Get to know Grand Rapids (and the world)

Angela Todd, Treehuggers

I think it’s become quite clear in the first month that I’ve taken an interest in sustainable businesses and people.

But part of that is they’re super accessible and like to help other people out. On Tuesday, I sat down with Angela Todd from Treehuggers, 947 Wealthy Street.

It was a suggestion from Mike Hughes, but Mitten Brewing Co.,  the brewery I tend bar, has received ingredients from the store as well.

It’s a package-free grocery store, and it’s awesome walking in and seeing bins full of Michigan-grown products all for the picking. Topp said you can bring in just about anything to fill up, just try to avoid brand new Ziploc bags – it kind of defeats the purpose.

Topp said she’s like any other person, and wanted to do something she wanted to do with her life. But it took her a long time to finally decide that the risks involved with going on her own were worth it.

“I wanted to recycle and compost and do it all right,” she said. “I wanted to create a place with those opportunities and start those conversations.”

She started a store in Holland and began with recycling. She did her research and now can accept almost anything you could think of. Check out the list here. Now with a store in Grand Rapids, she collects up to 8,000 pounds a month of recycling, filling semi-truck loads.

The grocery part soon stemmed from the recycling and where it came from. A lot of trash is just useless packaging that can be avoided, she said.

She said that while it takes a lot more effort and logistical work with farmers to make it happen than a grocery store with, say, one vender.

“It’s the way I prefer it,” Topp said. “If I need some beans, I go to a farmer and get beans. It’s how it should be done. There are so many great things produced locally.”

The cost isn’t too bad either, according to Topp. Across the board, the prices should be cheaper than a majority of health food stores. And it also helps that you purchase only the amount you want.

“Most stores, you have to buy a prepackaged amount,” she said, adding there can be a lot of waste involved.”

Near the end of the conversation, she brought up an interesting point when I talked about how a lot of people wish they were more sustainable, but don’t know how.

“Everyone is on the journey, but we’re all at different stages,” she said. “Everybody can do something, but no body can do everything.”

Basically that sums up everybody from the guy who doesn’t realize he needs to take care of the Earth to the uberhippie that does almost everything sustainably.

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