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Gator and Crane's #WasteLess Market

Gator and Crane's #WasteLess market is a zero-waste grocery and recycling center hybrid that incentivizes sustainable consumer behaviors.

Photo of Emily Gaddis

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Our namesake, Gator and Crane,  is a tribute to the connection we consumers have to our local foodsheds and watersheds. The American Alligator nearly went extinct until we farmed 'em to eat 'em. Gator and Crane is the shared vision of over 600 locals in New Orleans who participated in longitudinal market research from 2013-2016. Why do consumers waste food? Often, it's because food is pre-packaged in standard sizes, leftovers are tossed, and shoppers don't plan their meals. Food waste, single-use packaging, and supply chain bottlenecks, make the modern lifestyle resource intensive, expensive and nutrient deficient. The majority of households are now single or 2-person, so there is less time for food procurement and preparation. Gator and Crane's #WasteLess Market is on a mission to eliminate food waste by designing it out of the grocery store and offering a solution for disposal of all food waste on-site. Our concept lowers the likelihood of consumer food waste by selling mostly bulk goods at prices that are typically 25-40% lower than branded, pre-packaged products.We also sell several types of specialized  food packaging that extends the shelf life of food. Our free, zero waste shopping lists, recipes and meal planning content have the potential to eliminate food waste, save the average customer $500-$3,000/year, 156 hours, and increase healthy meals by 66% on average. Shoppers of #WasteLess Market earn up to $550 in store credit annually for sustainable behaviors like refilling a spice jar or using a cloth bag to package rice and dropping off inedible food waste to our community compost. With a recycling drop off center in the store, #WasteLess Market can offer a zero-waste solution to end food waste for its shoppers through a circular economy model at the local level.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Gator and Crane is the shared vision of over 600 locals in New Orleans who participated in longitudinal market Our team has piloted this concept at farmers markets and events. We have over 150 users of our zero-waste meal plan and shopping list. We have a partnership with a local wine store to set up a retail version in an historic corner store sized venue. We have partnerships with recyclers and farmers to responsibly take charge of our supply chain from source to zero-waste recycling.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We need assistance with technical challenges like label printing and price computing scales, label printing, marketing to different segments and behind the scenes operations. We're looking for remote participants who can provide tips though a live chat function on our website to give home cooks ideas about how to #WasteLess of their leftovers, ingredients and offer support as consumers work to reduce food waste. The human interaction is important. Food is culture. Join us to #WasteLess!

Tell us about your work experience:

Emily recently moderated a plenary on Food Waste at F2TE 2016. Her team completed Cleantech Open and Propeller accelerator. She is a Delta Entrepreneurship and Starting Bloc fellow. She won three pitch contests in 16 months to raise a portion of seed funding in addition to winning free office space and a year of free legal counsel and a promo video from Cox Cable. Gator and Crane's #WasteLess Market advisors are from Waste Management, Buckminster Fuller Institute, No Waste NOLA and NOCHI.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s on the ground creating impact – it’s existed for over 1 year

11 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
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Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Emily! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 09/28" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Emily, we updated the link to the Refinement Toolkit. Please use this new link instead: https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/bda1f109-0466-4f8e-9699-1359e406df56.pdf

Photo of Amber Matthews
Team

Where in NOLA are you? Do you have a lot of tourists in your store? I'm wondering because their behaviors would be different than locals.

Photo of Emily Gaddis
Team

Hi Amber, 

Thanks so much for the feedback and questions. Do you have some experience in NOLA?  WE are looking for team members if you're interested? We're in the Touro/Lower Garden. The area does not have many tourists. We are a neighborhood store with about 700 regular customers. You make a good point about behavior. Would you elaborate? What insights do you have regarding locals vs. tourists behavior. You got me curious! I can speak to how locals vs. tourists shop at our partner store (Spirit Wine) where our #WasteLess market is scheduled to open 11/15 on America Recycles Day. 

Photo of Amber Matthews
Team

Haha, I've only visited NOLA once, I'm on the west coast.
If they're mostly tourists, you'll have to influence their behavior. If they're regulars, you'll have to influence their habits.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Emily! Congratulations on being one of the forty ideas in the refinement phase. 

Would you be able to provide further clarification on this - 'We also sell several types of specialized food packaging that extends the shelf life of food'?

