Archive for July 18th, 2011

Package Free Groceries

This is not my typical Meatless Monday post…but interesting nevertheless. There is a package free grocery store opening inAustin,TX. in.gredients encourages shoppers to bring their own containers but have compostable and recyclable containers on hand as well.

 How it Works:

What they Offer:

  • Produce
  • Organic grains (rice, beans, oats, cereals, and the like)
  • Spices (enough to fill your spice cabinet)
  • Loose leaf tea and coffee beans
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Natural baking ingredients (flours, sugars, yeast, etc)
  • Oils (olive, vinegar, and so forth)
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese)
  • Local beer and wine (bring your clean and empty growlers and wine bottles)
  • Household items (cleaners, toiletries, etc)

All of these items will be one of the following:

  • Package-free
  • Package-light (recyclable packaging that’s required to ensure food safety)

and either:

  • Locally grown (as in, it came out of Central Texas dirt)
  • Locally sourced (coffee beans, for example, aren’t grown here – but can be “sourced” from a local roaster)

and will be:

  • Organic
  • All-natural (when organic is unavailable)

 FAQ’s

Will deli/premade food available?

Yes, prepared foods will be available. In some cases, depending on the type of food and the means required to keep it safe, this food will be sold in either compostable, highly reusable, and/or recyclable packaging.

How do you plan to prevent cross-contamination from not-so-well-washed reuseable containers?

We’ll follow best practices and guidelines for distributing bulk foods. We’ll do everything we can and take extra steps to help minimize the risk of contamination in our store – including washing our scoopers/tongs multiple times every day and educate our customers on container safety. However, while our efforts will ensure a clean, healthy environment inside the store, we can’t guarantee flawless protection – no bulk store can.

Smaller bins and more frequent re-stocking will help minimize waste in the event a bin is deemed “contaminated.” Contaminated food will be composted and eventually sold as a compost.

How will I keep track of what my containers weigh?

The first time you bring a container into the store, we’ll weigh it while it’s empty and put a permanent (and aesthetically unintrusive) mark on it indicating its tare weight. From that point forward, we’ll always be able to calculate empty weight – filled weight to determine item cost.

How will local vendors who traditionally prepackage their products be able to sell at your store?

We’ll generally avoid pre-packaged items – while some are recyclable, our goal is to reduce the energy consumed by both landfilling and recycling and prioritizing “reuse.” However, there are some items that require minimal packaging for food safety purposes, and some for other practical means. In these cases, we’ll ensure the minimal packaging is either compostable, highly reusable, and/or recyclable.

Are you really package-free?

In short, yes. “Package-free” is a buzzword in the world of sustainable food, so it carries some ambiguity. The vast majority of the items in.gredients offers are package-free , although some items may require packaging to meet food safety requirements. Fill your containers with food or use the compostable containers we offer inside.

Will you carry toothpaste?

Yes. Toothpaste can be stored in a container that dispenses it with a small pump. We hope to carry it in the future – as well as other toiletries/household cleaners.

What if I don’t want to bring my own containers to the store?

No worries. You can use the compostable containers we offer inside to fill with food. We promote the reuse of containers to reduce waste; that’s why we encourage our customers to bring their own containers. A little planning or carrying of a precycle set in the car goes a long way to promoting sustainability.

What do you think of this concept? Sounds great but do you think it will catch on?

Source: Enviromom.com ; ingredients  

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