Glass jars and paper bags: Shopping for food without the plastic

Every week on The Primer we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to James Denton, owner of  Auckland’s plastic-free supermarkets GoodFor.

ONE: How did GoodFor start and what was the inspiration behind it? 

GoodFor started out of frustration with the amount of plastic I was consuming and the sheer difficulty to actually reduce that consumption due to the lack of alternative options. After coming across similar zero waste retail concepts overseas, I thought New Zealand was in need of a really special store that made plastic-free shopping trendy and easy!

TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting GoodFor? 

I started three businesses prior to GoodFor, so I had a pretty good handle on what it took to create a successful business.

THREE: What sort of shopping and consumer habits is GoodFor trying to encourage among customers? 

We’re trying to make shopping with reusable containers such as glass jars and Tupperware really easy and fun. It’s a very therapeutic exercise shopping in our stores and refilling your own containers. You feel good about yourself knowing that you’re not creating waste that’ll last for thousands of years. People need to understand that consuming plastic is no longer an option if we want our world to be as beautiful as it is today in 20 years’ time.

GoodFor currently has two stores open in Ponsonby and Parnell (photo: Facebook/GoodFor)

FOUR: What can customers use to store their goods? Is there anything in-store that can be used if customers forget to bring a container? 

Customers can bring in any container they choose. We weigh their container first and then deduct that weight off at the checkout. We provide paper bags that customers can use in the event they don’t bring their containers, and we also sell jars, bags and bottles if they want to expand their collection.

FIVE: What kind of price point can customers expect at GoodFor? Would you say products are more expensive/premium compared to your regular supermarket?

Our stores are 90% organic and naturally, organic products are more expensive at this stage. However, when it comes to like-for-like products, we’re actually a lot cheaper. If you shop smart at GoodFor, you will be surprised at how much money you can save.

SIX: What do you think about the recent move by businesses to reduce plastic waste by 2025? What else you’d like to see done to further achieve this goal? 

Any reduction in plastic is great, but unfortunately, reducing means not doing a lot! All we can do is expand our footprint and try to entice more and more people to shop in stores like ours as this will actually make a big difference.

L-R: Raw plant-based chocolate, sunflower oil on tap, Berry & Cacao Buckini’s cereal (Photos: Facebook/Goodfor)

SEVEN: Do you have any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they? 

We have two more stores opening in Auckland in the next three months and three more planned throughout the country in the next eight months. If they’re still working by then, we’ll open plenty more. It’s exciting to see how many people are making a real effort to get their pantry packaging-free.

EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now. 

I’m a huge fan of WeCompost which is an Auckland-based commercial composting business. It’s got huge potential to make a significant impact on the amount of waste that’s currently going to landfill by turning that waste into an asset instead. Because what you take from the earth, you must replace!


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