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The Callicoon Pantry is a grocery store in Callicoon, New York, specializing in low-waste and bulk products. With the promise of providing their community with “the highest quality foods with the lowest environmental impact possible,” they offer various items, including “pantry staples, natural body care, environmentally safe cleaning supplies, and locally-produced goods.” The Callicoon Pantry works to solve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of (1) Responsible Consumption and Production, (2) Zero Hunger, and (3) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.
Dania LaScola, the owner of The Callicoon Pantry, wanted to use the knowledge she gained from her Sustainability degree to create “a positive outlet for change.” After attending meetings with members who were also motivated by “environmental advocacy and low-waste living,” she partnered with Patrice to start their business. With continuous support from the community, The Pantry began its operations in 2019.
Their low-waste innovation sets The Callicoon Pantry apart from other grocery stores. Customers can bring in containers, which will be measured by weight, to fill with most products. Purchasing only what they need also eliminates food waste, another major issue in the food industry. Their once-strict policy of only having reusable containers in the store has become slightly more lenient due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers have the option of using paper bags or donated jars, as it is not feasible to frequently purchase a jar if they do not have one.
Although this idea of cutting back on waste and buying produce in bulk may seem like a newer sustainable movement, it was how people lived long ago. Plastic packaging was not used until the 20th century. The ease of the use of plastic in modern times is not worth the damage it has already caused and will continue to cause to the future of this planet. The Callicoon Pantry seamlessly merges past lifestyles, modern conveniences, and future protection of the Earth.
They also highlight conscientious brands that work towards reducing packing and production waste. However, as there is still inevitably some waste, they have found environmentally friendly ways to address it. They obtain the services of a local organization to recycle soft plastics and they recycle cardboard into mulch for gardens. Their ambition to help the environment is additionally evident in their hosting clothing swap events to dissuade people from purchasing new clothes.
The Callicoon Pantry works toward three crucial United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The first goal is Responsible Consumption and Production, as they reduce the use of disposable packaging such as plastic and Styrofoam. The second goal is Zero Hunger, as they locally source their products to ensure sustainable agriculture. The third goal is Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, as they create a safe, inclusive environment for all customers.
Inspiration for Dania to establish The Callicoon Pantry stemmed from her passion for providing better grocery options for her community. The meager options for purchasing food products in the area were a grocery store and a local Farmer’s Market. The grocery store was not environmentally friendly due to excessive plastic and Styrofoam packaging waste. The compelling example of a ginger root encased “in single-use materials despite the fact that ginger root already has its own sheath: a layer of skin which you typically peel anyway before consuming” showcases the unnecessary waste in produce. The Farmer’s Market was the only option for attaining fresh products from sustainable agricultural initiatives. However, the limited hours of operation of only three hours on a Sunday made it inaccessible for many people with other obligations during that time. The only other choice was to trek to a larger, neighboring town approximately 45 minutes away. The pricing and selection of grocery stores in larger cities were advantageous, but it was not manageable for people to travel such a great distance every time they needed groceries.
Sullivan County’s historical farmland background and the community’s need for “equitable access to food products” made it the perfect place to implement this innovation. Low waste refilleries were not prevalent in this area, so the success of this business was unpredictable, and a significant risk factor was involved. However, the retail space that became available on Main Street was the perfect opportunity to create The Callicoon Pantry.
There are many short and long-term effects of the Callicoon Pantry. The short terms goals include slowly reducing plastic usage and the negative effects its long-term usage has on the environment. The Callicoon Pantry opened in 2019 and since its inception, they have refilled over 50,000 reusable and/or plastic-free containers. They have saved more money and reduced plastic usage that would otherwise contribute to the waste in our environment. They have helped individuals who want to provide a positive change to their environments, opening a space for like-minded individuals to work together and helping those who are interested in waste reduction but unsure where to start.
The long-term goal of The Callicoon Pantry is to essentially make the world healthier. Their long-term goals are offering more locations like The Callicoon Pantry and expanding the discourse so that the world starts living sustainably. The Callicoon Pantry is still extremely young, but they are determined to persist and provide long-term sustainable grocery options for those interested as well as show those who are on the fence that sustainable living is plausible and less complicated as it is often depicted. With their organized group of people with similar values and beliefs, a powerful network for change can be mobilized to clean up the local ecosystem, write letters to legislators about sustainable initiatives, and sign petitions to stop harmful practices like fracking from taking place in neighborhoods.
The Callicoon Pantry has relied on community support; the community is the reason they opened their business in the first place. However, Patrice (a woman who worked closely with Dania to get The Callicoon Pantry off the ground) was credited for her help in furthering the process of creating The Callicoon Pantry. Dania had spoken at multiple community meetings with individuals who wanted more locally sourced grocery stores in their area. They spoke to many people and most expressed immense support for Dania's idea. With Patrice's help, they were able to turn their idea into a business to service their community.
The Callicoon Pantry did not disclose its revenue or employee history. However, when we spoke about their business strategy, The Callicoon Pantry started out somewhat exclusive. Initially, they were strict in not allowing any disposable packing or unsustainable materials, but as they progressed they changed that sentiment. They realized that not everyone understood the principles of sustainable living and did not want to turn people away. Instead, they began educating them and offering paper bags and donated jars as an alternative. This also allowed them to be sustainable in a different way. They partnered with businesses that needed plastic and gave them their disposable plastic to recycle the plastic in another way. This allowed more people to shop at The Callicoon Pantry while implementing a different way to be sustainable.
The area in which The Callicoon Pantry was invented had no sustainable grocery stores, making the inception of The Callicoon Pantry a necessity—and the community tirelessly rallied for it.
This innovation has brought sustainable ideas and methods to a small community. It has educated them on how sustainable grocery stores are plausible and can be implemented throughout many neighborhoods. They have reduced the usage of plastic in their community, which can have a positive impact on the environment. The Callicoon Pantry has only been in operation for a few years, mostly during the pandemic, but it has remained open and accessible to the community, using it to further overall business and partnerships for the use of recycled plastic. The Callicoon Pantry has helped people understand that sustainability is possible. They are helping sustain the world one community at a time.
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Dania LaScola, Founder
The Callicoon Pantry is a community grocery store focused on offering the highest quality foods with the lowest environmental impact possible. They specialize in pantry staples, natural body care, environmentally safe cleaning supplies, and locally-produced goods—all in either bulk or low-waste packaging.