By Austin Taylor
Waste is a problem. Around the world, beaches are dotted with beer cans and landfills grow to the size of small towns; there is even an entire island of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean. It seems to be everywhere. There is, however, a place where waste is not. On the corner of East Broadway and Fraser stands Nada, Canada’s very first package-free grocery store.
Whether it’s vegan butter, fresh produce, cricket-protein bars, or four different kinds of miso paste, at Nada you can check off the boxes on even the most eclectic grocery lists. The store uses a unique system that accounts for the weight of its customers’ containers by way of encoded stickers, solving the problem of time and inconvenience that most waste-free businesses face. For those that forgot their mason jars at home, there is a plethora of reusable containers for purchase and a selection of clean, free containers that have been donated to the cause. Nada appears to have parried all the qualms of the skeptical before they make them. The thoughtfulness of the business plan is the work of inspired leadership.
For founder and CEO Brianne Miller, Nada is much more than just a business. Working in the field of marine biology for almost a decade (a job that brought her all around the world), the idea for a waste-free grocery store came to her after seeing the impact of careless waste first hand.
“It became very apparent very quickly just how widespread the plastic pollution problem is,” says Miller. “I was making connections between these environmental problems and our food systems.”
Teaming up with co-founder Alison Carr, they began their initiative as a pop-up shop based out of Patagonia’s Kitsilano store in 2013. After years of fundraising and organizing, Nada finally came to fruition, a fully waste-free grocery store and cafe that sources their wares from local businesses and food artisans.
Though Nada’s tag line is “Just Food,” they are quickly proving that it’s much more than just food. They’re a chance break the mold and inspire change in a world that needs it.green, nada grocery