Last week a good friend of mine sent me an article about a new grocery store opening in downtown Ottawa, called NU Grocery.
Basic premise? A zero-waste grocery store. That immediately caught my attention, of course.
I’ve been working on reducing my food-related waste footprint, but it’s difficult. So I took the first opportunity I could to check the place out.
It wasn’t a very big store, about the size of the Bulk Barn that I have been frequenting. But it was much less crowded than the Bulk Barn and the items were laid out more attractively. There was a pretty decent variety of everyday needs for sale, including some that I haven’t found zero-waste anywhere else, like dish soap. I wandered about and looked at everything in the place, then went ahead to do my shopping.
And that’s when I realized the secondary premises of NU Grocery. Not only is it a zero-waste grocery store, it’s also a grocery store that specializes in locally sourced, organic food.
I don’t normally buy organic or local because of the extra expense, but they’re certainly initiatives that I can appreciate. So I did my shopping and spent a little more I would have elsewhere and came home.
That’s the end of the story, but I like talking about stuff, so we’re not done yet.
I have to wonder how long this place will survive. It certainly wasn’t busy when I went, though it had a relatively steady stream of people in and out. Most of them weren’t buying anything, but at least they were getting foot traffic.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t willing to pay extra for organic and locally sourced and zero-waste food. It’s not important enough. I’m attempting to live a zero-waste lifestyle, so I’m willing to pay for that. And I know that organic food is healthier, so I’m willing to pay for that, though I’ve never bought organic before. And I am happy to support local growers, so I’m willing to pay for that as well. Is it smart to pay for all of that? For me, yes. But for most people in Ottawa, probably not. They don’t care about the crammed garbage can that they put out at the curb every week. It’s just not on their horizon.
In the end, I’m glad that this place has opened up, though it’s out of my way and it has limited selection. I’m glad because it’s a sign that there are other people who care about the environment. The owners wouldn’t have opened a store if they didn’t think it was sustainable. Only time will tell if they were right or not. But as it stands, it’s a step in the right direction and a reminder for everyone that this earth is important, and maybe we should all be thinking about how we’re impacting it.