Q&A with Gram, a Zero Waste Store

Written by Kajsa IngelssonOctober 22, 2017

Plastic sucks. Artificial ingredients and palm oil sucks as well. I think we are all agreeing on that, and if you are not, go have a walk at your nearest coastline or street and tell me what you see. So why is so damn hard to find food that are aligned with our plastic-free green views? Well, it won’t be for much longer if Gram has something to say about it. We had a quick chat with the creator of this cute store, Rowan Drury, to pick her brain a bit about the idea behind the business and the emerging zero waste movement.

What products do you sell at Gram?

See our website product page for full list – there are around 200 products ranging from beans, rice, flour, nuts, muesli, oils and vinegars to spices, candies, superfoods, household products and products to help you be more zero waste. (your writer is personally obsessed with their to go coffee cups!)

Describe your Zero Waste Mission.

It started as a personal mission to create less waste in my everyday life, I changed my buying habits, bought less, bought secondhand, borrowed instead of buying, etc. But when it came to food it was hard to make a choice. So I looked into the zero waste shop model in other countries. And voila, Gram was born. In Sweden, household trash amounts to c. 466 kgs per person per year. In a world where temperatures are rising, and our oceans and landscapes are filled with plastic debris, each of us can take small steps to be kinder to the planet and leave a lighter footprint. By buying your groceries without unnecessary packaging you can take one of those small steps. The idea of zero waste is to create as little trash as possible, we call it the 5 R’: refuse, reduce, reuse (+repair), recycle and rot.

What are some good things a non waste grocery store does for the environment?

We help people reduce the trash they create, we cut out packaging at the consumer level, which is a huge saving of resources. It’s all about making the solution cost-effective and accessible.

How do you develop a relationship with suppliers?

I work with many local suppliers, which is great as I can talk directly to them about how they pack the products and even use reusable packaging for delivery which is the case with honey, sweets and haloumi cheese.

Do you believe there can be more done to improve the packaging material in grocery stores?

Normal supermarkets should have a bulk section so everyone has the choice to buy package-free. There also needs to be government level legislation of over packaging of vegetables (e.g two avocados in a hard plastic case, wrapped in a thin plastic cover)

How can those who don’t have access to fully sustainable grocery stores contribute to buying less packaged goods?

Once you open your eyes to package-free you see it everywhere shop at vegetable markets in your own cloth bags, seek out shops that sell in bulk (Asien stores, loose tea shops, etc). Choose paper and metal over plastic.

Are prices and cost amounts affected by buying out of reusable containers?

Our prices are similar, and often less than, other good organic brands.

Do customers appreciate the process of buying at your grocery store? What do people have to say about your mission?

Yes, we have many regulars now. It takes some time to get into the habit of shopping package free, but like most things, once you are used to it it’s quite simple.

How do you plan to expand the message Gram is trying to spread?

I do lots of talks and workshops about living zero waste at universities, festivals, businesses, etc.

Where in Sweden is Gram located? Are there any plans to open more stores locally? Internationally?

Malmö, S:t Knut – a young, trendy area of town. I would also like to open more store with a franchising system.