Packaging-Free Grocery Store To Open In Texas

While there are plenty of farmers’ markets or bulk spice shops you can go to buy fresh goods with zero packaging, some entrepreneurs in Austin, TX, are aiming to open what they say is the first 100% packaging-free grocery store in the country.

Everything sold at in.gredients, which the owners plan to open in the fall, will be sold without packaging. The list of items includes the obvious like grains, produce, meat and spices, along with products we’re used to seeing in some sort of packaging, like beer, wine and cleaning materials.

Customers bring their own reusable containers from home, weigh them before shopping, fill them up with the various products and then weigh the full containers. The store will also offer compostable bags for shoppers who didn’t bring enough of their own containers.

Another benefit of a packaging-free store is that shoppers don’t have to buy any more or less than they need, so you’re not stuck with a nine extra eggs when you only need three for that recipe.

“Truth be told, what’s normal in the grocery business isn’t healthy for consumers or the environment,” in.gredients co-founder Christian Lane tells Time.com. “In addition to the unhealthiness associated with common food processing, nearly all the food we buy in the grocery store is packaged, leaving us no choice but to continue buying packaged food that’s not always reusable or recyclable.”

America’s First Zero-Packaging Grocery Store to Open in Austin [Time.com]

Thanks to Justin for the tip!

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  1. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    See this is the thing no one realizes any more. Food doesn’t come in a box. Maybe you have to put it in a bag to make it easy to carry, but food doesn’t come in a packet in a box that lasts for 5 years. Just no.

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      Just wondering though… for the items that would “normally come in a box” do they just have some guys in the back unboxing food and putting it into a big open bin? I mean, its just end-user packaging they’re getting rid of, not the packaging from the manufacturer to the retailer.

  2. PSUSkier says:

    Attention shoppers: just a reminder that all products have a 20% boutique fee attached to them for shopping at a grocery store that isn’t mainstream. We thank you for your continued patronage.

    • HFC says:

      This.

    • Bagumpity says:

      Of course, once you subtract out the cost (and additional weight) of all the additives, preservatives, bloaters, fluffers, aerators, hydrogenators, and oleonators (OK, I made that last one up), the reduction in cost due to the weight reduction will even it out.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Not to mention that if you shopped at ONLY this store, you’re guaranteed to be eating real, fresh, and wholesome food. Very little processed garbage.

        • Costner says:

          Except the food will likely spoil much faster due to lack of preservatives. People like to bash on the “unnatural” ingredients in modern food, but they are there for a reason. For someone like me I’d be chucking a LOT of food in the trash if it were not for preservatives. I hard a hard enough time eating a loaf of bread before it starts turning fuzzy the way it is.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            All the food this store will have is already available at other grocery stores. The spoilage factor is probably not going to change for anyone.

  3. sponica says:

    i’m assuming that beer without packaging means that you pick the number of beer bottles and that you’re not filling your own….

  4. Angus99 says:

    Goodness, it’s just like Sam’s grocery in Hooterville! I want a pickle.

  5. FatLynn says:

    I’m not totally clear on how this will be sanitary. Do employees fill your containers for you?

    • Jane_Gage says:

      You stick your hand all the way to the bottom of the tampon vat down to your elbows. If you arrive on the day they’re filling it, you’ve won.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Ever been to a Whole Foods or any kind of “buffet” style section of the store.

      A very large container holding rice, beans, etc. where you either shovel it in a container with a small scooper or some have a pull-release bar. I’m sure some items will need supervision, like the beer.

      Just like a healthy jelly-belly kiosk!

    • dulcinea47 says:

      Does your grocery store not have a bulk section? Or bulk coffee? The bins have little slider things on the bottom that you open and the bulk goods pour into the bag… there’s no way to stick your hand in there.

      My mom was going off about the mushrooms in open bins at the asian grocery the other day… um that’s the same way they are at my traditional western grocery.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I find the entire concept rather fascinating. Mason jars and other perminent storage containers are cheap. The hurdle is bringing them with you.

  7. mrvw says:

    that sounds like a pain in the ass.

  8. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    Could I please get some bagboy’s help in carrying my 2 lbs sack of nuts and my wife’s pork butt… Also don’t forget our groceries!!!

  9. Blueskylaw says:

    Wine in a jug FTW!!!!

  10. Coffee says:

    I get this image of a trendy-looking market with hip young customers out from…and a whole bunch of discarded packaging in the back.

    • Coffee says:

      from = front…learn to type, Coffee.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        I doubt they’ll be able to avoid the packaging they receive with the bulk items, no. If they get big enough they might be able to work with shippers and supply-originators to send them their products in better containers.

