Sustain Eco Store staff have finally fulfilled their dream of incorporating an organic bulk food market into their Main Street E store.
Manager Julien Rogers says that their ultimate goal is to make healthy bulk food widely accessible to the community.
For more than 10 years, Sustain has been selling sustainably and ethically made home, body, and home improvement products. They have long offered refillable body care and cleaning products to reduce consumer waste; adding bulk foods to their product line was a natural progression.
They made it a priority to ensure the bulk foods are all unprocessed, organic, and affordable.
“Part of what we found in our market research was that organic products are actually cheaper than the packaged supermarket versions,” said Rogers. “In addition to eliminating packaging, when you buy from us you are also helping to reduce food waste because you can get the exact amount of something you need for a recipe and it won’t sit in your cupboard for years.”
Organic food also has a lesser environmental impact—the farming practices are more sustainable, it is grown in a more nutrient-dense environment, and the food is free from pesticides.
Supporting local is also important to Sustain, so they are looking for as many local bulk options as possible. Producers who are interested can contact the store.
“When you take a look at your recycling bin, the number one thing that’s in there is food packaging,” said Sustain’s co-owner Celine Mackay. “We want to encourage healthy cooking that was bought without packaging. Through COVID we really saw the benefit of having a pantry that was packed with healthy, bulk food, and cooking from scratch.”
When food is bought in bulk, costs are lower, and the Sustain team wanted to transfer those savings to their customers. Sustain is keeping prices as low as they can, in some cases the same or lower than other bulk stores, but for unprocessed, 100 per cent organic options.
“I think every community needs something like this,” said Rogers. “We’re being faced with a climate crisis and without stores and businesses offering the public the solutions and tools we need to help them along we won’t get anywhere. We are stepping up the challenge and providing people with a solution to make a difference.”
“Over the years so much of what we promote is focused on educating our customers on how to eliminate waste, especially with food. We are so excited to now be able to take our customers through the full, zero-waste process,” said Mackay.
Sustain’s organic bulk food market includes six types of fresh-milled flour, cane and date sugars, dried fruits, seeds, rice, grains, pasta, popcorn, candy, tea, coffee, and grass=fed butter and cheese. Eighty per cent of their food offerings are gluten-free.
Staff have left about half of the bins empty because they want customer feedback on what other bulk foods they should carry. They also plan to include olive oil, vinegars, nut butters, maple syrup, and honey.
Staff will be taking necessary precautions during COVID. Customers are asked to bring in clean containers and staff members will wipe everything down after it’s been touched, or staff can fill your containers for you.
Sustain Eco Store is located at 114 Main Street E. Learn more at shop.sustainecostore.com.
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