With excessive packaging increasingly coming under fire, is it any wonder that one ingenious store decided to do away with it altogether?
While recycling certainly plays a part in reducing packaging waste, a vast amount of potentially recyclable material still ends up as landfill, and newer sustainable and bio-degradable packaging options are not an immediate solution, still requiring significant energy to produce.
In the US, up to 40% of the cost of food can be attributed to the packaging alone and whilst previous generations often cleaned their purchased containers and re-used them (remember your grandmother’s cupboard of old vegemite and jam jars?) most modern packaging is intended to be single-use and disposable.
These concerns have led many eco-minded consumers to embrace stores that allow for bulk-bin buying options of staples such as grains, nuts, fruit etc, though these are still often accompanied by rolls of plastic bags. Some stores have recognised this as an issue and have adopted strict paper-bag only policies.
But now a grocery store in Austin, Texas has gone one step further and removed any kind of packaging from their entire range of products.
in.gredients aims to promote sustainability on all levels by providing pure food that is packaging-free.
The store is made up mostly of bulk bins containing staples such as rice, beans, flour, cereals, spices, nuts, coffee, tea and the like, whilst bulk vats dispense honey, maple syrup, oil, tamari and even dishwashing liquid. Other options like meat, eggs and fruit are kept refrigerated and are all local and organic.
Store manager Brian Nunnery calls in.gredients a “grocery store in scope, but a convenience store in scale”.
"We have everything, but only one brand of most things, not 50 brands of each item like a conventional store."
Shoppers are required to bring their own containers, ensuring that the message of sustainability is carried into customers everyday lives and they become aware of what can be re-used.
Looks like grandma’s old jam jars could start coming in handy if this trend catches on.
Photo by John Anderson