Consumers and businesses alike are waking up to the devastating effects of single-use plastics on our environment and food system. And not a moment too soon–the amount of plastic waste we create is on track to quadruple by 2050 according to a 2017 analysis of today's production and waste management trends. For some entrepreneurs, this was the push they needed to start their own inspirational low- and no-waste retail ventures.
Below are five newcomers that are making waste reduction easier, safer and more widespread among shoppers across the nation.
1. Roots Market
Roots Market is Idaho's first-ever plastic-free, zero-waste grocery store. It opened in September and offers full-service deli items and fresh to-go meals as well as bulk dry goods, fruits, vegetables and locally sourced egg and dairy products. In addition to all this, a plant-based apothecary run by a naturopath is open on the premises several days a week.
The Nada Shop in Encinitas, California, is a "refillery" that sells natural household and body care items in reusable containers (or, shoppers are free to bring their own from home). Some of its nontraditional bulk store offerings include clays for cosmetic use, dry shampoo, facial serums, bug spray and deoderant cream.
Precycle opened earlier this year in Brooklyn, New York, and uses a by-weight model to charge customers for its wide variety of bulk goods and fresh produce. Shoppers simply weigh their bag, bottle, tupperwear or other vessel beforehand, then subtract the weight of the container to find the correct pricing. There are also ample refrigerated goods to choose from, such as pickled spicy peppers and kimchi.
Another packaging-free store that cropped up in New York in 2019, the Waste Not Shop was the brainchild of a former health food store employee who wanted to see the same healthful goods distributed with less waste. The store offers a free jar shelf, whereby shoppers can avoid using a single-use bag if they forget their containers at home, and it has also partnered with a local bakery to sell plastic-free fresh bread.
Zero-waste store The Glass Pantry will be opening before the end of the year in Walker's Point, Milwaukee. It will emphasize organic ingredients spanning across its bulk foods, body products and household goods. Items that reduce consumers' waste outside of the store–think reusable straws, coffee cups, water bottles, cutlery, paper towels and bags–will also be available for purchase.