Photo of Emily Gaddis
Team

Absolutely! This is one aspect of #WasteLess Market that we are particularly excited about. There are great companies producing reusable and compostable food packaging that can extend the life and/or quality of food. We use this packaging exclusively. The goal is to aggregate packaging in combination with storage suggestions to drastically reduce food waste and compost what can't be eaten. By offering these optimal packaging solutions, it creates convenience for the consumer. The companies whose products we offer are Fenugreen (fresh paper) and Miron glass.  We also package foods in the packaging that is ideal for them. For example, cheese does best in paper. It molds much faster in plastic. We've tested these products in combination. They really work and our test subjects really like the design. 

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Emily!

Thank you for sharing #WasteLessMarket (www.gatorandcrane.com/) with us. 

Is your solution for both online and offline shopping? Will it work as a subscription service where customers pay a fee for the food for meal plans and earn additional credits for good food behaviour e.g. bringing food to the compost bins etc.? 

Photo of Emily Gaddis
Team

Hi Kate: 

Thanks so much for your interest and feedback.  Good questions. The solution is starting out as order online and pick up on the weekends. We will order extra non-perishables for shoppers that walk into the market so easy meals ca be made out of shelf-stable ingredients. We don't stock any perishables that haven't been ordered in advance.  It's not a subscription service exactly. Each week we order about 100-200 items for the next pick up to rotate ingredients, ensure freshness and keep the product selection interesting. All our products "feed into" the meal plans and shopping lists we create for customers on our website. In the product mix, we highlight good food choices with standard labels. Customers get $.10 in credit per packaging items. They also get $.25 per lb. of compost they return to the store. I think I missed adding that in the entry. Thanks for asking. I'll go back and add that! 

Photo of Evelyn Ihrke
Team

Emily:
I’ve been connecting with Zero Waste people via Twitter in France, the US, and England, etc.. It seems like everyone involved has to think and rethink the start of each store individually. It’s very labor intensive- but worse, there are redundant things that add up to incredible amounts of duplicated time. Can this be a Franchise Market? Could it be based on a Sharing Economy where perhaps one franchisee contributes Marketing skills, and one contributes Logistics, another Legal, etc? The model might work best in a regional setting at first… Maybe ten partners in the hub sprouting up together?
It seems also that the co-op model- which is fantastically exemplified in Buffalo, NY with Lexington Food Co-op- would be the perfect place to develop the new sprouts. There is already a community based on sharing some hours, recipes, meetings, etc.. Zero Waste concepts would be a half step up from Co-ops, but half a mile from most prepackaged, processed food retailers.
Best,
Evelyn

Photo of Emily Gaddis
Team

Hi Evelyn:

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. A buying consortium for all the existing zero waste markets interesting in collaborating would be useful. Perhaps, we should talk offline about the conversations you've had with the zero waste folks around the world. I've had similar conversations. The issues you raise are important; we are aware of them.

1. Model:  Our intention is to franchise the #WasteLess market model.  We are currently looking for ways to crowdsource contributions for other skills. Our model is slated to start as a hyper-regional market, hence the name Gator and Crane for the port city of New Orleans in the Gulf Coast.  Many of the existing markets you reference provided important data during our research face for developing this market model. Park Slop co-op, Rainbow Coop, Ingredients, The Source Bulk Foods, Effecorta, etc.

2. What is "Zero Waste Concepts" is that the name of a community that is meeting? We plan to offer that kind of meet up as educational events at our store(s).  

3. Systems/Time: We've built everything already. We just need a minimal cash infusion to purchase bulk bins and other start up costs. Again, we see the barriers/challenges of this type of model. We are building a "formula" with the key systems of supply chain, finance, IT, and HR to make the model scalable and replicable.

4. Competitive Advantage: Our issue with existing models is packaging: the amount of plastic in the ocean alone will surpass the amount of fish by 2050. As a resident of the coastal city of New Orleans, I can't endorse models that exacerbate the existing problems. There are "die hard" zero-wasters that will bring a bunch of glass jars and/or cloth bags to market, but they are a tiny fraction of the market. What happens if you forget? What about the weight of all that glass? Consider the 83-year old with a neck injury who couldn't lift the extra weight. Gator and Crane's #WasteLess Market would be the first grocery, to the best of my knowledge, to offer a packaging solution that is accessible to the mainstream population. I can speak to the technical details of our packaging solution of that interests you.

                              Our interest is shifting the design of the grocery model entirely.