San Antonians in the market for a more sustainable buying experience will soon be able to turn to a vintage trolley bus for their shopping needs.
Earthen Market, a “mobile refill startup” focused on zero waste and circular economy efforts, will roll out in the Alamo City this spring. Housed in a 2004 Chance Trolley bus similar to those that once filled the streets of downtown San Antonio, Earthen Market will sell a variety of non-perishable bulk foods (oats, flours, pastas, nuts, beans, legumes, dried fruit), as well as refills of personal and household items like shampoo and cleaning products.
At the heart of the Earthen Market philosophy is the effort to significantly reduce consumers’ environmental impact. That’s why owner Jamie Chalk will provide sanitized upcycled jars and containers instead of plastic bags or other non-sustainable materials — all at no cost to customers.
Shoppers can also bring their own containers and pay based only on the weight of the bulk products they purchase. She hopes this will help eliminate the need for single-use and disposable packaging, and has a goal to send no trash to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.
“I have been interested in environmentalism for as long as I can remember, and I have been searching for ways to make a positive impact,” Chalk says in a letter about the business on a crowdfunding site. “Earthen Market answers that calling in my heart. Not only will it be the answer to the struggle to find zero-waste options for myself and my family, but my hope is that it will also put the calling in the hearts of others to live sustainably. We can influence so many lives and help people make more sustainable choices by providing package-free/low-waste shopping in San Antonio, Texas.”
Chalk’s environmental efforts don’t stop with Earthen Market’s offerings. Her trolley will operate on planned routes to reduce emissions, and in an effort to further minimize the business’ ecological footprint, she hopes to convert the vehicle to bio-diesel in the future or acquire an electrical vehicle for deliveries. She also hopes to have the trolley outfitted with solar panels by summer.
Chalk says she’s aiming to roll out her trolley market by March or April, appropriately shooting for having the market open by Earth Day, April 22. Its mobile capabilities will allow her to provide zero-waste grocery shopping throughout town at farmers markets, housed locations, and planned delivery routes, while also enabling Chalk to target underserved areas of San Antonio.
“Many areas of town have little to no access to healthy, sustainable options, and we can help solve that problem,” she says in a recent social media post. “As the owner, I have been passionate about ecology since I was a little girl. I have been searching for a way to make a difference in the way that we, as a society, treat our environment and nature. We can make a difference.”