Paper or Plastic? Try Neither

Is a waste-free grocery store possible?

Just ask Brothers Lane, LLC. UT alumni Christian Lane, BBA ’99, and Joseph Lane, BBA ’04, along with their brother Patrick, opened in.gredients, a grocery store devoted to zero waste, package-free products, and local food in East Austin last week. It is the first store of its kind in the country.

In.gredients has been the subject of massive media hype since the brothers announced their business plan last summer. From Rolling Stone to the New York Times to ABC News, the press buzz has been substantial. Now that the doors are finally open, Austin customers will get to decide whether going package-free is a passing fad or a permanent lifestyle choice.

With more than 400 products in just 1300 square feet, the store encourages customers to bring their own containers—from jars to bags (the store has some, just in case)—and purchase as little or as much as they like. Empty containers are weighed, filled, and weighed again at the cash register.

The store’s walls are lined with dispensers, some for dried goods like cereal, and others for liquids, like olive oil and even cleaning products. Fresh, local, in-season produce is available, as well as dairy, including milk—one of the store’s only packaged goods.

Christian says the brothers have always had a passion for sustainability.

“Originally we wanted to open a beer and wine refill store, targeting the energy we waste turning beer and wine bottles into beer and wine bottles via recycling, and how much glass that’s recycled isn’t actually reused,” Christian says. “That’s when in.gredients’ ‘precycling’ mantra was really born—reduce, reuse, then recycle.”

The store’s local suppliers use reusable containers to deliver food. Out-of-town suppliers ship products in recyclable or compostable packaging that can be accepted by the store’s recycling and composting service provider, Break it Down Austin.

“Customers have responded very well to the in.gredients shopping model,” Christian says. “We’ve removed a lot of marketing from the grocery store and simplified shopping for people—and they like it.”

The in.gredients team. Photo by Patrick Lane Photography.


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