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‘Zero Waste’ store coming to Vienna, promoting sustainability

A new store in Vienna will feature food without packaging, household products that don’t add to landfills, and much more.

Mala Persaud, who has lived in the town for over a decade, plans to unveil Trace — The Zero Waste Store to the public this October at 140 Church Street Northwest, part of her personal journey to embrace a lifestyle of seeking to eliminate non-recyclable and non-reusable products and packaging.

“People can actually see with their own eyes…how much trash we generated with the pandemic,” Persaud told Tysons Reporter. “This is a way to make it a little bit easier to make slightly different choices.”

She plans to have approximately 400 items at her store with bins for spices, bulk foods from rice to nuts and beans, local products such as honey and peanut butter, hygiene items such as soap and shampoo, and household cleaning items.

Trace joins a growing community of environmentally friendly stores that seek to provide alternatives to single-use packaging, which often ends up in landfills, the ocean, or incinerators that emit greenhouse gases.

Persaud committed to transitioning away from single-use packaging when she was on vacation in Belize in 2016 and saw plastic bottles and trash on a road, sensing that it could soon be washed into the ocean.

She avoids plastic bottles, gave up cheese for a month last October due to the packaging, and embraced other lifestyle changes such as Plastic Free July.

“The earth cannot re-absorb the plastic we’ve created,” her website says. “So we have to find a way to reduce how much we use. Zero Waste stores make it possible to re-use what we already have, thereby reducing the amount that ends up in landfills or in the ocean.”

Even Trace’s store sign is an opportunity for sustainability. Persaud is asking the town to allow changes for her building storefront so she can use more reusable and cost-effective materials, enabling any future tenants to simply replace lettering rather than having to make a completely new sign.

Her application is going before the Board of Architectural Review tomorrow (Thursday) for its 7:30 p.m. online meeting.

“When I leave…the next business owner is just going to be able to lift the letters off and get new ones printed, and it will cost a couple hundred dollars,” she said.

Persaud’s family has served as an example for her low-waste lifestyle, too: Her parents were surprised by all the packaging used in the U.S. when they immigrated from Guyana, and her grandmothers saw paper towels as a luxury, reusing them until it was no longer possible to do so.

Her 20-year-old son has also taken steps to reduce his waste footprint, such as avoiding plastic cutlery for takeout food.

Persaud has personally vetted the items that her store will sell, such as wooden spoons. She brings her own set with her to avoid creating unnecesary waste.

“It does become habit-forming,” Persaud said of adjusting to bringing her own packaging to a store. “And then when you see how much less trash you’re generating, it actually feels pretty good.”

Photos courtesy Trace — The Zero Waste Store / Instagram, tracezerowaste.com

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