Zero-waste grocery stores help reduce both food and packaging waste. Here’s how they do it – and what you can do to reduce waste in your life as well.
You’ve probably heard of minimalist or “zero-waste” living, but did you know that zero-waste can go beyond the individual consumer? Some companies are getting on board with the zero-waste initiative and grocery stores are a logical place to start, since a huge percentage of waste that ends up in landfills is food waste.
While the battle against the plastic bag continues in cities throughout the United States, in many European cities, this battle has already been won, and many European grocery stores have embraced a model from simpler times, and adopted a zero-waste model. You can find everything you would find in a regular grocery store in a zero-waste store, from produce to eggs, to meat, milk, bread, and soap. What you won’t find is a lot of excess packaging.
This article from HealEstate.com describes the zero-waste grocery store thus:
Imagine a grocery store in which food is not hidden behind a colorful cartoon character on cardboard, a grocery store that allows you, the consumer, to choose exactly how much of a product you want, a grocery store that helps save the environment while saving you money. This is a zero-waste grocery store.
…You can purchase a variety of food and household items in bulk. Unlike buying in bulk at your wholesale store, zero-waste grocery store products don’t come in excessive plastic packaging. In fact, they don’t have any packaging at all. Customers are expected to bring all their own jars, containers, and reusable bags. Most green living zero-waste grocery stores do sell containers if you are in need.
Zero-waste grocery stores help to reduce both food waste and packaging waste. By allowing consumers to purchase specific amounts of foods to suit their needs, rather than larger packages of pre-packaged goods, it is expected that less food will go bad before it can be used.
A large percentage of the plastic that ends up in landfills is a result of food packaging. By bringing your own reusable containers and buying in bulk, you can drastically reduce the amount of plastic food packaging that is discarded every year.
And some zero-waste grocery stores are taking things a step further in the sustainability spectrum and stocking mostly local produce and other products.
As the article states, if you live in Europe, it will likely be much easier to find a zero-waste grocery store than it will be if you live in the United States. However, some markets are beginning to move in the zero-waste direction. For example, in April 2017, Zero Market opened its first U.S. location in Aurora, Colorado. They also have a location in Vancouver, Canada, where among other initiatives, they make a concerted effort to sell “ugly” produce to reduce food waste.
Even if you can’t find a zero-waste grocery store where you live, you can certainly take steps to reduce waste. Be more mindful of your purchases, disregard physical “blemishes” or imperfections on produce, and bring your own reusable bags and containers when shopping whenever possible.