Zero-Waste Shopping

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Bulk food bins at Hetu, an all-bulk / zero-waste grocery store in London. (Photo credit: Celia Ristow)

Thanks to Cathy Erway and colleagues at Civil Eats for this story on where and how the boundaries of shopping waste-reduction is being pushed:

Zero-Waste Stores Ask Shoppers to Bring Their Own Everything

As record amounts of plastic waste pollutes the planet, some grocers are helping shoppers do without.

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Ekoplaza’s plastic-free aisle. (Photo credit: Ewout Huibers)

Tom and Katrin Helmick live in New York’s Hudson Valley region with their 2-year-old son. They cook and grow vegetables in their backyard during the summer months, bring reusable totes to the grocery store or farmers’ market, and never buy plastic bottled water. Although they try to avoid buying foods that come in non-recyclable packaging, their landfill waste bin still receives a hearty diet of disposable baby food pouches and “lots of thin plastic,” says Tom.

“When we do buy grocery store meat, I hate that it still comes wrapped in Styrofoam. That’s why I love going directly to the source for our meat from a farm nearby that is simply vacuumed-packed,” says Tom. “We find it ridiculous that three people can create so much waste,” adds Katrin.

Indeed, food packaging waste can seem like an inescapable fact of modern-day American life. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. alone produced 33.3 million tons of plastic in 2014, an increase of nearly 2 million tons since 2010, and much of it came from the categories of durable goods, containers, and packaging.

Global estimates suggest that as much as 80 percent of marine litter, most of it plastics, originate inland before finding their way into waterways, polluting our food sources and harming wildlife. What’s more, 70 percent of marine plastic has been found to be non-biodegradable, and it’s expected to triple by 2025, a report shows.

In the face of these troubling realities, a movement toward zero-waste grocery shopping has been growing in the U.S. and beyond. For example, mom-and-pop grocery stores with extensive bulk goods and biodegradable or recyclable packaging such as in.gredients in Austin and The Zero Market in Denver. Across the Atlantic Ocean, Earth.Food.Love bills itself as the U.K.’s first zero-waste market, and Ekoplaza recently opened with the world’s first “plastic-free aisle” in the Netherlands. The nonprofit A Plastic Planet is behind the plastic-free aisle, an initiative it hopes to replicate in stores worldwide…

Read the whole story here.

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