The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

Zero-Waste Grocery Store

It’s common knowledge that plastic bags are bad for the environment. Everyone knows they’re a a "no-no". By trying to weed out plastic bags with reusable bags, it seems like the grocery shopping experience has become more “environmental". However, it’s easy to overlook what is actually going into the reusable bags: lots and lots of packaging. Packaging plays a big role in keeping food fresh and increasing its shelf life and it must be made out of relatively inexpensive material because its use is so fleeting. It has become a ritual experience to unwrap a product and throw away the remains without a second thought. Packaging makes up so much of our waste, and although it does prolong shelf life, preventing waste, in a lot of cases extra packaging is used for aesthetic reasons to help sell the product. A study conducted in 2012 in the United States, discovered that containers and packaging make up the biggest portion of MSW produced, over 75 million tons.  

 

Most packaging contains some sort of plastic. Yes, some plastics can be recycled and recovered, but lots can’t, especially when different types of plastic are mixed and it becomes difficult to separate them. This causes a need for sorting the different types of plastic, (increasing the cost), as well as each time its recycled, it looses its quality and is exposed to contamination of other types of plastic. It’s important to be aware of the items you buy, as well as how they are distributed. Especially since 50% of annual plastic production is attributed to disposable use, such as packaging. 

This is Valerie Leloup, she is attempting to find solutions to this issue. Packaging is such a huge topic because there are so many different types and methods to packaging, it's hard to narrow down a solution. Her solution is to create a zero waste grocery store. “NU Grocery”, is located in Ottawa and plans to open on Saturday, August 19th! The owner explains on her website, (http://nugrocery.com/our-story/), that she was shocked to hear that a study released by the World Economic Forum explained that by 2050, there would be “more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans”. She attempted to find her products in bulk rather than in single-use packaging. However, Valerie struggled to find all her products at the same store and had the idea to consolidate all zero-waste grocery needs into one place. Not only are the products sold in NU packaging-free, they are also natural and as much as possible, organic and local. All you have to do is bring in a reusable container and you have access to packaging-free produce, dairy, wheat products, cleaning products and much more. Basically anything you would need from your normal grocery store, you have access to packaging-free. They hope to expand across Canada. 

With more awareness being brought to this issue, hopefully Valerie’s idea will gain even more momentum and inspire consumers to follow her lead by working to reduce packaging waste. Make sure to check out her website! They also have an online store … 

 

 

-Allie Quigley 

 

https://www.plastics.ca/PlasticTopics/EnvironmentalSustainability/WasteManagement 

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/2012_msw_fs.pdf

 http://nugrocery.com/our-story/ 

https://www.thespec.com/living-story/7089409-bring-your-own-containers-low-and-zero-waste-food-stores-try-to-go-green/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3791860/ 

http://www.wemma.org.uk/img/landfill.jpg 

H&M's New Leaf

This Term's Writer: Allie Quigley