The Culinary Wonders of Salt Spring Island, B.C. - Part II: "Green Zero-Waste Grocery"
“Green Zero-Waste Grocery”. A one-stop grocery shopping experience like no other...at least not in Canada!
The face behind this business is Crystal Lehky, an entrepreneur looking to revolutionize the retail grocery shopping industry by working to eliminate the abundance of packaging all too often goes hand-in-hand with purchasing food. While this zero-waste, low-impact grocery shopping concept has already taken off in Germany and be well-received by Europeans, this is a first for Canada.
“Green” can be discovered on the picturesque Salt Spring Island, located on the Strait of Georgia in the Gulf Islands of Western Canada. Situated between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, Salt Spring Island is bountiful in local food, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, farmstead cheese and kombucha. Yes, please!
Why did this local business catch my attention via a news article, which I timely discovered just a couple of weeks prior to my visit to island? Let me count the ways!
At the heart of this business is “a belief in health, community, prosperity and environmental security”. Enough said! ;)
The multitude of products the store carries as inventory is are obtained from Salt Spring Island’s farming and business community as much as possible. Furthermore, Green also aims to obtain food possessing as little spray and processing as possible. When products need to be sourced from beyond Salt Spring Island, the business then shifts its purchases to supporting the local communities of Vancouver Island, followed by the mainland offerings of British Columbia, followed by Canadian sources beyond that of British Columbia’s borders. Locally-sourced food is evidently a priority, as all products are either grown or processed in Canada. Interestingly, the Green interviews the farmers, producers and small business owners responsible for the products sourced, so that the story of the food production process is known by both the owners and customers alike.
The inventory of food available at Green arrives to the store in sterilized, reusable packaging. Green supplies its clientele with an impressive range of non-packaged bulk food products. Customers may either purchase reusable containers in-store (glass jars of various sizes and cardboard containers), or may bring their own reusable containers from home to package their items of desire. Filled containers get weighed at check-out and the weight of the container is simply subtracted from the total cost. Goods sold are offered at market price to customers, to encourage support of local growers given all that Salt Spring Island has to offer both its locals and visitors.
In addition, Green partner’s with the local food bank, when food inventory is on the verge of spoiling, to avoid inventory going to waste.
My impression upon walking into Green was that of curiosity and intrigue. While not a large space, it didn’t need to be. It was exceptionally clean and aesthetically pleasing; a complete different shopping experience! Beyond the bulk food area and produce area, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful selection of homemade soaps, as well as homemade cleaners in dispensers that you could purchase volumes of as needed, using the re-sealable glass jars available. I also couldn’t help but notice the availability of Abeego’s beeswax food storage sheets, that act as substitutes for plastic wrap and aluminum foil. You may view my blog post about this Canadian company here.
I commend this business for modelling to its community a low-impact, ethical, ecological and sustainable way of grocery shopping and living. I can imagine that several obstacles were face, and continue to be faced, in working to revolutionize this industry. In my mind, there’s not a more suitable place than the spectacular setting that is Salt Spring Island. Given it's reputation as being a progressive community greatly in tune with the environment and food security, I sincerely hope this business thrives for years to come!
As shown in the photograph above, a nut/seed grinder grinds fresh nut/seed butter for customers; the nut/seed is changed weekly to provide variety for shoppers.
Above: Glass jars of various sizes are available for purchase by customers, for those who choose not to bring in their own reusable containers for shopping purchases.
Above: handmade soaps and liquid cleaners from a dispenser.