The average American creates 4.3 pounds of trash per day. That’s 1,569 pounds a year. With numbers like this, it’s no wonder our landfills are overflowing and our planet is suffering.
One of the major pitfalls of living in a capitalist society is that consumers have gotten used to convenience. We buy the pre-cut, pre-washed veggies, even though they are packaged in thick plastic. We buy bottles of spices and salad dressings, just to use once for Pinterest recipe, and then throw them out when they go bad or take up too much cupboard space. We go through dozens of bottles and cans a month, dozens of plastic bags, dozens of boxes. And while many of us recycle, recycling is not actually as beneficial to the environment as one might think.
Unfortunately for us, stores make it very easy to choose products that produce a lot of waste. But what would happen if all of that packaging and waste were eliminated?
Located in Austin, Texas, in.gredients, is the first package-free, zero-waste grocery store in the U.S. that also specializes in local and organic products.
They have all of their items for sale in bulk, and containers for purchase that you can use over and over again. You can also bring in your own containers. When you’re ready to check out, you weigh your containers and pay by weight of product.
Not only do these types of grocery stores eliminate unnecessary packaging, but they allows customers to purchase only the amounts that they actually need, eliminating food waste.
This idea isn’t exactly new. A few years ago, Germany unveiled their first-ever zero waste supermarket called Original Unverpackt. The store doesn’t sell any big brand names, and instead carries mostly organic products. Even things like shampoo are dispensed from containers.
With zero-waste grocery stores starting to pop up around the globe, other countries are finally starting to jump on board. While in.gredients opened in 2012, Canada only got it’s first zero-waste store, Green, located on Salt Spring Island, BC, in 2016.
But the zero-waste train isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The Fillery is set to open soon in Brooklyn, NY, while Green will be opening another store in Vancouver, BC in 2017. Pop-up store, Zero Waste Market is also set to open in Vancouver.
According to The Huffington Post, Canadians send more than nine million tonnes of garbage to landfills every year, and of that amount a whopping 35 per cent is packaging from food and consumer goods. It’s a problem that is only exacerbated by a lack of alternative options for consumers.
Cutting down on packages, boxes and plastic bags is not going to solve all of our climate problems, but it is a step in the right direction. If more stores like this become the norm, it will be easier for consumers to make smart choices about the things that they purchase, and how they’re purchasing them.
In the meantime, check out Litterless to see which stores in your state or province offer zero-waste initiatives.