At Maison Jar – a brand new grocery retailer positioned in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in New York Metropolis – silos of dry items line one wall. Dried beans, grains, pasta, nuts, and low are beside bins of cooking staples like flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar. A fridge on the wall reverse holds industrial-sized jars of olives, racks of eggs, and metallic trays of contemporary produce, and a freezer is stocked with plastic bins of frozen fruit and greens. Ready snacks like dried mangos, wasabi peas, gummy bears, and chocolate-covered nuts fill glass jugs on the middle tables.
The again of the shop has cabinets of metallic dispensers crammed with oil and liquid condiments – like soy sauce and vinegar – glass jars of free spices, and a desk of multi-gallon pump bottles of laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, physique lotion, and different private care merchandise. Every of those giant containers signifies the worth per pound of the product inside, in addition to its elements and origins – and, largely notably, there is no such thing as a packaging in sight. Clients come to the shop toting their very own containers – empty pasta sauce jars, espresso canisters, kombucha bottles, plastic yogurt jugs, and material produce baggage – to fill with groceries.
Maison Jar is certainly one of many zero-waste “refilleries” popping up throughout the nation, the place clients can use their very own vessels to fill with items, somewhat than utilizing single-use plastic containers offered by the shop or choosing from pre-weighed, pre-packaged bulk merchandise. Earlier than opening the shop this March, founder and proprietor Larasati Vitoux had labored for a pure ingredient producer, and earned a certificates in sustainability and meals techniques.
After returning house to France for a go to, Larasati Vitoux – who has lived in New York Metropolis for ten years – observed a change in how the French had been doing their grocery buying. “I noticed there have been an increasing number of package-free grocery shops,” she instructed EcoWatch in an interview. Whereas a comparatively new idea within the U.S., refilleries like Maison Jar are much more widespread in Europe: Glaskiste in Freiburg, Germany opened in 2017, and Negozio Leggero – which started in Turin, Italy in 2009 – now has greater than a dozen places throughout the nation. This pattern in waste-free buying has arisen in response to our plastic air pollution disaster, with plastic now discovered within the depths of the ocean, on distant islands, atop the best mountains, and even inside our personal blood.
Packaging accounts for 1 / 4 of all landfill waste, in line with the U.S. Environmental Safety Company, a lot of which is meals packaging. Whereas there aren’t any nationwide bans on single-use plastics within the U.S., particular person states and municipalities have been cracking down on this waste. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont all have some type of plastic bag ban, as do a number of bigger cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. New Jersey is instating a sweeping plastic ban to start in Might, which is able to embrace each plastic baggage and carryout containers. Particular person franchises are additionally making modifications; grocery store large Wegmans has dedicated to banning plastic baggage from all of its shops nationwide by the tip of the 12 months.
Refilleries take the dedication to waste-free buying one step additional, eliminating all plastic packaging, from olive oil jugs to provide baggage. At Maison Jar, clients should carry their very own containers (and baggage, in fact), or buy one of many reusable jars bought on the retailer. A field by the counter additionally holds donated and sanitized containers in case you go away your individual at house. Small scales are stationed on tables across the retailer, the place clients weigh their container – a course of that’s typically referred to as “tareing” at bulk meals retailers – and write the quantity on a chunk of masking tape affixed to the surface. They then fill the container with no matter product they need, utilizing the offered scoops and funnels, and word the identify of the product on a sticker. On the checkout counter, the load of the empty container is deducted, and the shopper is charged for the product by the pound.
Maison Jar follows within the footsteps of different refilleries within the tristate space, like The Refill Room in Hastings-On-Hudson, New York, and the Good Bottle Refill Store in Montclair, New Jersey (which additionally buys again bottles from items bought on-line to be refilled and reused in future orders). Many zero-waste retailers are discovering methods to innovate and make their merchandise extra extensively obtainable, together with Refillery LA in Western California, which has a cell van that sells private care merchandise and family cleansing provides alongside its route.
Whereas eliminating plastic packaging is a significant facet of Maison Jar’s environmental ethic, Vitoux emphasizes that their efforts go far past this. Each morning, she rides her bike to an area bakery to choose up bread (which additionally they promote by the pound), and the shop sources nearly fully from native distributors, just like the close by Brooklyn-based Selection Espresso Roasters, and Café Grumpy, which provide freshly roasted espresso beans. “We now have some closed-loops techniques,” says Vitoux. “As an example, for our coffees: they arrive with their buckets, we put them within the silos, we give them again the empty ones.” A lot of the shop’s dry items are available 25-pound packages, wrapped in an air-tight plastic liner to maintain the product contemporary, which is then recycled with Terracycle. “Probably the most essential issues is the choice of our merchandise,” she says. “We actually concentrate on having natural – produce particularly. I actually assume it’s a greater approach of harvesting and cultivating at present.”
Vitoux does, nevertheless, take into account value when selecting her merchandise. “I actually attempt to watch out with worth,” she says. “I need to be as accessible as attainable.” She says that, if the natural various to a product is prohibitively costly, she’s going to usually select the traditional selection in an effort to make the product extra accessible, which permits clients to view the shop as a one-stop-shop for all of their grocery wants. The refillery mannequin additionally promotes much less waste and, in flip, much less spending, says Vitoux.. “It actually makes a distinction that you simply don’t want to purchase some almonds to have three-quarters of it sit for a month and half.”
Whereas Maison Jar solely opened its doorways a month in the past, Vitoux is already contemplating the way forward for the shop, which may embrace supply choices and workshops with sustainability professionals.
Maison Jar is positioned at 566 Leonard St. in Brooklyn, NY, and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.