It all started with a book that my mother gave me for Christmas: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson.
I had never heard of Bea Johnson, nor was I aware of the existence of a zero waste movement. I read the book in one day. Clearly, it struck a chord! The lifestyle Bea was advocating for and her many useful tips made a lot of sense to me. I was inspired to embark on my own zero waste journey.
As I was transitioning to a life without waste, various alarming headlines also caught my attention. I remember this study released at the world economic forum in Davos, warning that by 2050, there would be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. A month later, I read about the thirteen whales that were found stranded on a German beach, with stomachs full of plastic waste. These disturbing stories only strengthened my resolve.
Part of adopting a zero waste lifestyle was to change the way I did my grocery shopping. Following Bea’s advice, I decided to stay away from single-use packaging and find bulk stores where I would fill up my own containers. I live in Ottawa, and I was able to find a number of stores offering products in bulk. But there was no one store where I could find all my packaging-free groceries, and I had to visit 4 to 6 stores on my grocery run to get the products I needed. It was just too time-consuming.
I started imagining a zero waste grocery store where I could find everything that I needed, and which would be specially designed for zero waste shopping. After doing some research, I discovered that stores like this already existed. They had been opening all over Europe in the last 2-3 years and were thriving! I also learned that similar projects were underway in Montreal and Vancouver. So I decided to open a zero waste grocery store in Ottawa.
As I shared my idea with friends and family, we all became increasingly excited about this project, and convinced that the time was right. While I was working on a formal business plan, I had many helpers who offered their time, advice, talent and invested their money! I couldn’t have done half of it without them.
NU wants to offer an alternative to the wasteful mass consumption that puts a strain on our planet. Our products are packaging-free, but they are also all-natural and, whenever possible, organic and local. We also want to create a unique shopping experience in a store that is modern and uncluttered. Contemporary and welcoming, our store will make it easy for our customers to live the zero waste life!
We found our dream space and are opening this summer at 1130 Wellington Street West in Ottawa’s dynamic Hintonburg neighbourhood. We can’t wait to welcome you there!
Valerie and the NU team