        Your avatar rocks my world, by the way.

  11. PercyChuggs Was Found At JFK Airport says:

    I would only go there for hot dog buns. It’s a tired bit from every 80′s comedian hack, but they pacakage hot dogs and sausages in packs of either 5 or 6….and hot dog buns in packs of 8. Assholes!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You CAN get hot dogs in packages of 8.

      • PercyChuggs Was Found At JFK Airport says:

        Maybe Oscar Meyer weiners, but I only eat the best, daddio!

        • Costner says:

          Ballpark franks… also in packages of eight.

          Actually I just buy whatever is on sale most of the time and it seems they all come in packages of eight unless you want the ginormous variety or something like brats. THen you need to by brat buns which come in packs of six.

          It really isn’t that hard man… if your store violates these common rules they are probably communist and using the metric system and violating an embargo of some type thus you should boycott them.

  12. psm321 says:

    Given the state of bulk dispensers I usually see, I wouldn’t consider those healthy

    • Adam9932 says:

      +1

      This is the reason I don’t buy in bulk. I see kids playing in them all the time.

      But, we all should focus on less packaging and re-using when it makes sense. When groups take causes to the extremes people react with ridicule.*

      *Source: comments in this posting.

  13. Eyeheartpie says:

    Austin…somehow the capital of Texas and the only ultra-liberal city/county in the state. How the hell did that city happen?

    Disclaimer: I miss Austin. Best city I’ve ever lived in.

  14. failurate says:

    I bet their floors are sticky.

  15. Jfielder says:

    This would be great if I was looking to turn my grocery shopping into an 8 hour ordeal.

  16. Zydia says:

    Sounds interesting. Hauling a bunch of tupperware around isn’t appealing to me, but If it translates into lower costs, maybe I’d do it. Looks like it will be easier to spot when food prices change, too.

  17. samann1121 says:

    This would be a great idea, except that I’d have no way to tell how fresh things are. It’d be really easy to let the items that don’t see as much traffic just sit in the bin for months and months. Ew.

  18. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    cleaning supplies…. i can’t wait for the story on some idiot refilling a bleach bottle with ammonia

  19. speling_champ says:

    I stopped buying in bulk after my sesame seeds had worms a week after I bought them. The bulk bins at the very nice health food store near me are gross. They are stacked two or three high–any little kid could be playing in them at any time.

  20. sirwired says:

    I’m guessing they’ll be charging a premium price for this. It’s been tried before with “regular” groceries, and it just hasn’t turned out to be profitable. I’m guessing the main reason why is that your shelf-space efficiency per $ sold takes a nosedive.

    Basic staples are already low profit margin. Once you lose the overhead and near-floor space, your profits just disappeared, unless you charge extra.

    • darklighter says:

      Why would they charge a premium? At most grocery stores I’ve seen with bulk bins, the bulk items are cheaper. The fact that they won’t have to provide bags or containers lowers their overhead even further, so in theory, they could charge less than other stores charge for their bulk items.

  21. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    There is a reason we have one of the safest food supplies in the world. This is not it.

  22. vastrightwing says:

    Many years ago, bulk foods was the rage. This rage lasted about 2 years and for some strange reason, totally stopped.

    I understand and even like the idea, I just don’t think shoppers will find it convenient enough to make the idea last. Just some of the things I think will be problematic:
    1) Customers sampling the loose nuts, cereal, fruit, etc.
    2) Sanitation.
    3) Hassle of weighing everything.
    4) Putting the proper barcode label on container.
    5) Checkout will take longer since everything will have to be weighed and/or counted.
    6) You will buy more product since people tend to do that if they won’t weigh the product.
    7) Milk will spoil faster since consumers won’t properly sanitize bottles.
    8) Consumer bags will break when porting flour and sugar since they won’t seal the containers properly.
    9) Consumers will decide they don’t want one of the products they put in the cart and will either leave the contents in the wrong place or spill it on the floor or put it back after contaminating the product first.

    No, this won’t end well.

  23. Snoofin says:

    This would be a HUGE pain in the ass to shop at and you would NEVER see me there. Its bad enough you took away my light bulbs

  24. Costner says:

    I can see the signage now. Flour: 89 cents per pound… now with 30% more weevils!

    There are certain things I’ll buy in bulk… but I can’t see a grocery store like this being my only grocery store which means one more trip to a “regular” store every week. Not sure it is worth in to save a bit of packaging that I recycle anyway… especially when there is a high probability it will cost more and be a much bigger hassle (toting around my rubbermaid, bags, bins, and boxes doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend a Tuesday night).