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Zero-waste grocery store in San Mateo provides greener option on Peninsula

Zero-waste grocery store opens in San Mateo
Zero-waste grocery store opens in San Mateo 02:12

SAN MATEO – A new grocery store on the Peninsula is drawing praise from environmental groups, as it does not offer items packaged in single-use plastics.

Byrd's Filling Station is now open in Downtown San Mateo, a zero-waste establishment.

"It's important to have a zero-waste store here on the Peninsula because right now, the only local options we have are to drive all the way to San Francisco," said owner Laura Porter. "Byrd's Filling Station is a zero-waste grocery store. Essentially, we've taken the concept of a traditional grocery store, and we've reimagined all of the products in it without single-use plastics."

The grocery store does not utilize single-use plastics, and allows customers to refill containers with goods.

"You can bring in your own containers and refill anything from dry goods to organic produce, to cleaning products and personal care items," she said.

A shopper at Byrd's Filling Station, a zero-waste grocery store in San Mateo. CBS

Porter had the vision for the zero-waste store a few years ago.

"I realized that I wasn't doing everything that I could to leave a sustainable planet for my children. This is really about cleaning up our habits, teaching others to clean up habits, and getting into a better rhythm that will leave a cleaner world for the next generation," Porter told KPIX 5. "Challenge yourself to go into the store and try to avoid plastic. Going in with that mindset was really what opened my eyes and made me more aware of the issue."

Bruce Olszewski, a senior lecturer from San Jose State's Environmental Studies Department, said he's hopeful more spots like Byrd's Filling Station open up to give people an option for a more sustainable way to shop.

"Plastic waste is a massive problem, not just in the Bay Area, but globally. Plastic use has been increasing over time. It's about 20% of everything that goes into the landfill, so it's a very serious problem," Olszewski said. "They absolutely make a difference because they provide an option for people to make a choice to create less plastic waste."

Alfred Twu, the chair of zero-waste committee with the Sierra Club's SF Bay chapter, echoed Olszewski's point.

"I think it's great, and there are two reasons. First, there's the reduction in packaging waste. Secondly, there's also a reduction in product waste," Twu said. "One shop alone is not going to make a huge difference in the Bay Area. But, if one shop can show that refillable products – which means you have repeat customers going in – can be a better business model than single use products, then we could really see this take off."

Byrd's Filling Station will have a celebratory grand opening on June 3.

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