Package-free grocery store

- New York City’s first package-free grocery store has opened in Bushwick.

Katerina Bogatireva has spent the last three years working to get it open.

The idea behind precycle is to help customers eliminate their trash that’s associated with the food packaging,” she said. “Not just food, but household items and beauty products.”

Almost everything at Precycle is sourced from the Northeast and sold in bulk. Customers bring their own clean containers, and can fill up on everything from beans to canola oil to detergent and spices.

There are paper bags available and glass jars for sale for those who come unprepared.

The package free store is not a new concept. There are similar stores all over Europe, including in Bogatireva’s home country, Latvia. But the idea has taken a little longer to take off here, though now that it has, demand is there.

“People come from all over New York City, from as far as from The Bronx, Harlem, the Upper East Side, Midtown, Staten Island,” she said. The store has only been open a week. “It surprises me and it validates the idea that people want to reduce their waste at home.”

Bogatireva says another advantage of shopping package-free is you only have to buy what you need, whether that’s two teaspoons of cinnamon or two servings of pasta. She even plans to offer customer free sprigs of herbs. After all, when was the last time you bought a whole package of basil and used the whole thing?

Precycle also sells items to help people reduce waste, everything from reusable straws and food wraps, to refillable glass dental floss containers. The few items that do come in some form of sustainable packaging are thoroughly vetted.

“All the suppliers that I work with, I ask about every single product: how are you going to deliver it to me? And if it’s not acceptable then I just choose a different supplier,” she said.

Soon Precycle will add more fresh produce options, as well as dairy products and more cleaning supplies. Ultimately, Bogatireva says her goal is to open Precycle stores all across the city.

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