Check out this zero waste grocery store based in Brooklyn

Grocery shopping can be surprisingly unsustainable! Fresh produce and dry ingredients often come in plastic packaging that can end up sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years. That’s why zero-waste grocery store owner Katerina wants to make sustainable grocery shopping easier for everyone! 

In this episode of Extreme Minimalists, Katerina gives a tour of her Brooklyn-based zero-waste grocery store, Precycle (@precyclenyc), where almost all of the products are package-free.

Katerina explains that she first got the idea for Precycle from her son. “Back in 2015, my son was in kindergarten and they had a sustainability lesson. He came home one day and asked me a question. He was like, ‘Mommy, how long does plastic remain in a landfill?’” Katerina tells In The Know. “That sort of was a turning point for me. I realized that I want to make sure I don’t create waste, and I started looking for ways to do that.”

From that spark of inspiration, Precycle was born. Katerina decided to design a grocery shopping experience that makes it as easy as possible for customers to reduce the amount of food waste they produce. “Our zero-waste grocery store is basically designed in a way that customers can buy food without the plastic packaging, and also to buy an amount that is good for them, helping them to avoid wasting food,” Katerina explains. “The idea was to create something that’s sort of a combination of a farmer’s market and a bulk store.”

All of the products at Precycle are either 100% package-free or come in reusable or recyclable packaging. Katerina walks around the store, showing off the different products. “Mostly people come into the fridge and they pick their produce,” Katerina explains, showing the baskets full of fresh vegetables that sit in the store’s refrigerator. “Everything is without the packaging, so you can just take as much as you want.”

Katerina explains that, in addition to not having any packaging, most of Precycle’s products are locally sourced. “We take pride in selling locally grown produce,” she explains. “We also offer staples like olive oil, and we have things like wildflower honey, and maple syrup—all local.”

But Katerina doesn’t just sell food. The store also carries a variety of reusable cleaning products. Katerina shows off one of her favorite cleaning products: a reusable replacement for paper towels. “This is a wonderful product,” she says, holding up a colorful towel. “Instead of buying paper towels, you can just get this. You can sanitize it and wash it in a dishwasher.”

While Precycle is housed in a small space, it carries a surprising variety of products. “It might not look like it, but we have over 500 products in the store,” says Katerina. “Basically, it’s enough to make a wonderful meal for any taste and any cuisine.”

While buying package-free groceries might seem like a small act, Katerina believes that if everyone does it, it can have a serious impact. “Food waste and packaging waste is a tremendous contributor to landfills,” she explains. “I think it’s important to have these options so each one of us can make a small contribution.”

Katerina hopes that, one day, zero-waste grocery stores will become the standard. “I would like this kind of shopping to become the norm,” she concludes. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be Precycle, but I hope that there will be many other stores like this.”

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