Intending to limit the environmental impact of packaging, a local family opened Proprietary in June 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At 620 Wealthy St. SE, Proprietary is the first exclusive dry bulk food store in Grand Rapids.
Bulk food stores offer alternatives to typical grocery stores that carry items packaged in large amounts of plastic that will ultimately become waste. There has been a steady rise in the popularity of the “zero-waste movement” in which people combat the growing issue of pollution created by excess waste.
“Zero-waste by definition is a set of principles focused on waste prevention. At our store, we encourage people to bring in their jars to fill with our products,” said Elizabeth Diasparra, who co-owns the store along with her husband Michael. “When you remove all unnecessary packaging of products, we can drastically reduce waste.”
“Making a small change in the way you shop will make a huge environmental impact overall.”
There are numerous benefits to buying in bulk in addition to environmental concerns, including cost-effectiveness.
“When you buy in bulk you are not paying for the packaging that is put on items and you can buy as much or as little as you need,” Diasparra said. “You also reduce the carbon footprint that the manufacturers make to produce the extra packaging.”
Proprietary offers a large range of everyday items and pantry staples including flours, sugars and oats, as well as harder-to-find items such as mung beans and nutritional yeast. But buying in bulk does not just apply to food items.
“We also have a refill station with Castile soap, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner. If you are in need of more sustainable household items, we carry our favorite weck jars, cleaning tools and a full line of No Tox personal care items,” Diasparra said.
Although switching to buying in bulk may feel daunting, Proprietary has some advice for those new to the process.
“Our recommendation is to check what you need first. Make sure you have cleaned your jars, then come on in to fill them. Making a small change in the way you shop will make a huge environmental impact overall,” Diasparra said.
This story can be found in the February 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here.