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A Q&A with the owner of GoodFor, the packaging-free supermarket

James Denton, 29, is the bright young thing behind Auckland's newest heath-oriented speciality supermarket, GoodFor. Here, he discusses why forging a way to a plastic-free future is important for his generation. 

Sustainable success

GoodFor, Auckland’s newest heath-oriented speciality supermarket is exploring a new way for Kiwi consumers to buy their groceries. The shelves of GoodFor are lined with bulk goods, flowing free and completely without plastic packaging.

Founder and director James Denton, 29, was inspired to found GoodFor by the growing conscious consumer trend, as people start to take more responsibility for their impact on the environment.

In the modern world, it seems like a particularly fresh concept, but it does have its roots in a bygone era.

Do you think your age helps you bring a fresh perspective to the traditional supermarket model?

Absolutely. Younger people have different challenges to face, we have a fragile future in front of us and we need to make the necessary changes. These changes include everyday things like food shopping. The current convenience shopping model is affecting the younger generation’s future and it is the younger people who have the energy and the innovation to do something about it. 

So that fed into your focus on sustainability?

[I have] an understanding that the current system needs to change. I feel it is pretty obvious that the current way we do things is not sustainable. There are a lot of great organisations truly trying to create sustainability in their business and I personally feel it should be a requirement.

Why is the waste-free model so important to you? 

We hope our brand stands for more than just waste-free shopping. It is no secret that our planet is under tremendous environmental pressure and humans are the culprits. We feel it is our duty to do everything we can to provide solutions to make a positive environmental impact, and waste-free shopping is easily implementable as well a great way to raise awareness of the greater problem. 

What has been your customers’ reaction? Has it changed the way they think about shopping? 

We have definitely made an impact on people. A lot of our customers live and breathe this lifestyle and appreciate the quality and cleanliness of our store. People who are new to the concept definitely see the store as a "no more excuses" offering. A lot are beginning to take action for the first time in their lives.

Logistically, how do you do it? Can people buy everything they need sustainably? 

There are definitely flaws in our model where minimal amounts of waste are still created as well as obvious food mile problems. However, the benefits outweigh the problems a hundred-fold and if we had to be 100 percent sustainable even down to our distributors’ choice of packaging, we wouldn't exist. It is all about taking baby steps and creating more and more awareness. 

How do you intend to grow your business? What's the next step?

We will relentlessly improve our offering to make this way of shopping irresistible to the public. Our plan, right from the beginning has always been to give New Zealand the opportunity to shop like this so we intend on opening multiple sites, the next one is just on the horizon! 

What advice do you have for other retailers looking to run their business more sustainably?

Whatever your business, make sustainability a focus point, There are always better alternatives, you just have to look. A lot of business owners opt for the cheaper, less sustainable option but they don't realise that the public want sustainability and they are actively seeking it. A little investment now will pay off in the long run.

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