Klinder is a thriving, sustainable supermarket whose main purpose is to reduce the waste mountain and support local production/consumption. They want to provide a more sustainable option for customers who are currently shopping at mainstream wasteful supermarkets. Klinder mainly sells products that are as far as possible zero-waste, biological, and local.
By doing this, Klinder helps to solve more than one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: good health and well-being (3), decent work and economic growth (8), responsible consumption and production (12), climate action (13) and partnerships for the goals (17).
Klinder started only two years ago as a small shop in downtown Hasselt, Belgium, and was founded by Machteld Lambrichts. Klinder is a shop where you can solely buy ecological and sustainable products made by local suppliers. Sustainability is thereby the center value of the company. It sells all kinds of products ranging from soaps and shampoos to reusable ice cube trays and recycled tote bags. According to Machteld, a sustainable product is something you can reuse until eternity.
“If this is not possible, like a bar of soap, the product needs to be made of natural ingredients that will not harm the environment in any way.”
Current supermarkets are only trying to be less harmful by using less energy and less water, producing less waste, reducing poverty, etc. However, Klinder is aware that the challenges that our planet is facing will not be solved by only doing less harm.
Klinder blows up the existing mainstream supermarket system and replaces it with an entirely new concept. Therefore, we can classify Klinder as a radical innovation. Klinder’s business plan carries a high risk that is worth taking, knowing that this business plan is what will get us closer to a more sustainable world. Klinder’s foremost purpose is to positively impact individuals and the world, not only being less harmful. Klinder thrives on reducing the ecological footprint of as many individuals as possible by selling sustainable products and contributing to a healthy and regenerative environment. By becoming a quantum leader, they try to shift from a sustainable organization to a more flourishing organization. However, this shift is only possible by a well-thought business model radically different from other grocery stores.
As mentioned before, Klinder focuses on multiple Sustainable development goals. By involving both suppliers and customers in the supply chain, they become stakeholders. This states that the responsibility must lay with both the producer and the consumer. Moreover, Klinder is the perfect spot to motivate consumers to change their behavior to a more responsible buying habit while also giving the few ecological producers in Limburg a fighting chance in this world. Klinder makes this possible by selling the ecological suppliers' products, thus encouraging them to stay ecological and aiming for SDG 17.
An important consequence is that they provide and protect those jobs and, by staying local, boost Limburg's economy, this being SDG number 8. Two of the more straightforward SDG’s, number 3 and number 13, may also not be overlooked. Good health and well-being can be discouraged by big stores by selling lower quality products with many additives. In the process, they rarely take noticeable climate action unless it benefits them financially. Klinder promotes healthy behaviors with its local and biological products. While doing so, they do not use packaging for their products and ensure none of their products harms the environment. Klinder is still growing and hopes to solve even more sustainable development goals in the future.
Machteld is the mother of two kids. They are the main reason she started with Klinder. It was only after her kids that she realized everything she bought was wrapped or made of plastic. It resulted in an unwanted garbage surplus. She started to get frustrated by this and realized that this type of lifestyle was unsustainable. She needed to reduce her waste and leave the world behind in a better state for her kids.
“I put children on this world and I have to leave this planet behind in a decent state for them.”
Machteld always dreamed of starting her own catering company. However, this was deemed impossible due to her busy schedule of taking care of the kids. Nevertheless, she did not lose her motivation and was determined to open her own business. While becoming aware of the current state of the environment, she came up with the idea to do something with ecology.
Afterward, she looked on Pinterest and Instagram, as well as in her trash bin, to get inspiration for products that needed an ecological alternative or could do without packaging.
“I got my inspiration from looking in my garbage bin, thinking about sustainable alternatives instead of the disposable products.”
Klinder is laying the foundation for zero-waste shops in Limburg by being the first shop in the region. This new way of operating a business offers multiple benefits in the short run and the long run for both clients and suppliers.
They only offer merchandise that is ecological, durable, and do not produce any waste. Those merchandises come from local suppliers that have the same value as Klinder. By selling locally sustainable products, Klinder tries to be the missing link between its suppliers and customers. This local economic activity is enormously beneficial to both the local supplier and the local customer base.
Klinder is also trying to change the shopping habits of the general public. By creating this niche market, they try to attract a new kind of client aware of their ecological footprint. This new loyal customer base is an essential part of getting the message out to the general public. By creating this domino-effect, Klinder attempts to change the general public's shopping behavior and place ecological durability as a primary factor in the decision-making process. Klinder knows that it is hard to compete with big discounters. However, this is not a primary goal. They understand that the customer’s interest in sustainable products is increasing rapidly. Consequently, the big discounters will need to transition to more sustainable products to keep up with this request.
Because of the brief period that Klinder has been operating, it is hard to tell whether this innovation is beneficial. However, Klinder sees a lot of potential for the future. Last year they achieved a break-even result. A break-even result is unique for a new starting business. It shows that people from the local community are interested in her company. Due to this interest from the local community, Klinder is currently making a profit.
This growing interest has also been a motive for Klinder to open a new large grocery store. There, they intend to expand their product range by offering multiple types of brands and more products varying from local organic food to durable razors. Klinder hopes that the customer journey will be more customized.
This expansion will result in jobs for the locals. By hiring, Klinder hopes to give more back to society and thus create more prosperity. However, they are also aware of injustices in modern society. That is why they try to hire a more diverse team. This type of diversity brings a certain kind of strength to Klinder. On top of that, they also participate in charity work by giving occupation to people who suffer from mental illnesses.
We have seen some benefits from this type of innovation. By offering durable ecological merchandise, both Klinder and the local community benefited from it. By being the only store to provide this concept to the region, Klinder tries to change the lifestyle of all consumers and the surrounding environment.
The biggest benefit Klinder offers to society is that its concept can be sustainable and still be profitable. Klinder’s innovation creates economic prosperity while contributing to a more healthy natural environment, resulting in a positive net-impact. This type of mentality is something that will be needed in today’s world, bringing sustainable business and prosperity for both suppliers and customers.
The suppliers are also required to operate sustainably to be a partner of Klinder. The most important mission is to change customer behaviour from shopping in wasteful supermarkets to shopping in zero-waste supermarkets. Machteld said, “People should be aware of the climate problems. Everyone should do their part, beginning with zero-waste shopping”. Thus Klinder aims to make people aware of the problems and the sustainable alternatives so their mindset and behaviour changes.
Furthermore, there are also clear environmental benefits like the reduction of waste/plastic by selling as far as possible unpackaged products. By buying from local suppliers, Klinder is also responsible for the decrease in greenhouse emissions by reducing (global) transport.
They want to be different from competitors. “Sustainable competitors in the neighbourhood only focus on the biological aspect. I want to expand that focus to local and ecological products.”
“Our ultimate dream is to change the customer mindset. By making people aware of climate change and sustainable alternatives which reduces plastic waste. We also try to minimize transport by supporting local production.”
Machteld Lambrichts, Klinder
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Hasselt, Limburg, BE
Business Website: https://www.klinder.be
Year Founded: 2018
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
At Klinder, we consider the ecology of paramount importance. It's the reason for our existence; it's what our store is all about. Klinder is the Hasselt dialect for 'smaller' because we want to reduce the waste mountain. This idea arose after I, Machteld, thought we were producing too much waste at home. With two children, that waste accumulates quickly, and I wanted to do something about it.