retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal has a story about so-called “zero-waste grocery stores,” defined as retail businesses in which everything that is sold comes without packaging. Such a place is Nada, in Vancouver, British Columbia: “No plastic around that cucumber. Toothpaste in glass jars. Herbs do not come pre-portioned in a plastic container. Customers take a sprig or two, exactly what they need.”

The writes that “one store won’t end plastic pollution. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American generates more than 1,600 pounds of trash a year. But Nada is starting a conversation and a trend. There are zero-waste grocery stores in Brooklyn, Denver, London and Berlin, and dozens more specializing in beauty and household products.

“In many ways, these stores are the progeny of the natural food co-ops that sprouted in the 1970s. But the women - and they are almost all women - opening zero-waste stores now understand that to succeed they have to build in convenience. There are no mandated work hours or membership fees. If you don’t have your own container you can buy or borrow one that’s been cleaned and sanitized.”
KC's View:
Is this going to become a major trend? Probably not. Is it likely to remain the very definition of a niche business? Almost certainly.

But … it is ideas like these that move things forward a bit, that begin to address real problems - and I view Americans generating 1,600 pounds of trash a year per person as a problem - that many of us don’t think about, much less do things to address.

I’m sure there will be health department issues and all sort of other problems that will serve as barriers to growth. But still I say, good for them. I applaud their idealism and willingness to put some muscle behind it.