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in.gredients Pantry

in.gredients - a zero waste, local and sustainable grocery store - expands its impact through package-free office snacks in Austin, Texas.

Photo of Grayson

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in.gredients is a one-of-a-kind neighborhood grocery and beer garden located in Austin, TX. Over the last five years of doing business, we've established ourselves as a cornerstone of the community, leading by example in zero waste, local sourcing and civic engagement.

Our unique selling point that we are working on refining is our package-free office snacks program, in.gredients Pantry.  We already have a pilot program with our sister company (a software consulting firm), and we have been interested for a long time in expanding this to other tech firms and the like, which are omnipresent in Austin.

The three pillars of the ethos that define who we are and what we do are zero waste, local food and community engagement. As a triple bottom line business, we approach each of these areas with a holistic understanding of our impact on others (people), the environment (planet) and our own financial sustainability (profit). 

We've honed in on a business model that results in sending a mere 5-8 pounds of trash to the landfill in an average month. Compared to the average American's statistical 5-6 pounds of trash sent to the landfill per day, we're very proud of what we've accomplished. As daunting as it may sound, our small footprint ultimately comes down to a daily practice of sorting and allocating our "unusables" to their next highest use. We encourage our vendors to deliver their products in reusable containers and return the empties in exchange, offer compostable or recyclable containers for in-house prepared foods, incorporate our spent coffee grounds into our garden soil, donate mushy or bruised produce to a local petting zoo and compost the moldy stuff.

We have many bulk offerings, from snacks and candy to spices & grains.  We incentivize and encourage packaging reuse with our unique tare station and "Bring Your Own Container" nonprofit donation programming.  The cornerstone of our BYOC incentive program is our non-profit community partnership. Every six months, we ask our customers to help us choose a different Austin non-profit to support for a period of six months, during which time we donate 5 cents every time a customer reuses a container. Additionally, we donate a portion of every first Friday's sales, and help promote their mission and enhance their network at our First Friday Block Parties.

We have diverted upwards of 8 tons of material from the waste stream since we opened, with more than 34,000 containers reused by our customers. We've sent zero pounds of food waste to the landfill since day one.

We're committed to doing everything we can to build a more robust and resilient local food system. We support dozens of local farmers and ranchers who eschew the use of harmful petro-chemicals in their growing practices and embrace the methods of organic and sustainable agriculture. We prioritize and support small-scale makers, and we have helped many get their start and go on to very successful operations.

Our diligence allows us to put upwards of 70% of our customers' dollars into the local economy, compared to a mere 13% at box stores and 47% at an average locally owned businesses.

In addition to selling groceries, we are a local beer garden.  We even have a garden next to our seating area where Farmer Sue grows produce that we sell in the store! You can literally drink a local brew, observe what produce is in season in the garden, then go home and eat dinner made from produce from that same garden.

When you visit in.gredients, you are likely to stumble upon a gardening workshop, cooking class, DIY product demo, exercise in civic engagement or perhaps a square dance. Some say we have the best porch in town. 

Doing business in a community-centered and earth-forward manner means that making a profit has always been a challenge.  With a big boost, we could make the changes necessary to ultimately become more profitable, expand our reach and make a bigger impact.

Idea Title

in.gredients Pantry

Company / Organization Name

in.gredients

Website

in.gredients.com

Where are you / your team located?

Austin, Texas

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

By offering an extensive bulk section with a tare station that allows customers to refill their own containers, consumers can minimize their personal waste. We also do everything we can on the back end to keep our own waste to a minimum by sourcing products with compostable, recyclable or reusable packaging, then responsibly sorting and, when possible, upcycling all of our waste so as little as possible goes to the landfill.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Our idea applies to all three use cases. Since our bulk section has a tare station, people can purchase as much or as little of bulk items as they like, in their own small container or one of our compostable ones. Bottle caps and tear offs can be avoided by buying products in reusable containers, including growlers for draft beverages, which we offer for beer, wine, soda, kombucha and coffee. We sell metal straws, but we also serve compostable straws and coffee lids to the average customer.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

We plan to continue to operate in Austin, Texas, and hopefully expand our operations there in the future. Austin has a goal of zero waste by 2040, and we hope to help this city achieve it.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

