Shedding the ‘Skin of Commerce’? Prefigurative Organizing in Zero-waste Retail

Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Jacob Hasselbalch, Johannes Stripple

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How should we understand zero-waste as an organizational phenomenon, and how may we assess its transformative potential? This article views zero-waste as an example of alternative organizing, rooted in principles of solidarity, autonomy, and responsibility. Zero-waste, a movement comprised of online influencers, local communities, and zero-waste grocery stores, prefigures a transformation of the food, retail, and plastic systems along local, ecological lines. Building on data from 16 interviews, 5 site visits, and material from social media, we advance an understanding of zero-waste as a collective assemblage that relies on integration between zero-waste communities and zero-waste grocery stores for its prefigurative potential. We contribute to studies of prefiguration by extending our understanding of who can do prefiguration, how it is accomplished, and how we may assess its transformative potential. In particular, we argue that prefiguration needs to remain sensitive to the way reconfigurations of social relations intersect with existing or emerging political-economic settlements.


ConferenceBuilding Alternative Livelihoods in Times of Ecological and Political Crisis
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