The NLB Story

The Naked. Local. Bulk. (NLB) story is just a tiny seedling... this is the NLB origin story.... 


NLB hatched from the confluence of many things. A few crucial ones are;

  • the frustration of the limited sustainable food selection in the Pittsburgh area...

  • the cleanliness, staleness, and limited oversight of bulk foods sections in local markets...

  • and general lack of bulk food options available in the region.

The initial nudge to what would become the tipping point towards a truly sustainable and almost zero waste bulk food market (NLB) began sometime in the late 00’s with founding collaborator Marty Smyczek.


The life goal of being truly sustainable, began to take root. Albeit slow and stunted. He casually researched, learned, and progressed into reuse, heavy recycling, eating fresh and healthy, with as limited waste as possible.


The 'nudge' was the discovery of Milk in a returnable glass jug from a small local market. This reminded him of stories past where milk was delivered right to your doorstep; leave the empty jugs out, get full ones in return the next morning. The magic of the Milk Fairy!

From the glass jug he expanded into buying more fresh and package-less items (fruits and vegetables mostly), items in larger bulk quantities (big box stores), and generally things that cost less where you’d get more.



He immersed himself into environmental and sustainable topics while having time on his hands resulting from a layoff. The devastating effects of humanity (himself) on the world around him/us, smashed him in the face with a force equivalent to a punch by Mike Tyson (we won't be fact checking this!). It was something he was not at all prepared for.

This span of time is the catalyst which altered his life path into sustainability.  

While in this mind melt, he looked into how he could start buying items with little or no packaging, no plastic, and storing fresh local food long term. This is when he discovered a bulk food store in the east end of Pittsburgh where he could use his own packaging.

The snowball started to roll from there.



In early-mid spring while taking out a bag of trash, the realization that the bag had been filling for 5 months without being tossed, and without any direct effort to do such a thing, sent his mind spinning. A question hit him; “if i did this in 5 months without trying, how long could i go while putting in a focused effort?

The next bag lasted into 8 months.

After that, he gave up a barrage of things...

- all single use packaging

- cooking meat at home

- all take-out

- all fast food

- and ANY plastic that wasn’t needed


Choosing instead to rely on farmers markets and the bulk food store where he could purchase everything he needed using his own containers.


He also decided to track his waste to see what he was trashing, recycling, reusing, and avoiding, so that he could really crush down on his waste stream.



The new year rang in as he made these changes. When he tossed his next bag of trash out, it was the beginning of 2016. One bag, in one year. Zero waste and sustainable life challenge…game on.  

Using the tracking and knowledge he had gained thus far, he then went 1 year and 8 months with the next bag. Then 2 years and 4 months. Which lands us in the present, and an eye on 3 years + with only tossing out 1 bag of trash. And all through simple one-step-at-a-time changes.



Life has brought many adventures and experiences his way; food markets, food experimentation and storage, managing, sustainable screen printing, organizational & sustainability implementation, art exhibition and sales, design, creative endeavors, and a handful of exploits which all add up to the present moment of; Naked. Local. Bulk.

NLB is a simple idea, but also a massively complex and challenging sustainable venture. As we move along in this journey, the NLB story will really take hold. We hope to meet up with you along this path at NLB one day so we can talk with excitement about where the NLB story is, and where it aims to go in the future!