Waste not, want not

Waste not, want not

Brian Nunnery of in.gredients, a new zero waste grocery store. Photo: Patrick Lane Photography

One way of looking at the world is to see how many problems there are, with many of them seeming intractable.

Another way is to see any given problem as an opportunity to create solutions, including solutions that make the world a better place.

Sold on garbage

Ever since I heard about the zero waste* phenomenon, I’ve taken a personal interest in examining the garbage I generate. And I’ve tried to bring some consciousness to that garbage to see where and how I can make less of it.

It isn’t easy.

In so many ways the industrial world isn’t set up for less of anything, including trash!

When we add branding and advertising concerns, we find that most businesses making a product are thinking about using every inch of their packaging to re-sell us on buying their product again. Most business rank that much higher than producing less waste.

Sure, some packaging is recyclable, and that’s great. But of the classic three R’s — reduce, reuse, recycle — recycling, though more popular, is actually considered the least important to sustainability. It’s reducing and reusing that we really need to focus on.

In other words, our packaging use and trash accumulation is a really huge problem for industrial societies, leading to all kinds of issues with the acidity of the oceans, pollution of the land, strain on our waterways, the harvesting of trees, and the use of toxic petroleum in the production of plastics.

No trash talking

Fortunately there are people who see the whole consumption-packaging-waste-health-sustainability puzzle as a problem that can easily be an opportunity.

In particular, I’m talking about the geniuses behind in.gredients, an Austin, Texas based group of folks with the aim to create the first zero-waste and no packaging grocery store.

Clearly that’s a vision to create a better world in the process of solving a big problem.

In fact, I want to shop there, so I hope, as their website says, they’ll consider franchising their concept soon so we could maybe get one here in Charlottesville (though our local health and sustainability stores are wonderful, too.)

This Saturday I’ll talk with Christian Lane, co-founder of in.gredients, about the concept and logistics behind this store.

But more than that, we’ll discuss how a solution this simple can be so compelling for consumers while also creating a business opportunity, jobs, and prosperity for many in the surrounding community who will provide in.gredients with local farm goods.

What does an idea like this tell us about our world? Can we live in a way that is both delightful to the senses, prosperous for our communities, and yet makes a small footprint?

I bet I know the answer to that one. But I’m still excited to hear more about this vision and how soon in.gredients will be up and running. I hope you’ll tune in this Saturday.

–Jennifer Till, Real Life with Jennifer Till

*Listen to my conversation about zero waste with Deborah Eden Tull, author of The Natural Kitchen: Your Guide to the Sustainable Food Revolution.

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