Short version: We were inspired to open our own zero waste grocery store when we realized how inconvenient it is to shop zero waste. We would run around from one store to another in our attempt to do our groceries sustainably. We would make a trip to a bulk store for package free dry goods, the farmer's market for local produce, specialty stores for bulk soap refills and sustainable alternatives, and a regular grocery store for everything else. In our quest to live sustainably, we found ourselves using more gas and more time, and this was frustrating. It would be so much easier to shop zero waste if we could do all our groceries in one place, we thought… And so the idea for Zero Waste Bulk, a one stop zero waste grocery store, was born.
Long version (as told by Ellin): In 2016, I came across the idea of trying to live "zero waste". Trying to live zero waste means trying to live sustainably by reducing the amount of stuff you send to the landfills. At the same time as learning about zero waste, I was just getting into minimalism. In trying to incorporate minimalism into my life, I thought about all the stuff I had accumulated over the years. Much of this stuff was unloved, unneeded, and were destined for the landfills. I was a blind consumer of material goods, and I wanted more and more up until this point of realization.
Both minimalism and zero waste woke me up into becoming a more conscious consumer. While I've always cared about the environment and recycled what I could, I've never really critically reflected on my consumption habits and the norm of producing and taking out the garbage. Filling up the garbage bin (with what could not be recycled) was normal - it was just a part of life. I thought I was doing my part by recycling all that could be recycled and not littering the streets. Meanwhile, I had continued to buy products in excess packaging, accepted single-use disposables, and enjoyed the convenience of plastics while feeling like I was preventing waste by recycling them.
When I learned about how there were people trying to live zero waste, I realized I could do so much more to reduce my impact on the environment. I realized my regular trash making was unnecessary and that plastics could not be truly recycled - only downcycled. The goal shouldn't be filling up the recycling bin. Rather, we should be aiming for both an empty garbage bin and recycling bin, prioritizing reducing our consumption and viewing recycling as a form of trash management rather than the solution to our waste making problem.
Inspired by others participating in the zero waste movement and passionate about making the world a better place, I decided I would also try to live zero waste. However, there were some obstacles that made it difficult to live zero waste. In trying to reduce my waste, I would find myself making a trip to bulk food stores for package free dry goods, the farmer's market for local, package free produce, specialty stores for bulk soaps and sustainable alternatives, and my usual conventional grocery store for everything else. It was time consuming and impractical to try to do groceries zero waste. I wanted a one stop shop for zero waste groceries and sustainable alternatives and none existed in the region. From this need and my desire to make it easier for others to live more sustainably, I got the idea to start my own zero waste grocery store.