Even for the most eco-conscious of us, there’s one area where it feels nearly impossible to avoid plastic packaging: the grocery store.
Enter Infinity Goods.
Meet Ashwin Ramdas, Founder and CEO of Infinity Goods, a zero-waste grocery delivery service based in Denver. Ashwin was inspired to start the company when he saw the damage of plastic pollution hit close to home. “Plastic pollution is something that has worried me for so long, not only because of the macro-level of destruction it’s having on our planet, but I’ve also seen it firsthand,” he says. “I’ve seen in my family’s home in India where plastic pollution has basically clogged all the waterways. I’ve seen how it’s damaged communities. I’ve seen how it’s damaged wildlife and seeped it’s way into the wildest parts of the world.”
Wanting to avoid contributing to the problem, Ashwin started by simply reducing the plastic waste he created in his own life. He was able to make some significant changes...until it came to food. “When I went plastic-free, I essentially had to give up all the foods I loved like pasta and ice cream and veggie meats,” he says.
“I realized if giving up plastic was that difficult for me—someone who’s really motivated and passionate about it—then it’s probably going to be really difficult for everyone. And if it’s that difficult, no one’s going to do it.”
Ashwin set to work on a solution to the problem: plastic-free grocery delivery. He borrowed inspiration from the milkman who saw his hay day in 1950’s America, and from the tiffin wallahs (or dabbawallas) who delivered lunch to his parents in India.
He thought, “Why can’t we use that same system here in the US through grocery delivery? We’re already delivering food to people, why can’t we take back the packaging and reuse it?”
Spoiler alert: we can. Infinity Goods is the first zero-waste grocery delivery service in Denver. You place your order online a-la Instacart, but instead of plastic packaging inside of plastic bags, your groceries arrive at your doorstep in reusable containers and compostable packaging, all neatly piled into cloth tote bags. The next time you place an order, your friendly courier will drop off your fresh groceries and grab your empty containers to sanitize and reuse. (They can also grab food scraps to compost, too.) Just like that, you’ve participated in a circular economy that opts out of an enormous amount of plastic waste.
This service is great for consumers looking to up their sustainability game without causing themselves major inconveniences. “A lot of people are becoming more and more concerned with plastic pollution and they're trying to figure out ways to cut it out of their life,” Ashwin says. “They have the reusable tote bag, but soon they’ll realize that everything in their tote bag is also packaged in plastic. And once they realize that, they’ll start looking for that alternative that is completely plastic-free. That’s where options like Infinity Goods come in.”
A plastic-free grocery supply chain is also beneficial for the suppliers. Ashwin found that many were stoked to partner with him as they had also been looking to reduce their waste. Plus, getting rid of packaging means trimming that cost from the budget—a win for both the supplier and the consumer when prices drop.
“I would say that right now, we can probably cover about 90% of your grocery list in a zero-waste fashion.”
Infinity Goods has some of the staples you’d expect from zero-waste grocery delivery—staples like trail mix, nuts, and grains—but they also have some plastic-free unicorns. Pasta, for example. (Have you ever tried buying pasta that’s free from plastic? I can tell you from experience that it’s nearly impossible.) They also sell cheese, oat milk, tofu, ice cream, energy bites, nut butters, and some prepared foods from local restaurants.
“Where can you get these foods plastic-free? Nowhere—except for Infinity Goods,” Ashwin beams.
And in addition to eliminating plastic packaging, your purchases support local producers. Many of the groceries you buy aren’t being sourced from massive corporations or shipped from all over the globe (by way of oil-gobbling airplanes). “These are foods that are being made here.” While Infinity Goods sources produce from Sprouts and Natural Grocers, they partner with over 20 local producers for prepared goods and specialties, including Reunion Bread (my current bakery obsession), Best One Yet, Unwrapp’d, Brad B Jammin, Somebody People, and Denver Chip Co.
Infinity Goods affords us the opportunity to vote with our dollar for the world we want to live in. Are groceries from them more expensive than shopping at Safeway or King Soopers? That depends. Sometimes. Some items are pricier, in part because they’re higher quality. Others are actually cheaper because Infinity Goods can buy in bulk and their suppliers can cut the cost of packaging from the price tag.
Sometimes it’s hard to see past that price tag. But when we do, we see the sustainable economy we’re supporting by shopping from companies like Infinity Goods, an economy where people and planet are valued alongside profit. An economy that is nostalgic for the community ties that come from knowing the milkman. An economy on a planet that isn’t drowning in waste we can opt out of creating.
“It can sometimes feel impossible, and this plastic pollution crisis can a lot of times feel daunting and unsolvable and really discouraging,” Ashwin admits. “But we are trying to create a solution that can allow you to avoid plastic and really empower you to fight back against this issue. And we’re not the only ones.”
There are a few other plastic-free grocery delivery services cropping up these days (though I’m not aware of any others that deliver in Denver), and there are pioneers in other industries focused on creating a circular economy. All of them give me hope. Even if government policy is slow to change, at least private corporations are picking up some slack.
As for Ashwin, he keeps his eyes on the possibilities.
He envisions a brick and mortar marketplace in the future where customers can buy their plastic-free groceries in person. He’s also working on some high-tech upgrades that include automation of processes on their site and tracking containers.
Getting groceries from Infinity Goods feels like giving yourself, your community, and the earth a hug all at the same time. And giving Ashwin a high-five. You can browse their marketplace and place an order here.
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