Back when reducing plastic consumption typically meant buying secondhand clothing or furniture, Brianne Miller saw its role in creating a better way to sell food.
Ontario-raised Miller, who holds an MSc in marine biology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, did much international fieldwork from 2008 to 2015. Visiting remote sites littered with toothbrushes and detergent bottles prompted her to start Nada, a package-free grocery store and delivery service based in Vancouver, in 2015 as a way to close the lid on waste. “Our model essentially relies on a local and circular economy food system,” Miller says.
Serving customers online and in person with 46 staff, Nada started off as pop-up shops out of the Patagonia store in Kitsilano, expanded into farmers markets and community events, and now has a retail space in East Vancouver.
The company’s recovery program, Nada’s Own, rescues food within its store and supply chain and turns it into items for sale, like carrot-top pesto. “Your average grocery store is typically wasting between 8 and 12 percent of their total inventory to food loss and waste,” Miller says. “Ours has consistently been less than 1 percent.”
The certified B Corporation, which works with 150 B.C.-based food processors, manufacturers and suppliers, sells products by weight, refills customer containers and delivers to most cities in Metro Vancouver. Miller also uses the retail space to host film screenings, food system repair workshops and panel discussions: “We bring in farmers, scientists and food policy experts to educate our community about the importance of supporting our B.C. food system.”