Food doesn't have to come with tons of plastic waste.
It's nearly impossible to make a trip to the grocery store and not wind up with a mound of plastic in the garbage. But some stores are trying to change that. I recently visited Precycle, a zero-waste grocery store in Brooklyn that just opened its doors. The store minimizes waste, selling in bulk rather than plastic.
Katerina Bogatireva, who started Precycle, hails from Latvia.
"It’s not acceptable in my culture to waste food," Bogatireva said. In Latvia, she remembers bringing her own resusable containers into stores.
"Things like that still exist in many countries," she said.
When she first moved to the U.S., everything seemed so easy. She happily went along with the plastic packaging she saw everywhere.
"You forget your values for a few years," Bogatireva told me. But as she got older, she became more reflective. "I remember looking at my mothers in law's trash can and thinking, 'This is right'," she said.
So Bogatireva decided to open a grocery store in Brooklyn where people could buy food from bulk containers and avoid all plastic. It took years, but her store is now open for business.
"I’ll take it easy on people at the beginning," she said. "I’ll provide paper bags." Over time, she hopes to encourage customers to always bring their own bags. She wants that to become the new social norm.
"I think that everybody has to make their choices," she said. "It’s a drop in the sea, but it has to start somewhere."
Or really, it has to continue.
"It’s an old idea," she said. "It’s not something new; it’s just going backwards."