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Zero Waste Stores: Shopping with the Future in Line Shopping with the Future in Line
Shopping. Hearing this sure make us thrilled, and a lot are willing to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars, for a number of goods such as food and clothing.
Even figures cannot argue with that. In 2018, statistics shows that every U.S. household spent an average of $1,536 on Christmas holiday, which contributed to the milestone of holiday retail sales surpassing $1 trillion, from only $842.37 million in 2014. This year (2019), it was even predicted that the numbers will continue to rise and enjoy its momentum. Now here’s the question. Is this something of our concern?
The answer is yes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorized plastics as a rapidly growing municipal solid waste (MSW). In 2017, U.S. has accumulated millions of tons of plastics where 75.8% of which goes to landfills (and oceans, too). The sad news is this: 14 million tons of it are from containers and packaging category. Which, in general, are from the products we buy from stores—physical or virtual.
While the digits can be viewed isolate with one another, it opened us to some important realizations: First, the packaging from the products we purchase contributes a lot to the totality of the world’s solid wastes; and secondly, we are liable to that global risks. To patch that, a movement was introduced—ZERO WASTE STORES.
Zero Waste Stores: A Growing Phenomenon
It was in 2007 when the first zero waste supermarket, Unpacked, opened in London. But it was only in 2018 when it became a serious global campaign. The catalyst for this significant, and probably one of the biggest moves to protect the environment, is the rising stress on waste management issues from plastics that suffocate our animal species, and straws that poison our sea creatures. From that year on, many stores surged with one aim—end packaging wastes.
Zero waste stores live with that aim. Their concept is also simple. They sell products, mostly produce, unwrapped with unnecessary plastics. Instead, they encourage buyers to bring reusable containers which can be later on used for same purposes. They also sell bottles or fabric bags, which can still be used further, just in case buyers do not have containers with them. Because of this, the stores and buyers will accumulate minimal to no waste at all when purchasing products from the said stores.
Some zero waste stores also adhere to other societal advocacies. One of which is through supporting local farmers. Through the movement, they can have lesser chances of gaining too much needless plastics used in “preserving freshness” of produce from larger industries. They also share the ideals local farmers live for at the same time.
Online vs Brick and Mortar Zero Waste Stores
With the ever expanding “virtualization” of the world, typical activities such as shopping is now at our fingertips. Due to this, a dispute arises between online and brick-and-mortar stores. First, let us define them.
Brick-and-mortar stores pertain to the stores that has a physical location on which buyer and seller do transactions face-to-face. They are designed to be visited and to showcase actual products. Meanwhile, online stores, also called click stores, do transactions virtually. You do purchases and payments online. And products are presented via an app or website. While both may support zero waste stores, it is practical and wise to weigh its wide spectrum of pros and cons. In this article, we will focus on two—experience and quality.
Both stores may give distinct experiences to buyers, and both can be good or bad. For instance in online zero wastes stores, buying and choosing products can be more convenient and may save you time and effort than going to physical stores. They also offer quick and hassle-free returns of both products and payments, just in case issues arise. However, that same idea hampers your personalized experience of buying at a zero waste store. Since most physical stores are self-service, you’ll miss backing for your own portion of items, which, I think, is one of the highlights of zero waste shops. There are also chances you’ll experience problems on purchases such as shipping of wrong item, scams, defective products, or unreceived deliveries. Plus, you will have to have an ample amount of patience, as products can be received for several days after ship out.
On the contrary, brick-and-mortar stores gives you the luxury to walk at stalls and be entertained with your queries through a store representative. You also get to experience filling your reusable container, which makes you enjoy the vibe of advocating to zero waste lifestyle. The products you purchase can also be brought home at an instant, so waiting is not an issue here. However, in contrast with online shops, going to brick and mortar stores can be less convenient due to the fewer options of this stores at almost every location. You may also need to allot more time and effort to get to the store.
Zero waste stores can sell you almost everything, from food to personal stuff. If there are no zero waste stores near you, doing your transactions online is the brightest solution. There’s a problem, though, as choices and quality of products is in line. For instance, variations presented online may be limited as compared to the number of choices you have if you visit a physical store. This is the scenario since the aim is to reduce packaging containers, and there are products that may consume more packaging when shipped than when bought in a brick-and-mortar store. You do not also get to check the quality of the product. And though sellers may guarantee quality and client satisfaction, there are risks that what will be delivered are in poor condition.
Another problem is the lose link between logistics and zero waste store owners. Logistics are concerned with the quality of the product, thus, uses too much plastics such as bubble wraps in their packaging. Meanwhile, store owners and buyers, may want to get rid of those unnecessary packaging, but may affect quality of the delivered product. Either way, this is a problem yet to be solved.
Recommended Zero Waste Stores
Since its birth, a number of zero waste stores continuously pops-out in the market, not only holding for profit competitions, but more importantly raising their environmental campaign. Here are lists of top-rated zero waste stores you should visit in your area.
