Local organic grocery store Ellwood Thompson’s will host its monthly “Zero Waste Store Tour” Thursday, Sept. 6 to offer tips to shoppers interested in reducing their waste.
Richmond native and registered dietician Erica Wells has led the tours since October 2017. Wells said she was happy to begin volunteering her time educating shoppers at Ellwood Thompson’s.
“A lot of it can be intimidating at first,” Wells said about waste-free shopping. “So the tours might help people who are interested in seeing what kind of changes they can make.”
At the end of 2016, Wells was inspired to cut back on how much she purchased and threw away. After she had her daughter, she began to realize the amount of waste produced by diapers alone.
Through “a gradual process over the last year,” Wells is proud to say she no longer uses a trash can. Her tours at Ellwood Thompson’s aim to help shoppers start the same process.
First, shoppers on the tour are led through the steps of browsing locally-sourced, in-season fruits and vegetables. In that area, Wells likes to encourage her guests to pick the imperfectly shaped foods, as those are not typically purchased despite their edibility.
Then the tour brings guests through the bulk section, where they learn how to use scales to shop with their own containers from home to prevent waste buildup from plastic food packaging.
The remainder of the hour includes a visit to the beauty section where shoppers can find items including bamboo toothbrushes, jarred natural deodorant, bulk shampoo and soap.
The tour also offers small lifestyle tips, such as avoiding disposable coffee cups, bringing reusable bags to the store and using a refillable water bottle.
“The big thing is doing what you can,” Wells said. “Anybody can make a change, regardless of what their financial situation is.”
Wells’ blog, awastenotkindoflife.com, documents her zero-waste lifestyle as a mother in Richmond.
Waste reduction is a recurring theme of the Ellwood Thompson’s brand. Along with buying and sourcing local products, the store does not use plastic bags or plastic straws. Instead, shoppers can find 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper bags at the register and compostable, plant-based straws in their beverages.
Additionally, Ellwood Thompson’s says that 60 percent of its store waste is recycled. Food scraps and pulp from juicers are composted, along with compostable to-go cups and food containers.
Those interested can visit www.ellwoodthompsons.com/events. The tours start at the customer service desk and last from 7-8 p.m.
Andrew Ringle, Contributing Writer