Zero Grocery Is the Sustainable Online Supermarket That Aims to Make Your Life Less Plastic
A few years ago, Zuleyka Strasner and her husband went on their honeymoon to the Corn Islands, a remote archipelago off the coast of Nicaragua. She was struck by their beauty, but also saddened—in several spots on pristine white beaches, she saw piles of plastic water bottles. So Strasner did something simple to fix it: She spent much of the week picking them up.
“It really changed my life,” she says. “After that, I knew wanted to live more environmentally conscious.”
When the couple got back to San Francisco, Strasner embarked on a zero-waste lifestyle. “I wanted to try and see what happens if a regular, working woman adopted this lifestyle,” she says. She got rid of all the plastic packaging in their kitchen, as well put a household ban on single-use plastics. She started studying American supply-chains—how food was transported, how it was produced. And then she got an idea: What happens if we try to create a less wasteful food system?
Enter Zero Grocery. Founded by Strasner in 2018, it’s America’s first plastic-free online grocery—and aims to make it easier for everyone to live a sustainable life. It has all the staples a regular store would have (eggs, milk, dairy, they’re all there) and then some: think artisanal bottled coffees, vegan cookie dough, organic baby food, and gourmet cheeses from local farms, just to name a few. “It’s a mix of products you are familiar with as well as products you can discover,” she says.
Originally just in Bay area, today it launches in Los Angeles with hundreds of items—including local favorites. Soon, that number will be up to 3,000.
Here’s how it works: first (and obviously) you shop online. From there, Zero delivers your food in eco-friendly totes. Food is packaged in reusable glass jars, or in compostable containers. Upon your next order, Zero will pick up all their supplies and bring them back to their warehouse—completing the closed loop system. Essentially: “We’re like a modern day milk man,” explains Strasner.
Sounds easy? That’s the point: “I know what’s like to be stretched and trying to work to be better about sustainability,” she says. “I wanted to create this community where you don’t need to worry about how to participate.”
They’re not just helping consumers, but companies. If a brand wants to develop plastic free packaging, but doesn’t know where to start, Zero Grocery will design (and sell) it for you.
Zero’s expansion comes at a complicated time for the green movement in grocery stores particularly. Before the pandemic, supermarkets advocated for customers to bring their own totes. Then amid the fear of transmission, they were begging you not to. Meanwhile, online grocery sales—with all their single-use materials—increased five-fold. Safety trumped sustainability. “I was told personally at the beginning of the pandemic that folks were not going to want our service,” says Strasner.
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