Armed with veggie chips, kombucha, raw honey, organic quinoa and sugar-free gummy bears, two Blue Mountains women are spearheading a revolution.
The quiet uprising aims to change the shopping habits of thousands, encouraging the environmentally insensitive, the extravagant and the thoughtless to temper wastefulness and change inconsiderate habits that have insidiously crept into mainstream shopping over generations.
For others, it is a welcome alternative to grocery shopping they have long craved.
Long-time locals, Kerrie Roberts and Kristy Bainbridge opened the 50th branch of Australian wholefoods retailer The Source Bulk Foods in the Town Centre Arcade outside Katoomba Coles in March.
Committed to supporting Australian suppliers and sustainable, ethical production, The Source stocks more than 500 whole foods and household goods, with a focus on organic, vegan, gluten free and paleo friendly products sold in bulk at competitive prices.
As well as a wide range of granolas and mueslis, The Source has three varieties of kombucha on tap; cooking oils; dish washing detergent, soap and shampoo; different salts; organic nuts; veggie chips; organic teas; 100 per cent nut butters made onsite; dried fruits and berries; polenta, rice, food proteins, aluminium-free baking powder and various flours; gluten-free vegetable pastas among its range of more than 500 products.
There is even a "naughty corner'' with stashes of sugar-free lollies, dark chocolate-covered nuts and organic berries, with a vegan chocolate Easter special on the way.
Founded in Mullumbimby on the NSW Far North Coast in 2012 by husband and wife Paul Medeiros and Emma Smith, who left corporate Sydney life in 2007 to start a family and operate a fruit and veg shop, The Source Bulk Foods focused on zero waste and sustainable consumption.
In the past two years, it had sourced a fully compostable coffee bag (including the zip lock and air valve), saved more than 50 million plastic bags from circulation, kept 300,000kg of packaging waste from landfill, planted 75,000 trees and helped employ hundreds of people in Madagascar, donated more than $75,000 to ocean conservation organisations through reusable water bottles sales and supported children of the Outback.
The Source Bulk Foods was "a business with heart'', Mr Medeiros said.
"Our whole mantra is about going back to basics. We know our customers are very savvy and want to know where their food is from, which is something we really focus on delivering.''
The Blue Mountains mother/daughter team discovered The Source Bulk Foods when they visited the Rouse Hill store about 18 months ago.
Impressed, Kristy immediately made inquiries about the possibility of establishing a local store.
"We just loved the concept: the aisles brimming with healthy foods and the zero-waste mission, which is something mum and I are both very passionate about.''
The timing was ideal for Kristy, 34, who had worked in the corporate arena of commercial sport for several years and was on maternity leave with her second daughter.
She had begun a master's degree in business, motivated to embark on a solo venture, "I knew I wanted a change and to do something more closely linked with my local community. This ticked all the boxes for me".
For real estate agent Kerrie, The Source combined her top passions.
"I love food and cooking and everything about it.
"I try to live a healthy lifestyle and eat healthy food, and I've tried to pass that on to my children. Now I want to pass that on to the grandkids. I want them to realise how important healthy, nutritional food is to your body.''
The Source provided an alternate shopping outlet for people with allergies, food intolerances and dietary requirements as well as anyone who wanted to make more conscious shopping choices.
"It's about going back to basics, eating the rainbow of food and being interested in where your food comes from,'' Kerrie, a mother-of-four and grandmother of three (soon to be four), said.
The retailer's "package-it-yourself" shopping concept meant that customers could scoop produce into brown paper and calico bags, containers from home or bought instore, meaning less packaging going to landfill.
"It's all about providing good old-fashioned grocery shopping, the modern way,'' Kristy said. "It's a style of grocery shopping your grandparents would be comfortable and familiar with.''
"If you bake your own cookies they might have five ingredients in them. If you buy a packet from a supermarket, they might have twenty, including hidden sugars and preservatives,'' Kristy said.
``It's confusing and overwhelming.''
The pair also wanted to help reduce waste and were encouraged by the local community, which had long been receptive to healthy eating, zero waste concepts and conservation principals.
Rather than considering similar shops as competitors, they viewed them as like-minded colleagues which complemented each other and offered customers something different.
Kerrie and Kristy dispelled the perception that bulk food shopping was more expensive than mainstream supermarket shopping.
"It's not,'' Kristy said. "You buy as much or as little as you actually need.
"For instance, if you need a certain unique ingredient for a recipe and go to the supermarket, you might have to buy a 200 gram bag of it but only use 40 grams. The leftover sits in your pantry and eventually gets thrown out, whereas you can shop in the store and purchase the exact amount you need, which may only cost you 40 cents and you have nothing left or wasted.''
The duo looked forward to expanding their knowledge about wholefoods by learning from customers, researching products and sharing their knowledge about products and their uses.
"I'm always asking customers `What are you making?' or `What do you use that product for?','' Kristy said. ``We are always learning from our customers.''
Kristy and Kerrie will also soon hold regular workshops in the adjoining community centre covering topics such as zero-waste practices, health and wellbeing, essential oils and cooking classes.
The Source Bulk Foods, The Town Centre Arcade, Katoomba St, Katoomba, is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm Sunday. Further information: thesourcebulkfoods.com.au or https://thesourcebulkfoods.com.au/blog/how-the-source-bulk-foods-is-changing-an-industry-one-plastic-bag-at-a-time/.