United States of America
- The Zero Shop. A shop that supports low waste lifestyle in Capitola, California which sells home goods.
- Package Free. A store selling home goods in Brooklyn, New York. Among their products are fabric, toiletries and kitchen utensils.
- Zero Waste Daniel. Also located in Brooklyn New York, this store sells sustainable, eco-friendly, and handmade unisex apparel.
- Zero Waste Emporium. Located in Victoria, BC, Canada, Zero Waste Emporium is a grocery store which sells fresh produce and other ingredients used in cooking.
- One World Zero Waste. This is an all organic food store located at Tequesta, Florida.
- Hetu – Vegan Zero Waste Store. A store which sells whole foods and is located at St. John’s Hill, London.
- BYO Ltd. This store allows buyers to bring their own containers for their food and household products. It is located in Tooting, London.
- Natural Weigh. A health food store located in Crickhowell, United Kingdom.
- Harmless. A vegan plastic-free grocery store in London.
- Earth.Food.Love. A little shop that sells spices and whole grains which are organic, plant-based, and gluten-free located at Totnes, United Kingdom.
- Gram Malmo. A shop which helps local farmers and markers sell their produce located Master Danielsgatan, Malmo.
- The Zero Waste House. An eco-conscious and zero-waste boutique in Paris, France.
- Brilliant. An e-shop for zero waste based in Ionnina, Greece.
- kaufs-lose. Also regarded as Marburg’s first crowdfunding unpacked shop located at Biegenstrabe 17, Marburg.
- Dr. Pogo. One of Berlin’s first zero waste shops located at Karl Marx Platz, Berlin. The store sells vegan food, cosmetics, pet food, household supplies and accessories.
- day by day. One of the most known shops in Europe which has over 20 physical stores. They sell bulk groceries and can be found at various locations such as in Brussels, Bordeaux, Lille, Paris, Metz, Reims, Dieppe, Tours, and many more.
- Ecoindian. A newly launched online organic grocery. They also have a physical store at Dr Ranga Road, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
- Adrish Zero Waste Organic Store. Located in Pune, Maharashtra, this shop also sells organic food without using unnecessary packaging.
- Green Mantra. A supermarket based in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
- The Bulk House. This is China’s first zero waste social enterprise where purchases are made online or at a physical store.
- The Source Bulk Foods. With over 30 stores, this shop is focused on providing purchases which are packaging-free.
- Eco Conscious Fiji. An online store which sells a variety of products and is based in Fiji.
South East Asia
- The Hive Bulk Foods. This is an online shop that has bulk foods, toiletries, household products and skincare. They ship to Malaysia and Singapore but is originally based in Lorong Maarof, Bangsar Park, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- UnPackt. A zero waste shop located in Jin Kuras, Singapore which operated starting May 2018.
- Humble Market. An eco-friendly home and body shop located in Mandaluyong City, Philippines.
- Happy Earth Store. A package-free grocery store located in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. They sell coffee, tea, baking products, grains and seeds.
- Zero Waste Thailand. A shop that offers zero waste kits and other environmental-friendly products at an affordable price.
If not in zero waste stores, how can you shop zero waste?
Zero wastes stores fall short in number as compared to ordinary shops that continuously use unnecessary packaging. Even living in urban, other zero waste lifestyle enthusiasts may find it hard to buy products both online and at physical stores. Despite this, there are variety of ways that can allow you to shop with your advocacy, even at local supermarkets.
First, choose items with less or no packaging at all. These may be fruits or vegetables, such as apple, oranges, pepper, potatoes, and cucumber. Second, buy eco-friendly shopping bags. A lot of stores still uses plastics to wrap sold goods. Bringing your own reusable bag can help lessen the amount of waste from those plastics. Most stores now offer reusable bag as an option, so you might as well do that if you really do not have a container with you. Lastly, as much as possible, buy bulk items instead of retailed sachets. When you buy in sachets, you actually pay more for packaging than the actual content. Buying in bulk or at larger quantity may seem more costly, but you actually save more when you do so.
How can you petition for zero waste in your area?
Waste management is a global phenomenon, therefore, worldwide participation is required to lessen, if not eradicate the negative effects of it to the world. Sadly, zero waste stores are only accessible in few locations. But that does not limit the participation of many to take part in that environmental concern.
If there is a need to strengthen zero waste in your area, you can sign a petition at international forums via the worldwide web. Websites such as wwf.panda.org have platforms that raises concern and petition to end the use of plastics and start saving the oceans. You can also create linkages to the local government unit or local officials which may help you bring the need for zero waste. In addition, you may create organizations or participate in existing ones, which has similar aims of eradicating unnecessary wastes.
Of course, changing one’s lifestyle is an essential step to kick-start your bigger move for a zero waste in your location. You should always start by changing your views towards plastics and the environment, and act along with it.
Supporting zero waste store movements may not be as convenient as you wished it to be. But starting to align your views and deeds with that aim will eventually create favorable impacts now and in the future. Those practices will soon become norms, and that norm will soon be a culture shared by all.