Package-free provisions: Vancouver's first zero waste grocery store open for business
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, December 4, 2017 6:00AM PST
Look inside the average grocery cart and you’re sure to find a lot of packaging. You’ve got meat that’s wrapped in cellophane and Styrofoam, plastic containers filled with yogurt and cereal sealed in not one, but two layers of packaging.
It’s estimated that 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. And it’s something Vancouver’s first zero waste grocery store wants to put an end to.
“We generate way too much garbage and plastic waste. It’s dire,” said Linh Truong, co-owner of The Soap Dispensary + Kitchen Staples.
Truong and her husband, Stewart Lampe, opened The Soap Dispensary in 2011, and have now expanded to include grocery staples as well, becoming the first permanent packaging-free grocery store in the city.
Customers bring their own containers or jars into the Main Street location and fill them with all the store has to offer.
There’s a sea of taps pouring all kinds of bulk liquids such as olive oil, honey and soy sauce. Customers can also purchase frozen items such as pierogis, cookie dough and dumplings, all of which are sold in bulk as well.
There is also fresh food and spices, but no plastic containers or bags to take away.
“I just bring my own containers and don't have to pay any extra packaging," said customer Elani Parsons.
As the store’s name suggests, The Soap Dispensary also sells soaps, raw ingredients for cleaning products and homemade cosmetics.
"I have had customers who've come in and said their grandmother used to shop like this or their parents used to shop like this in Europe or Asia," Truong said.
The Recycling Council of B.C. says 40 per cent of our garbage is packaging. Truong says her store has diverted over 172,000 containers since it first opened in 2011.
“I think it’s great. I’d love to see more of it,” said Harvinder Aujala with the Recycling Council of British Columbia,”I think what Linh and her team are proving is that you don't need to have packaging and there are alternatives."
As for price, we're told buying in bulk can still be cheaper than buying in packages, but it also depends on the products you're looking for.