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No more shrink wrap: Would you support a 'zero waste' grocery store?

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How many time have you stood at the grocery store checkout, wondering how rude it would be to ditch the excess packaging on some of the products you buy? The needless boxes. The plastic shrink wrap. And all those Styrofoam trays.

Then, you look at the overworked cashier and realize you'd only be making her shift more annoying, so you stay quiet and haul it all home.

Well, a company in Austin, Texas, is hoping to cash in on that suppressed shopping angst with a packaging-free, zero-waste grocery store, called in.gredients. Consider it an upgrade on the stereotypically bleak bulk food store and its bins of mystery food.

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Customers at the awkwardly-named store will be able to buy mostly local produce, milk, beer, grains - even eggs for brave souls - using containers they bring from home. (Disposable bags will be available if they forget.) Just weigh the container empty, then weigh it full and you get your price.

"Truth be told, what's normal in the grocery business isn't healthy for consumers or the environment," in.gredients co-founder Christian Lane told Time magazine. "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."

So, the new store will also eliminate a whole category of food, according to the Brothers Lane website.

"We're taking that middle section of the usual grocery store out. You know, the one with the [over]rocessed, unhealthy food. Instead we offer only the highest quality in.gredients…not the packaging, not the waste, and not the damage."

So, not only will consumers be able to cut down on their carbon footprint, they might also cut down on their consumption of crap, just by virtue of shopping at the store. And Austin parents must be counting the days until a grocery shop doesn't have to include a struggle in the cereal aisle and the checkout over the kid-magnet big brands.

In.gredients plans to open in October, if they meet their fundraising goals, according to Time.

Would you frequent a package-free store? Is this an idea whose time has come?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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