Brooklyn’s First Packaging-Free Grocery Store Will Open in Bushwick

Located on Starr Street, a 5-minute walk from the Jefferson L stop, Precycle is harnessing the value of buying in bulk.

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“If consumers can be encouraged to make ‘no-plastic packages’ a regular choice, half of the battle is won. This is what Precycle aspires to do,” says Precycle founder Katerina Bogatireva.

Editor’s note: We’re chronicling how tech is changing the way we eat and drink as we lead up to this fall’s Food Loves Tech. Our annual deep dive into appropriate food and ag technologies returns to Industry City on November 2–3, 2018—stay tuned for updates and use the code FLT30 to get 30% off tickets at checkout.

The struggle to cut waste out of grocery shopping is real. Even if you bring reusable bags and bulk containers to the store, it’s nearly impossible to not end up with some amount of container waste when you get home. A new organic grocery store set to open in Bushwick at the end of November wants to change that.

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There’ll be fresh produce, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, flours, pasta and more sold in bulk, fresh breads and bakery items from L’imprimerie and even a variety of household and beauty products sold in refillable format.

Located on Starr Street, a 5-minute walk from the Jefferson L stop, Precycle is set to be the first packaging-free grocery store in Brooklyn. Think of it as part farmers market, part old-school bulk purchasing like you might see at a co-op or specialty grocery chain. The store is sourcing food from farmers throughout the Northeast region and says food will not travel more than 250 miles before reaching store shelves. There’ll be fresh produce, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, flours, pasta and more sold in bulk, fresh breads and bakery items from L’imprimerie and even a variety of household and beauty products sold in refillable format.

“The demand for new plastic production, and plastic waste that finds its way into our environment is largely influenced by the constant use of plastic in our daily lives. So if consumers can be encouraged to make ‘no-plastic packages’ a regular choice, half of the battle is won. This is what Precycle aspires to do,” says Precycle founder Katerina Bogatireva.

Growing up in Riga, Latvia, plastic wasn’t easily available and Bogatireva would bring jars to the market to fill with food including things such as sour cream. After moving to New York, Bogatireva quickly adapted to the easy disposal culture but also became concerned about the amount of plastic she used. She challenged herself to find solutions to avoid as much waste as possible, slowly replacing disposable items with reusable materials and forming the idea for a packaging-free grocery store back in 2015.

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Almost all items will be sold by weight and the store will offer a selection of jars, reusable cotton bags and recycled paper bags for container shopping.

Precycle also aims to help reduce food waste as the bulk shopping method means customers can buy exactly the amount of any given item they need. Almost all items will be sold by weight and the store will offer a selection of jars, reusable cotton bags and recycled paper bags for container shopping. Of course customers can bring their own containers, too. The store will weigh your containers before you shop and then after you fill the container with a product, so a customer only pays for the amount they buy.

As Precycle grows, Bogatireva and the team hopes to expand the store’s package-free items. They’re currently researching both bulk dog and cat food suppliers. Eventually, they hope to open up Precycle stores in additional neighborhoods.

Photos courtesy of Precycle.

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Bridget is the digital strategy editor for Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Long Island and Edible East End.