Tucker Mitchell, Mr. T Carting Marketing Project Manager
Mr. T Carting works with thousands of businesses across Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. This is the first in a series highlighting our customers who are exploring the pathways to Zero Waste.
Founded in 2018, Precycle is a package-free store, selling produce, bulk food and home goods from their Brooklyn storefront. The shop is located 5 minutes walk from the Jefferson Ave L station, right on the border between Bushwick and Ridgewood. Precycle is a Zero Waste store, meaning it diverts over 90% of its waste from landfills, producing little to no trash. We asked Precycle’s founder Katerina Bogatireva a few questions about her business.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is Precycle?
Precycle is New York City’s first Zero Waste store. We aim to provide customers with choices of groceries, produce, household products, personal care items, without the packaging. The idea is that we allow customers to bring their own packaging. They weigh before they fill it and pay only for the product, not for the packaging.
How long has Precycle been in Brooklyn?
We opened in December of 2018, it’s been three and a half years. A large portion was during the pandemic. We pivoted from being completely 100% offline to 100% online. It was a challenge, but we overcame it and now we’re back.
Tell me more about your delivery service!
Customers would place orders online. We prepare them, ship them or have them available for pickup. We reopened for in-store sales in July of last year. We use paper bags for dry goods. For liquids and spices we use jars that customers could bring back.
How does Mr. T Carting support your business?
You are my haulers! You provide good service. We have waste removed once a week on Mondays. We mostly have cardboard and some rigid plastic for recycling. And when it comes to trash, it’s not very often. For example, our first year in business–pre pandemic–2019 we had 5 trash bags in the entire year.
Are you taking any initiatives to reduce waste? What’s the next step?
Right now we just started accepting used batteries from our customers, when we have a full box, take it to be properly recycled. I would also like to find a solution for composting for our customers. That’s something Mr. T can help us out with! I’d like to learn about that a bit more. Maybe to have once a week drop-off. We are working on bringing more community events to the store. In early July we’ll have an up-cycled fashion vendor popping up and they will also teach a class how to dye fabrics with natural dyes like onion skins and avocado pits-things like that.
Is there anything else you’d like to highlight?
We’re really trying to implement these circular relationships with everybody that we’re working with. When it comes to our nut milk, our pickles, kimchi, kombucha you name it. All these vendors, we have an arrangement they take back the packaging. I’ll give you an example: we get tofu from Ithaca Soy. They deliver it in a big plastic bucket, and then they take the bucket back to reuse. It’s great that we have these options of working with these wonderful producers to take the packaging back and reuse it. I think, generally, reuse is the only solution. It’s not about compostable packaging and recycling. It’s all great, and recycling in NYC is not the worst but I think ultimately reuse is the only way to go.
In addition to providing a package-free alternative to shopping, Precycle offers several other community services. Behind the counter is a featured recipe that’s usually so popular that the ingredients sell out. During our interview, Katerina was setting up a plant display. The succulents and assorted greeneries were sourced from a Long Island nursery that had agreed to take back the leftover plant pots. And there was a notice board advertising several green community events and services.
If you’re interested in checking out Precycle, visit them at 50 Cyprus Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11237 or online at https://www.precyclenyc.com/.