We will expand our pilot program, in.gredients Pantry, to serve more Austin offices. They subscribe to receive weekly deliveries of fresh, package-free snacks and beverages to enjoy in reusable cups and bowls. The culture of convenience promotes the trend of Keurig K-cups for coffee and single-serving snacks in packaging destined for landfills, but we can offer value through a convenient, streamlined office snacks program with easy, web-based ordering and wholesome, locally crafted goods.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Full-scale roll-out: You have developed a pilot, tested, and analyzed the impact of that pilot as it pertains to the problem scope. You are ready to expand the pilot significantly and begin to scale.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

We first opened as a package free and zero waste grocers, but we have had to put package free on the back burner, as only a few early adopters were bringing their own containers and buying groceries with us that way. With your financial support and mentorship, we could more fully develop the in.gredients Pantry, which will increase our reach and help support all of our package-free efforts while helping to prevent small-format snack packaging from winding up in landfills.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

The owners of the Brothers Lane software company wanted to make an investment that would leave a positive mark on the world, so they opened in.gredients. These days they are mostly hands-off, and the business is run by a group of passionate managers and employees.

Tell us about your work experience

Personally, I've worked in food service, customer service, furniture repair, theatre and film. While I have always been inspired by environmentalism, this is my first foray into its business side.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Limited Partnership

Please describe, in detail, your business model and how you intend to test and iterate this model.

Please outline how your design, material, and delivery choices will influence price, and how you intend to address the price increase that may result from this solution.

Please explain how your solution will impact user behavior, and what design considerations you've included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions with your Idea. 

10 comments

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Comment
Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Grayson!

As Refinement Phase quickly comes to a close in LESS THAN 8 HOURS, I want to remind you that the following must be submitted by tonight, August 31st at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

1. Submit the Refinement Questions Form online that was sent again via email yesterday evening--we have not yet received this from you. These questions are mandatory for Top Ideas consideration, so this should be your first priority in the final stretch.

2. A secondary priority, which is optional, is to update your Refinement Phase post. I see you've already updated your concept on the platform. But please share any additional information, photos, and documentation of your progress throughout this Phase!

Looking forward to reviewing and celebrating the amazing work you've achieved this Refinement Phase!

Spam
Photo of Grayson
Team

Thanks so much, we're just finishing up now :)

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Grayson!

Thank you! You should receive a confirmation email once you have submitted the typeform Refinement Questions Submission Form. If you do not for whatever reason, please feel free to email circulardesignchallenge@ideo.com.


Thank you!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Grayson!

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

If there is key information in the comments on your idea submission, I recommend that you move them to the main body of your idea submission before the cut-off time.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Darren Yeo
Team

This is great! Wish i had such a store in my neighbourhood ;) wondering what is competition like in the community. Are there competing businesses, and if so, how did you manage to convince?

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Grayson!

Welcome to refinement phase!

It would be good if you would highlight in a bit more detail how this solution addresses the issue of small format plastic packaging.

How do you get local suppliers on board? Are any concerned about product branding and the identification of the products in store as being sourced/supplied by themselves?

What is the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your business compared to other packaging-free supermarkets? How could you scale?

There are two ideas from previous OpenIDEO Challenge that I think might interest you

Cobuy - Group buying software that helps people buy good food at good prices, together. - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/top-ideas/cobuy-group-buying-software-that-helps-people-buy-good-food-at-good-prices-together - really highlights their USP.

UnBroke - UnBroke creates a new marketplace by negotiating down tuition costs and helping the majority of colleges fill seats - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/impact/unbroke - is an extremely developed submission. However, it has a really well articulated business model that might be a source of inspiration.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me by tagging me here (@ followed by my name) or send me an email - krushton@ideo.com

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Michael Greene
Team

Hi Grayson
I have been watching you from afar and feel somewhat sad that the locals have not taken up the charge toward the world of unpackaged. I read that the prepared foods has taken off and that is align with what is happening in the grocery industry in North America.

I would love to hear more about what the consumers and customers were looking for and why there was a fade in consumer take up. I know from other markets that there is an opportunity for success.

Michael

Spam
Photo of Tamar
Team

Love what you are doing! We should talk.

Spam
Photo of Grayson
Team

Hey there, thanks so much! I like the look of your waste-free wrap, we sell something similar at our store.

Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Grayson 

The Ideas Phase of the challenge closes TONIGHT at 11:30 p.m. PT. Your post is currently unpublished, in draft mode. In order to be eligible for evaluation, your post must be published on the platform.

We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. Thanks!