DURHAM, N.C. — According to the Environmental Protection Agency, plastic and other packaging make up around 30% of the United States’ garbage every year, and only 9% of the plastic waste is recycled.

One store in Durham is working to change that by offering a more sustainable way to shop.


What You Need To Know

Plastic and other packaging make up around 30% of the United States’ garbage every year

Part & Parcel is a package-free store that opened in Durham in March of 2021

The store also offers inclusive employment and is run by the Autism Support and Advocacy Center


When you walk into Part & Parcel you’ll notice scales, bins full of food and a lot of glass jars. All of that is done intentionally in order to help reduce the amount of packaging that goes into landfills every year.

“There’s a lot of intentionality with sourcing this way, and there’s a lot of intentionality shopping this way. It takes a certain pace and that’s pretty cool,” T Land, the executive director of the Autism Support and Advocacy Center, said.

Part & Parcel opened in March of 2021. “We are a package-free store whose mission is to provide lower waste shopping options for the Durham community and help folks reduce waste in their house,” Land said.

When Land isn’t restocking inventory, they’re filling online pickup orders with everything from pantry essentials to cleaning supplies to salty snacks. If a customer doesn’t bring their own containers, the store has free upcycled glass jars that have all been cleaned and sanitized.

“Either we have weighed them in advance or the customer weighs their own jars when they come in so we know exactly what to take away. What I’m doing on the calculator is putting in how much it weighs and removing the weight of the jar and then only charging for that weight,” Land said.

“It takes a little extra time to do the process but the store is kind of going against the systems that our society says are how we’re supposed to be — like really fast paced and ultra-convenient and throw away,” Land said.

They keep track of the number of jars they fill, potentially the same amount of packages they may have prevented from ending up in a landfill. “We actually count every jar that we use. For 2021, it was 6,592,” Land said.

Part & Parcel is also an example of inclusive employment. The store is run by the nonprofit Autism Support and Advocacy Center. “There’s so much to learn from each other and we want everyone to see that here that there’s power in neurodiversity,” Land said.

Whether it’s the impact on the environment or the way society views neurodiversity, there’s one common theme through it all. “We want to be a part of change. We want to be part of goodness in our community and cultivate that,” Land said.

Land says they have been received really well and they’re confident they’ll expand. Part & Parcel currently carries more than 20 local products and they are planning to add refrigerated items in the future.

Land doesn’t describe Part & Parcel as a “zero waste” store. However, the entire store only had enough garbage to fill up one five-gallon trash can last year.

In order to make sustainable shopping accessible to everyone, the store does accept SNAP and EBT.