If you haven't already heard, Portland is expecting quite a few zero waste groceries stores to pop up in the coming years. And if you're wondering what a zero waste grocery store is exactly, you're not alone. Because "zero waste" is a term used in so many contexts and to mean so many things, what these grocery stores will look like varies a lot. They do have one thing in common however: bulk. A hallmark of a zero waste grocery store is providing access to as much as possible in bulk; promoting customers to bring their own container and bags; and providing deposit systems for returnable containers.
There are only around 300 stores across the world that market themselves as "zero waste" and Portland is lucky enough to be expecting more than one! Over the past few months I've sat down with the owners of these stores to get you the inside scoop on where they will be, what they'll offer, and when you can expect to start buying your groceries there.
NoPac Foods: Zero Waste Grocery
Founded by Emily Robb, NoPac Foods: Zero Waste Grocery aims to provide customers with what feels like a typical grocery store experience, without all the waste. They plan on opening a large store in SE Portland with a focus on ethically sourced local produce, products, and bulk. Emily's goal is to create a space where customers can find everything that they would find in a typical grocery store, with the same convenience people have come to expect. She, and her growing team, have come up with a variety of ways to make shopping in bulk easy for customers across all areas!
They will be offering dry bulk goods, like your standard flours, sugars, and trail mixes, but also have harder to come by items. Through a bottle deposit system, they'll offer items like cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, pickles and salad dressing all in returnable glass jars. Not to mention things like honey, olive oil, shampoo, lotion, and butter!
Things from the deli and meat counter will be sold in compostable butcher paper. And since butcher paper isn't accepted in the curbside composting system in Portland, they are partnering with Recology directly to have a composting system in place for all of the compostable products and food waste offered in the store. Everything in the store will be reusable, curbside recyclable, or compostable through their store program. Customers can even elect to participate in their composting program for a small fee and drop off their home compost when they visit the store!
NoPac Foods will open in late 2019 or early 2020.
Good Life Market
Similar to NoPac Foods, the Good Life Market is a grocery store designed to make bulk shopping easy. Jenni Lippold, a mother of two children, designed this store so parents could easily come in and shop for their families, without all the extra plastic. Their store will roll out traditional pantry items in bulk with a focus on kids snacks that usually come wrapped in plastic. They will also be offering dairy and beauty products in bulk after first opening (along with a large produce section) and then add in meat once settled in. They plan on having a community room as well that will be open for workshops during the evenings!
Good Life Market is currently in its "funding" stage and is seeking contributions from the community to secure their financial backing. By April 22nd they need to raise $40,000 in order to show their backers that the community is ready to support the zero waste movement here in Portland. If you'd like to see Good Life Market up and running in the summer of 2019, consider donating to their campaign today!
The Good Life Market will launch in the summer of 2019 (if funded) in the St. John's area of Portland.
Rose City Refillery
Run by Jessica Stackpoole, Rose City Refillery is starting small this summer at the farmer's markets in north Portland. With a focus on alternative milks, she will be offering a blend of almond and hazelnut milk in refillable containers at farmer's markets around Portland. She is also rolling out test batches to friends and family (which I have been thankfully able to get in on) and the feedback has been amazing! Jessica's almond milk is literally the best type of alternative milk I have ever had in my coffee. It's homemade and tastes amazing!
At the farmer's markets this summer, Jessica will have her zero waste nut milk on tap! You'll be able to pick up your weekly supply of fresh nut milk, dispensed on site into a redeemable glass container. You can also donate any glass container in good condition to receive a discount on your purchase. She will then sanitize and reuse the containers to "close the loop" on packaging! Just imagine how many cartons you could save from reaching the landfill. All while enjoying a delicious locally made alternative to the mass produced brands, often containing unnecessary additives. You can find her at the following markets:
OHSU Market, Tuesdays 10am-2pm, June-Sept
Kenton Market, Wednesdays 3pm-7pm, June-Sept
Cully Market, Thursdays 4pm-8pm, June-Aug, 4pm-7pm in September
If all goes well with her summer launch, Rose City Refillery also has plans to launch a physical store in the coming years with a focus on zero waste, unique grocery items in bulk, local workshops, and of course, refillable nut milk!
Are you fortunate enough to have a zero waste grocery store in your area or have one coming soon?