After six months in business, Austin, TX’s innovative grocer, in.gredients, is taking stock of its progress. In a detailed infographic, the TakePart Tastemaker cites some impressive numbers in terms of local ingredient-sourcing and food production, impressive building-efficiency stats, and other laudable numbers.
But here’s what really sticks out: The store is sending less than one pound of garbage to the landfill each month. Furthermore, in.gredients hasn’t sent any food waste to the landfill since it opened.
Even without context, that’s an impressive statistic. If you aren’t being careful, you could easily toss a pound of food in the trash just by prepping dinner. And when you consider food retailers’ lousy track record on this front, the significance of in.gredients’ achievement become even more clear: The industry’s in-store food losses amounted to 43 billion pounds in 2008, according to a 2012 report from the National Resources Defense Council. That’s equivalent to ten percent of the total retail food supply.
“There’s no waste in nature. Waste is a human invention,” reads the store’s “Ethos” page. So in that sense, in.gredients is working to map nature onto a retail model. Zero packaging and zero waste is the ultimate goal for the shop, and six months in, it appears to be quickly moving in that direction.
As a consultant told the NRDC, approximately one in seven truckloads of perishable goods headed for supermarkets is thrown away. Clearly, a new, wasteless model would be a welcome development.
Related stories on TakePart:
• Americans Throw Away Almost Half of All Food, Waste $165 Billion
• The U.N. Wants Clean Plates and Less Food Waste
• Should We Be Eating More ‘Expired’ Foods? A Former Trader Joe’s Exec. Thinks So
Willy Blackmore is the food editor at TakePart. He has also written about food, art, and agriculture for such publications as TastingTable, Los Angeles Magazine, The Awl, GOOD, LA Weekly, The New Inquiry, and BlackBook. Email Willy | TakePart.com