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New, Zero-Waste Grocery Store in Austin

In.gredients, a new grocery store located in Austin, Texas, will launch this year, and tackle a fundamental design question—how can we stop using packaging when we buy food? We cannot continue to sustain the production and waste of plastic bags and products. But changing people’s minds seems as hopeless as inhabiting the moon! The In.gredients’ staffers have taken matters into their own hands.

Calling themselves “the first package-free, zero waste grocery store in the United States,” In.gredients prompts its customers to join the revolution this year, in tandem with their opening.

Considering our systems, which we use to operate what is now a very large—including over 6.7 billion hungry mouths—capitalist engine, we must look at the energetic cost of packaging and transporting our food. Robert Bateman, president of Roplast Industries, said, in a 2003 National Geographic article Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment, that plastics are victims of their own success. (A phrase that I quickly likened to humanity.) It’s cheap to produce plastic, and according to the article, plastic produces less waste than paper. Plastic’s material success has become its inevitable downfall in terms of the fact that we can’t seem to get rid of it! Not unlike the “success” of cancerous cells.

But, this isn’t a story about plastic; paper bags are equally wasteful. It’s about changing the way we operate, which requires a retooling of our engagement with groceries and food—a redesign of our grocery-going experience. And, In.gredients might actually lead the way!

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