Boulder’s First Zero Waste Grocery Store

Plastic-free and Completely Convenient

Article by Livia Hooson

Photography by Poppy & Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

The first of its kind in Boulder is a new zero-waste grocery store designed to diminish single-use packaging, offer locally sourced health foods and a place for locals to gather. Welcome to the scene ‘drum roll, please’...Nude Foods Market. 

Located on 3233 Walnut St., Nude Foods is what you would expect from a traditional grocery store, stocked with fruits, veggies, juices and prepared meals—all without the overwhelming plastic packaging that wreaks havoc on the environment. 

“Americans produce about 1,700 pounds of trash a year,” shares Verity Noble, one of the four founders of the company.

She is an entrepreneur and a passionate advocate of waste-free living, noticing over the years that people hate the amount of trash produced but also want convenience. This reality set in motion their entire business design to sell plastic-free, pre-packaged food (more accessible than a bulk store) that can all be purchased through a contactless system via a smartphone or a traditional check-out option. It’s all about listening to customers and responding through action. 

Verity calls their business “a grocery store from scratch,” referencing the team’s experimental approach that could be credited to each of the founder’s unique backgrounds, from chefs to builders, with none of them coming from the grocery store space. Their plastic-free supply chain begins by sourcing from local farms and organic wholesalers with the majority delivered in reusable containers and then packaged in bread cloth or glass. They have hundreds of dry food items like pasta and pantry staples and a vibrant selection of vegetables and fruits curated with an ‘ugly produce’ approach in opposition to the big-box grocer’s mentality. There is a large refrigerated section of pre-made goods as well as lifestyle products, including cleaners, reusable Tupperware and coffee filters, and even locally designed greeting cards.

“I hear what the customers are asking for and keep my eye on the market and where we are headed,” Verity says.

Covid actually gave them an opportunity to grow their delivery service and build a solid customer base. Most recently, they developed a subscription meal plan to take food-prep stress off of households by offering everything from baked goods, currys and plant-based proteins, among many others. To cater to the community’s taste buds, they enlist a customer board that tests each product before it hits the shelves. 

Verity notes that many people assume their storefront to be a premium price, but in reality, their pricing is competitive with local grocery stores and always lower than Whole Foods. Their commitment to a lifestyle of sustainability is exemplified in their recycling program that reimburses customers for returning glass containers in-store, where you initially pay up to $1.50 and receive $1.00 back upon return. Think of it as your investment for a cleaner, greener planet.

They also take customers hard-to-recycle materials, like body care products, plastic bags and pens that are organized and then taken to CHaRM recycling center in Boulder. Customers are always given the option to contribute 1 percent of purchases to Restore Colorado, a program that gives grants to farmers who apply regenerative farming practices to help reverse global warming. 

When speaking of the communal input that has helped launch the grocery store’s success, Verity says, “Nude Foods has so much been about amazing, serendipitous moments.”

Upon stepping into the store, it is impossible to look past the live greenery bursting over shelving units and throughout the aisles. This is thanks to their collab with Incrementum, a local plant-design service helmed by two female creatives who have adorned the space in an organic, natural vibe promoting Nude’s purpose to connect us closer to the land. 

Their work towards building bonds within the city means hosting events before or after the store’s hours. They have done coat drives for the unhoused, school fundraisers, cooking classes and flower arranging classes hosted by Incrementum, with 2022 bringing drawing classes and tango lessons for curious locals.

As we discover new ways to be more eco-conscious at home, we are hard-pressed to find a reason not to be on board with Nude Food’s delicious mission.

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