Eco-friendly supermarket uses zero plastic packaging
Imagine A Packaging-Free Grocery Store
You probably already bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store. But do you tote along your own jars, bottles, and bins for food that’s only available in bulk?
That’s what shoppers do at in.gredients, the nearly packaging-free grocery store in Austin, Texas. “It’s a BYOC—bring your own container—concept that most people understand, appreciate, and practice. Some customers bring upwards of 15 or 20 containers per shopping trip,” says store manager Josh Blaine.
Here, you won’t find the colorful boxes, crinkly bags, and endless cartons that line most other grocery shelves. Instead, in.gredients' aisles are tightly packed with dry goods like grains, beans, flours, dried fruits, and spices that sit in clear bulk containers. Oils, vinegars, and soy sauce fill metal vats with spigots, while locally-grown fruits and vegetables hang out in wall-lined bins. Big wheels of fresh cheese, plus locally-baked bagels, baguettes, brownies, and more are displayed around the checkout counter.
With the exception of the meat and milk (which are required by state law to be packaged), all of the store’s food is sold packaging-free. Customers are strongly encouraged to bring their own clean, reusable containers, and “for those who forget or aren’t familiar with our model, we do have reusable containers for sale and some bags available,” Blaine says. Items at in.gredients are sold by the weight, and shoppers put their empty vessels on the scale before filling them up, so they’re not charged for the heft of the containers themselves.
Opened in 2012 by three sustainability-minded brothers, the idea for in.gredients came from a packaging-free grocer in London appropriately named Unpackaged, founded in 2006). Both stores emphasize the idea of precycling, or bypassing excess packaging and materials altogether instead of recycling them post-use. It’s a concept Blaine expects to catch on in other places, too. “Whether it’s specifically in.gredients expanding eventually or other stores figuring out ways to reduce waste, it’s something we just have to do,” he says.
In fact, less waste is something that many shoppers want now—and that manufacturers are trying to deliver.
Video: DIY: Zero Waste
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