There’s been lots of buzz on the internet about zero-waste, or perhaps more accurately almost-zero-waste, grocery stores opening in Europe. One over-enthusiastic webzine even proclaimed Germany’s Unverpackt as “the first Zero Waste Grocery store in the World“. But there is at least one older zero-waste grocery. That just goes to show that even for well-intentioned sustainability reporting, maybe you shouldn’t believe everything you read.
Most people don’t associate politically-conservative oil-producing Texas with sustainability. But in fact its capital, Austin, has a long history of liberalism and was the birthplace on August 4, 2012 of in.gredients. We don’t know if in.gredients qualifies as the first zero-waste grocery, but it beat Unverpackt by more than two years and it aims to reduce landfill waste by 99.7% compared to traditional grocery stores.
However who was first, doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the products that typical grocery stores sell produce a lot of packaging waste. Think of all the cartons, trays, wraps, bags, jars, and bottles that remain after you eat the food. And that’s not even counting all the packaging of packaging that the stores deal with.
The EPA estimates that containers and packaging account for over 23% of the materials reaching U.S. landfills. Zero-waste stores eliminate all, or almost all, of the retail packaging. As in.gredients succinctly puts it: “Bring clean containers from home . . . Fill [or partially fill] your containers . . . [Weigh and] Pay.”
Hopefully in.gredients, Unverpackt, and France’s Day By Day zero-waste stores will soon be, or have already been, joined by many others. If you know of any, please give us a shout and we’ll help get the word out.
If you want the link to the webzine that got the first-in-the-world attribution wrong, you can also contact us.