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Rediscovering the Greek Tradition of Mpakaliko

Over the years some things have changed but fortunately, some things remain constant. Even today, certain areas in Athens and many rural places recall the image of mpakaliko. These establishments, reminiscent of a bygone era, were once integral to daily life, where residents would go to replenish essential goods like rice, cured meats, and various legumes. While in the modern era, many prefer the convenience of packaged products, there is a growing movement advocating a return to more sustainable practices of the past.




The "mpakaliko" (grocery store) was the shop of the "mpakalis," a term derived from the Turkish word "bakkal," originally referring to a small general store or shop that stocked a variety of dry goods, including grains, beans, and other basics. These stores served as both gathering places and suppliers of essential goods. Customers would bring their containers or bags to refill with the needed quantity, reinforcing a sense of community.

 

Environmental Impacts of Packaging:

In today's world, the convenience of packaged products has become the norm. However, the environmental burden of single-use packaging is undeniable. Pollution, overflowing landfills, and carbon emissions from production and transportation have led to a global need for sustainable alternatives. By supporting the revival of traditional grocery store practices, such as bulk purchasing, we can mitigate the environmental impacts of packaging.



Advantages of Food Refilling:

Reducing Plastic Waste:

The most immediate benefit of food refilling is a substantial reduction in plastic waste. By eliminating the need for single-use packaging, we can significantly contribute to alleviating the environmental crisis.

Community Strengthening:

Local stores can become gathering spaces where neighbours exchange ideas, recipes, and sustainability tips, fostering a sense of community.

Adaptability and Freshness:

Refilling allows individuals to tailor their purchases to their specific needs. Additionally, bulk buying often means fresher products.

Economic Benefits:

Supporting local businesses and reducing packaging costs can have positive economic implications for both consumers and store owners.


Μpakalika, like laikes agores, are deeply rooted institutions in Greek society, demonstrating that alternative solutions have existed for a long time. So, the next time you want to buy legumes, rice, dried fruits, or vegetables, bring your jars and bags and support small producers at local markets and traditional grocery stores.

 

Παλιές εικόνες και φωτογραφίες της Ελλάδας

Sometimes, the change and solution lie in familiar practices of the past. Let's protect the environment by eliminating packaging where we can and create a more connected community for future generations.

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