Eco Friendly Household Goods

Published on July 20th, 2011 | by belleterre

Package-Free Groceries?

Bulk Food Bins

Does package-free grocery shopping sound like green heaven?  It may soon be possible for those living in Austin, Texas.

America’s First Package-Free Store

In.gredients is poised to be the first package-free, zero waste grocery store in the United States.  It’s a pretty startling claim to fame and quite an impressive undertaking.  Consider this: Americans throw away 1.4 billion pounds of waste every day, and 40% of it comes from one-time packaging.

Since we don’t often consider where our trash goes, it’s not something that we think about.  You buy your sugar, flour, baking soda, etc and understand that at some point you will be throwing away the container in which it was originally purchased.  But does it really have to be that way?  In.gredients says no.

The Lane brothers, who are opening the store, want to change our basic thoughts about what a grocery store needs to be.  Those changes are big steps that will allow them to offer food package-free.  First and foremost, customers will buy in bulk.  All of your basics – produce, grains, flour, sugar, milk, cheese – will be available in bulk.  As a customer, you bring your own container, weigh it when you arrive, add product, weight it again, and take that to check out.  It’s as simple as that.

But more than just bulk food options, the Lane brothers are changing what is included in their store.  Following the standard sustainable living tips, they are going to encourage cooking.  That means that will carry only food in season.  No junk food.  Products will be organic and locally focused.   Instead of stocking up warehouse club style, customers will be more inclined to purchase what they need.  Of course, they will feature a myriad of vegan and gluten-free options.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?  The Lane brothers refer to it as “Grocery 2.0” and I think they’re right.

Sources: In.gredients, Time Magazine, YouTube video

Image: Flickr bcmom

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About the Author

Julia and her husband own Belle Terre, a natural bath and beauty company. They are working to transition from their traditional home in a small town neighborhood to a truly sustainable lifestyle in which they eat only what they grow, use only the energy they collect, and share their home with the dogs, bees and other animals that will join them.

8 Responses to Package-Free Groceries?

  1. Kate B says:

    Oh I wish you were in Omaha. That is just the help I need to be better about eating in season and sustainably!!

  2. pat says:

    So…. When and where do we shop? Also, do you have a ‘tips for shopping the no waste way’ kind of primer so those of us who don’t know the drill can plan effectively?

    • belleterre says:

      Pat –

      Thanks for the question. There are a few basic steps I would suggest to avoid (at least some) of the packaging.
      1 – Bring your own grocery bags. You can re-use plastic or paper, bring canvas, or purchase reusable bags. I personally love my reusable bags as they can carry so much more than a standard plastic bag, they are easily washed, and they fold up nicely in my purse. I keep two in my car and two in my purse so that I’m never without.
      2 – Don’t use the flimsy plastic produce bags. I avoid the bags altogether, but if you prefer them, you can bring your own which you can make cheaply or purchase.
      3 – Buy in bulk when you can. Many grocery stores now have some form of bulk bin. Use it when you can. If your local store does not, search out a natural foods store close to you. We are lucky enough to have a small co-op in our area and we’ll buy in bulk with the group. For example, we’ll order one 25lb bag of sugar and split it up between all the members that are interested.
      4 – Buy as little processed food as you can. Avoid the pre-made food/fast food as it will all typically come in plastic or too much packaging. Avoid boxed meals. Not only are they lacking in nutrition, but they usually have packages inside the packages.

      I wish I had a store like in.gredients close to us, but it’s not likely in our area, so we do the best we can with what we have. Keep in mind that little tiny changes make a large difference over time.

      Good luck!

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