves as possible. That's why we try to choose suppliers who recover packaging materials, such as spice or syrup buckets or honey bottles.

Photo: Agnes Tolde

If I understand correctly, do you also hold different workshops and lectures?

Yes, I try to focus on education as much as possible. For example, we already had a fermentation workshop, and together with the Association of Conscious Buyers, we organize a series of so-called “eco-chamber” events every year in the spring and fall, where all kinds of topics from chemicals to free cleaning to local cleaning products are discussed. Made and vegan lifestyle.

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In addition, we organize excursions and edible plant viewing tours to the nearby Somlyo area of ​​Fót, where you can find fascinating flora and fauna. And what is also very important: many school classes and even kindergarten groups have already visited us, so that we can show the younger generation what they can do for the future of the planet at their own level.

Do you think that educating young people is also very important?

Of course, since they already have the future, they can only reverse this process, which we are now trying hard to find a solution to. Fortunately, I see that many of them accept all of this, and realize that environmental awareness is not from the devil and is not the same as an ascetic lifestyle, but that big results can be achieved with small changes. For example, they use water bottles instead of PET bottles, or wrap their sandwiches in recycled napkins instead of plastic wrap. If they grow up with this awareness, if they learn these routines and incorporate them into their daily lives, we will have already done a lot for the planet. It's no coincidence that my favorite motto is that you don't need a handful of people who live perfectly without waste, but millions who do it all imperfectly.

Protecting and conserving our planet's rich and diverse wildlife was a prominent theme at Planet Budapest 2023 sustainability fair. In the exhibition called Your Planet, those interested can learn how they can take steps towards a more sustainable life, and thus participate in protecting nature.

Featured image: Agnes Tolde


Planet Budapest 2023 video
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