No-Waste Shopping Service 'Loop' Comes To Rhode Island

TerraCycle Include USA UPS Loop Clorox Häagen-Dazs Cascade

Bristol resident Parker Kotuby is one of the first Rhode Islanders to use the service.

A zero-waste shopping service is now available to Rhode Island residents. A zero-waste shopping service is now available to Rhode Island residents. (Loop) BRISTOL, RI — Next time you go shopping, pay attention to the amount of plastic packaging in your bags. Produce wrappers, bags of powdered sugar, bottles of soda, even the bags themselves — all plastic. Loop, a fledgling company that recently began serving Rhode Island residents, is on a mission to change that.   "There was never another option available to me before Loop," said Parker Kotuby, a 29-year-old Bristol resident and flagship Rhode Island Loop user. "So much junk is thrown away."   Loop takes a new approach to shopping, delivering totes full of household goods, food and other supplies to user's doors, all in reusable packing. Well-known brands from Cascade to Clorox to Häagen-Dazs are packaged in durable materials like stainless steel that users return once the product has been used up.   Here's how it works: users pick out their desired products and are charged for the products themselves as well as a refundable deposit to encourage returning the packaging. Once users send the empty containers back, the deposit is returned to them.   "[The price] can seem crazy on the face of it," Kotuby said. "It's definitely not bargain pricing ... but I'm willing to pay a slightly higher price to feel like I'm making a difference."   Several days later, a large, study black tote emblazoned with the Loop logo arrives via UPS. Virtually everything in that tote from the containers themselves to the little plastic lock that keeps the zippers closed in transit can be placed back inside the bag for reuse or recycling. Even the Clorox wipes, usually a one-and-done item, are sent with a canvas bag for collection to be sent back to Loop headquarters.   "So far, the only things I've been able to find that are disposable are the thin plastic sealants that keep the lids on the stainless-steel cans of snacks during transit," Kotuby said. "It's pretty impressive."   So far, Kotuby said he hasn't seen a major decrease in the amount of trash he and his wife produce in a week, which he said is likely due to the unavailability of certain items and that he is still a new user of the service. Over time, he believes services like Loop will help keep plastic out of landfills and oceans.   The biggest drawback, he said, is most likely the price. Initial costs can be high, though over time he believes it will be most cost-effective. For those who are unsure if Loop would work for them, he encourages taking the leap.   "It's very low-risk to try. If you don't like it, you can get your deposit back and just not place any more orders," Kotuby said. "It's worth it to give it a shot. It's easier than going to the grocery store!"