mason jars not required

A Zero-Waste Fail: The Case of the Stale Pistachios


The Case of the Stale Pistachios

There are so many wonderful things about the zero-waste lifestyle. It ushers consumers towards a circular economy. It declares war on excessive and extravagant packaging. It’s also wonderfully aesthetic with its string tote bags and rows of neatly arranged glass containers.

And while all of the above is good, what ecobloggers (like me) don’t often talk about are the fails and obstacles and frustrating things that can also happen. So listen up because it’s story time! I’m sharing this to show that there are indeed problems with the zero-waste lifestyle, not to scare you away from package free/bulk stores.

A truth universally acknowledged

Package-free stores need to ensure that their package-less goods don’t spoil and go to waste. That means no bugs and no humidity, two things which are plentiful in Singapore.

The Setting

A few weeks ago I visited a package-free store (which shall remain nameless). I picked up some rice and pistachios, and to my surprise and disappointment, the pistachios were either stale and too hard to even chew. I sent a quick, polite message via IG to the store and received an equally polite message back. They were sorry to hear about said pistachios and were working on new ways to protect their air-sensitive goods. I didn’t demand for a refund (the pistachios cost $3.70) and wasn’t offered a replacement or refund.

THe Suspect

Plain old air. Package-free stores can store their foods in a few different ways - many use lever-gravity-dispenser styles for dry goods like beans, rice, and nuts. I’ve also seen large plastic lock-lid bins used and these seem the most secure. The least secure-looking (in my opinion) are clear acrylic (?) bins with an easy-lift lid and no air-tight seal.

the verdict

I’m going to pass on buying nuts from package-free stores for now. It’s always a good idea to buy a small amount of something first before buying a truckload, and I’m glad I only bought one jarful of pistachios. What’s going to happen to them? They’re going to be shelled, and the shells will be used as garden mulch!