News Environment This Cool Company Offers Zero Waste Grocery Delivery in Vancouver Jarr packs its food in reusable glass jars and delivers by bike or car share. By Katherine Martinko Katherine Martinko Twitter Senior Editor University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated April 29, 2021 01:08AM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Jarr News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive One fundamental part of zero-waste living is taking your own containers to a store to fill them with ingredients. This eliminates the need for single-use packaging, but it can be a hassle – both the lugging of containers to and from a store, taring the containers prior to filling, and (sometimes) having to convince staff that it's OK to do so. Now imagine if you could skip all that work, but still have a fridge and pantry filled with beautiful glass jars of zero-waste food! Thanks to a new company called Jarr, residents of Vancouver, British Columbia, do have that option. Jarr — the name has 2 Rs for "reduce" and "reuse" — is the brainchild of Emily Sproule. It offers zero-waste grocery delivery service to the neighborhoods of North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Bowen Island. It's a simple yet clever model. Customers place an online order and receive a food box on their doorstep, all items in clean glass mason jars. The next time they order, they set out the washed old jars in the box and these are collected by the delivery person for reuse. Each jar has a $1 or $2 deposit to incentivize returns. Items are locally sourced, organic, and vegetarian. The groceries include pantry staples, fresh produce, and frozen foods, as well as household supplies and personal care products. "We offer foods like tomato sauce, fresh linguini, perogies, falafel, and hummus, all in returnable glass jars," Sproule tells Treehugger. "We love being able to offer people snacks like nuts, chocolate and vegan gummy candies because we know those snacky items can be where you might end up resorting to extra packaging at the grocery store. We are even looking at bringing in potato chips and can't wait to satisfy those chip cravings!" A grocery delivery box from Jarr. Jarr When asked how she came up with the idea for Jarr, Sproule expresses a sense of frustration and overwhelm to which many Treehugger readers can likely relate. "I started Jarr in May 2020 because I wanted to offer convenient, zero-waste solutions to help people reduce their household packaging waste," Sproule says. "Previously, I had been working full time as a General Manager, raising two little kids, and I found it incredibly hard to live within my values to shop package-free. I kept hearing about the plastic in our oceans, how little was actually getting recycled, and how we Canadians were shipping recycling to the global south." "I was waiting for established companies to provide easier zero-waste alternatives but it just never happened," she adds. "I felt trapped. So in April 2019, I made the decision to start Jarr. It took about a year of planning but once we got going, it all fell into place and we have been growing at 25% per month ever since." While the idea of ordering zero-waste groceries will no doubt appeal to many people, they may be concerned about cost. Sproule addressed this, explaining that it can be expensive, but also incredibly economical, depending on how you approach it. "Zero waste is built on minimalism, and when you buy less, you spend less. Start by using and reusing what you have at home," she says. "You don't need to outfit your entire kitchen and bathroom with expensive zero waste products. I have been using the same foaming soap pump in my bathroom for the last ten years. It came with a single-use soap I bought off the shelf and it works incredibly well all these years later." She went on to explain that, while some of the products listed on the site may be expensive, Jarr does strive to offer low-cost options. "Items like oats, legumes, and bar soaps are incredibly economical," she says. It's important to remember, too, that zero waste is a relatively new market, and early adopters often pay a higher price to kickstart a movement. "As larger companies get on board, the cheaper zero waste products will become," Sproule explains. "We need to show these multinationals that it is possible to use reusables instead of single-use packaging and it's time they join us in reducing packaging waste in the world." Emily Sproule stands in front of a delivery van. Jarr Jarr offers bicycle deliveries in a concentrated area of East Vancouver, with the potential to expand. The rest of its deliveries are done using a MODO car share in a vehicle selected to accommodate the number of boxes it's carrying. It is a compelling business model that is clearly resonating with shoppers if it's seeing such impressive growth. The convenience factor is huge, especially for busy working parents who can't spare the time to fill all their own containers at the grocery store, but very much want to cut down on surplus packaging. Learn more about Jarr here.