When Cailynn Chase walked into Bio c’Bon, a convenience store in Geneva, Switzerland, she was impressed by the zero-waste options it offered.
Filled with pasta, cereal, nuts, laundry and dish detergents, each dispenser at the store allowed customers to bring their own reusable containers to purchase goods.
After her trip, Chase, a senior global studies major, founded Jars Du Jour, a zero-waste company, in 2019. It sells organic products like trail mix, coffee beans, instant potato mix, dry fruits, rice and beans, all packaged into jars.
Chase thought the name “Jars Du Jour,” meaning “jars of the day” in French could relate to zero waste. By having a jar, one can purchase the exact amount of food they need.
Chase purchases products in bulk from various dry organic food vendors. She hopes to open her business to low-income communities since it will allow customers to buy by weight and without paying for packaging.
“It would be really great and giving them health that hasn’t really been provided to them over the years in communities because really the only food establishments around carry lots of processed snacks,” Chase said.
The retail food sector generates eight million tons of food waste a year, with much of it from packaging waste, according to CNBC. Food is shipped in boxes, wrapped in plastic and most shoppers carry the food in plastic or paper bags.
Zero-waste lifestyles encourage users to bring their own refillable containers and buy products in bulk to reduce consumer waste, CNBC reported.
Most of Chase’s products come from Tierra Farms, an organic nuts and dried fruit distributor and manufacturer in Valatie, New York. She chooses organic food because having natural, chemical-free and non-synthetic food will give customers the most amount of nutrients, she said.
The mission of the business is to make zero-waste shopping easier and attract more people to the movement, Chase said.
“Waste is just something, that if a lot of people had the education and compassion, it would help save humanity essentially,” Chase said.
Customers place orders through Instagram, Facebook or email, which are then delivered to them in person. Her favorite part about the business is seeing customers living in a reusable lifestyle, she said.
“It’s really inspiring for me to meet other people who are interested in living in a low waste lifestyle because it kinda brings hopes back into me, makes me look forward in the future,” Chase said. “Hopefully we are all working together to make a bigger impact.”
Chase and her three volunteer interns run the company, who build strategies, research local organic vendors, and communicate and collaborate with other organizations and small businesses.
“What makes it unique, is the fact at least in the area that I’m in there isn’t really anything for like sustainable groceries,” said Anthony Funez, a Jars Du Jour intern and a junior at Penn State University Berks, who lives in Leesport, Pennsylvania. “I feel like that’s the crucial step that we have to take. We need to start realizing that the earth doesn’t have a price and zero waste is important.”
The main obstacle for Chase has been balancing the business’ funding and school work. Chase hasn’t been able to apply for grants or set up crowdfunding platforms to fund her business yet, she said.
“I’ve also not had a sufficient amount of time yet to speak to the proper amount of people in the area and understand more about my market,” Chase added.
Jessica Traxler, a sophomore sociology and geography and urban studies major, who has been living a no-waste lifestyle for six months, said Chase’s idea of a no-waste business is “amazing.”
“I can’t believe that it took a senior to come up with something as simple as that because that’s one of the easiest ways that people talk about how hard zero waste is and one of the easiest things is to just get rid of packaging,” Traxler said.
After graduation, Chase is planning to stay in North Philadelphia and hopes to open a store near Main Campus.
“I thought about where I am in Philly and like how much needs to be done, like to help out the community out here,” Chase said. “This is the community that I’m in right now, that I can spend more time in.”