It started with a book

It all started with a book that my mother gave me for Christmas: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson.

I read the book in one sitting, fascinated by this family of four who managed to reduce their waste to a jar per year! The lifestyle Bea was advocating for made a lot of sense to me and I was inspired to embark on my own zero waste journey.

Part of adopting a zero waste lifestyle was to change the way I was doing my groceries and move away from single-use packaging. To avoid single-use I found a number of bulk stores where I could fill up my own containers. But there was no ONE store where I could find all my packaging-free groceries. I had to visit 4-6 stores on my grocery run, which was way too time-consuming.

The idea takes shape

I started imagining a zero waste grocery store where I could find everything I needed, and which would be specifically designed for zero waste shopping. After doing some research, I decided to open such a store in Ottawa.

Sia comes on board

For a year I had been working on NU without knowing that at the same time, someone else was working on a similar project. It was Sia. Ottawa is not a big city and yet, our paths had never crossed until Bea Johnson connected us! We met for coffee and liked each other instantly. Instead of competing, we decided to join forces and started to work together on turning the NU vision into reality.

I had already found the Wellington street location and was supervising renos while Sia was focused on sourcing the right products for our store... and the million other tasks that come with business creation.

After months of hard work, NU Wellington opened its doors officially on August 19, 2017!

A second store

NU Wellington was doing well, so in 2018, we started thinking about opening a second location. We found a great space on Main Street in Old Ottawa East, and got to work! In October of 2019, we opened NU Main. Our second location is slightly bigger, which allows us to offer an even wider range of unpackaged products.

In addition to being a grocery store, NU is a platform to educate and raise awareness about waste. Our mission is to eliminate waste and reinvent consumption! We offer regular free workshops on waste-related topics and share resources and tips on our social media. We have also given many talks in schools, universities, government agencies and at public events on the topic of zero waste and responsible consumerism.

So come and visit our stores, follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @nugrocery) or subscribe to our NUsletter to stay up to date on all things NU!

Valerie, Co-founder and CEO