Although the US has yet to conduct formal research on food packaging waste statistics, the EPA (in 2001) estimates that 32% of household trash is made up of food packaging.
Per GOOD the numbers are staggering:
Americans add 570 million pounds of food packaging to their landfills each day, while pre-packaged foods force consumers to buy more than they need, stuffing their bellies and their trash bins: 27 percent of food brought into U.S. kitchens ends up getting tossed out.
While you can carry reusable bags to the grocery store, there is not much you can do but carry packaged goods home, except for limited bulk food available at stores like Whole Foods. Bulk-food grocery shopping options are sparse with the most common example being Unpackaged, a packaging-free store in London, UK.
In.gredients, the first package-free, zero-waste grocery store planned in Austin Texas
But hopefully that will change soon. This year Austin, Texas will get a brand new waste-free grocery store. In.gredients plans to become the country’s very first “package-free, zero waste grocery store.”, when they launch this year, with goals to-
“…to reduce waste by ditching packaging altogether – creating the nation’s first zero-waste, package-free grocery store! The community-oriented store will:
(a) sell local, organic groceries, (b) host community events like cooking lessons, concerts, and garden days, (c) feature local artwork, and (d) promote sustainability. Most importantly, customers can fill reusable containers (even ones brought from home!) with their groceries, making waste reduction easy, fun, and convenient!”
In.gredients was conceptualized by Christian, Joseph, and Patrick Lane, with their friends Chris and Brian, all with a knack for innovation, business sense and a passion for promoting sustainable living. They realized they could reduce their household waste considerably except for food packaging.
With the obvious tremendous waste reduction (you can get a low-down here), buying bulk foods can help you buy what you need in exactly the quantity you need it in. And there is no “putting groceries back” once you get home as they are already in containers! This helps cut costs for the consumer, reduce food wastage and promotes healthy eating through portion control. Unpackaged goods also means you are going to get local and fresh good that are good for you.
Unique Business Model- Crowdfunding
In.gredients is more than just a sustainable, packaging-free grocery store. The founders plan to open the store in 2011 through a unique business model- Crowdfunding. They hope to raise $15000 they need in start-up costs through public donations and incentives. This cash will go towards start up capital for basic construction, storage bins as well as a community garden, rainwater collection devices and wastewater treatment.
We hope that with with the success of stores like these, a food revolution will sweep across the US, that will help reduce landfill waste and bring healthy eating into focus.