Nu Grocery founders pioneer the 5R’s of reducing waste as new Main Street location launches

By Quinn Abugov

With winter weather upon us and the calendar heading towards Christmas and New Years, it’s time to reflect on the banner year of commercial retail openings in Old Ottawa East.

The neighbourhood now boasts a number of new businesses, a few of them having been profiled in this Business Beat column, that have added to the small but growing, diverse mosaic of commerce dotting the Main Street corridor.

Nu Grocery, a grocery store that adheres to the Zero Waste lifestyle pioneered by French-American author, Beatrice Johnson, recently opened up its second Ottawa location at the Corners on Main development.

The first location was opened in Hintonburg, in 2017, by local entrepreneurs and keen advocates of the Zero Waste lifestyle, Valerie Leloup and Sia Veeramani.

The concept of Nu Grocery – which pioneers a waste-free business model by which customers bring their own re-usable packaging to mitigate waste – proved so successful, that it spawned a sister location in Old Ottawa East (OOE).

The OOE outlet is a well-lit, spacious store-front with an open concept that boasts a variety of self-serve, bulk food items. The store officially opened on October 19th, ushered in by a boisterous crowd, and speeches made by local MPP Joel Harden and City Councillor Jeff Leiper.

The concept of Nu Grocery – which sells everything from fresh produce to common household items, to plant-based meat alternatives and cheeses – fits well with forward thinking and progressive businesses already established in the community.

This fact was not lost on coowner Leloup, who strongly believed that Main Street was the perfect location for her and Veeramani’s first expansion.“We were looking for an urban location, one that has really good biking and public infrastructure in place. The area has become very pedestrian friendly and that was very attractive to us.”

Likeminded businesses, such as the Green Door, Singing Pebble and 3 Trees, have effectively turned Main Street into a mini “Eco-hub”, and that trend will continue with the addition of Nu Grocery.

The new store will also provide the neighbourhood with a convenient, “close to home” alternative to the larger, chain grocery stores at Pretoria Bridge and Billings Bridge.

When asked how she established her novel business, Leloup says it was born partly from her frustration with conventional grocery stores whose models don’t take the environment into account. “I used to have to shop at five different grocery stores around Ottawa in order to shop sustainably, so I decided to start my own store for people like me.”

Leloup, an Environmental Science major herself, became enamoured with the Zero Waste lifestyle after reading Beatrice Johnson’s book, “Zero Waste”. “I learned that instead of the 3 R’s that we are taught as children, the reality is there are 5 R’s to reducing our waste; 1) Refuse, 2) Reduce, 3) Re-use, 4) Recycling and 5) Raw” says Leloup. “Recycling plastic is not a solution to a problem, therefore it’s quite low on the list.”

After meeting Johnson at a speaking engagement in Ottawa, the author put her in touch with Veeramani, another “Zero Waster” and, as Leloup puts it, “they created a perfect partnership.” And thanks to this partnership, OOE is beginning to experience the novelty and the hype of the Zero Waste lifestyle.

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Filed in: Business Beat, FP, Front Page, Main Street Renewal Tags: , , , ,

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