First waste-free grocery store to open, sell local produce with no packaging

Sylvia Butanda

[Updated on Nov. 18, 2011 at 10:44 p.m., store opening indefinite, pendant on building permit]

Forty percent of the 1.4 billion pounds of waste that enter landfills in the United States every day is single-use packaging, and a grocery store opening soon hopes to correct the problem.

In.gredients, the first completely waste-free grocery store in the country, promoted the business’ plans in partnership with Slow Food UT and Slow Money Texas-Austin at a potluck event Friday. The store, located at 2610 Manor Road, will sell food from local vendors in bulk to customers who bring their own containers.

Joseph Lane, co-founder of in.gredients, said the idea for the store originated at a bar when he and his brother were discussing how the bars on Sixth Street do not recycle bottles and how they wanted to create a business that didn’t generate waste.

“We didn’t want to be bar owners, so it was something I kicked out that there’s other businesses we can do with the same format of removing all the packaging,” Lane said.

Jaclyn Anderson, Slow Food UT’s education coordinator, said the student organization is designed to educate students about the importance of supporting the local food economy with their consumer choices and by volunteering with local organizations.

Anderson said Slow Food UT is looking forward to the opening of in.gredients because it is in an area where there isn’t already a grocery store.

“This can cause people to buy expensive junk food at convenience stores or eat fast food if they are unable to make it to a far away store,” Anderson said.

Anderson said local and organic food is expensive because of the current state of the nation’s food system.

“By supporting local businesses, our dollars and donated time are making the difference that slow-changing policies are not,” Anderson said.

Sophie Eckrich, Slow Money Austin’s lead organizer, said the chapter invests in sustainable local food systems.

“We’re about catalyzing investments into local food systems through an investment club where non-accredited investors can pool their money and give out loans to farmers and local food businesses,” Eckrich said.

Eckrich said in.gredients is an up-and-coming sustainable business when it comes to the way the store will be structured. She said customers will bring their empty containers from home or purchase compostable containers in the store and fill them with local food produce.

The store is expected to open its doors in six to eight weeks once they receive their building permit, and there are plans for a coffee shop and lunch space. In.gredients has been awaiting their permit for the past three months.

Brian Nunnery, marketer for in.gredients, said the “reduce, reuse, and recycle” phrase will be reinvented with the store’s opening.

“There has always been a buzz around recycling, but people don’t know it requires tons of energy to do it,” Nunnery said. “The store will not just recycle. It will reduce what you, as a customer, will use.”