British Columbia

Zero-waste grocery store a hit on Salt Spring Island

The country's first zero-waste grocery store opened almost a year ago on Salt Spring. It has no packaging and everything is sourced from Canada.

Shoppers have to bring their own mason jars, boxes and bags to the Green grocery store.

The owner of the Green grocery store only buys one brand of each item, and it must be made in Canada. (Wayne Stadler)

Bring your own jars, boxes and bags.

That's the drill at the Green grocery store on Salt Spring Island, which was Canada's first zero-waste grocery store.

According to the store owner, Crystal Lehky, she only sells Canadian products with no packaging.

Lehky says she was inspired to start the business after spending an evening watching a documentary about islands of plastic floating in the ocean.

"I woke up at 4 a.m. and I thought, what if you could go to a grocery store and there was no plastic?" Lehky said.

"I did some internet research and I found out in Europe they are already doing this. By 6 a.m. I had an outline of what I wanted to do."

Lehky says walking into her small grocery store is quite a unique experience.

Crystal Lehky is the owner of the zero-waste Green grocery store on Salt Spring. (Wayne Stadler)

"There is one wall that has gravity feed bulk containers, and that's where we have dried food, beans and grains.

"Then, we have another section that has a whole bunch of taps where you find vinegar, honey, oil and then another section where you can find shampoo, conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent, dish soap and hand soap."

We only have one kind of kidney bean

The other novel feature of the store is that it only has one particular brand of each item.

"We have only one kind of kidney bean. We sourced the best kidney bean grown in Canada and that's the one we have."

Lehky admits that one of her greatest challenges is trying to find items manufactured in Canada.

"It's still really hard for us to find some products that we are desperately looking for. So that's tricky." 

Lehky says that the store will soon be selling meat, which will be frozen and wrapped in recyclable paper.

After a year in business, Lehky says local islanders have embraced the store.

The idea of zero-waste shopping does seem to be gaining traction as Vancouver has also had a series of pop-up grocery stores. 

Owner Crystal Lehky says her store is quite small, but that means it has a lower carbon footprint. (Wayne Stadler)