Zero Waste Stores: Shopping with the Future in Line
Hearing the word “shopping” thrills some of us and a lot are willing to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars in buying the things that they want such as food, clothes, and many more.
Even figures cannot argue with that. In 2018, statistics show that every U.S. household spent an average of $1,536 on the Christmas holiday which contributed to the milestone of holiday retail sales surpassing $1 trillion, from only $842.37 million in 2014. In 2019, it was even predicted that the numbers will continue to rise and enjoy their 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, the U.S. has accumulated millions of tons of plastics where 75.8% of which goes to landfills (and oceans too). The sad news is that 14 million tons of it is from containers and packaging categories which in general are from the products we buy from stores may it be physical or virtual.
The digits are isolated from one another and it enables us to see some important realization. First, the packaging of the products that we purchase contributes a lot to the totality of the world’s solid wastes and secondly, we are liable to those 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 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 animals and other 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, the concept is also simple. They sell products that are mostly unwrapped with plastics. They encourage buyers to bring reusable containers that can be later on used for the same purposes. They also sell bottles or fabric bags that 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.
Online vs Brick and Mortar Zero Waste Stores
With the ever-expanding virtualization of the world, a typical activity such as shopping is now at our fingertips. Due to this, a dispute arises between online and brick-and-mortar stores.
Brick-and-mortar stores pertain to the stores that have a physical location on which buyers and sellers do transactions face-to-face. They are designed to be visited and to showcase actual products. Meanwhile, online stores also called click stores that do transactions virtually. You do purchases and payments online and products are presented via an application or website.
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 experience and quality.
Both stores may give distinct experiences to buyers, and both can be good or bad. For instance in online zero waste stores, buying and choosing products can be more convenient and may save your 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 that you’ll experience problems on purchases such as shipping of wrong items, scams, defective products, or unrecoverable deliveries. Plus, you will need to have an ample amount of patience as products can be received for several days after shipping them out.
On the contrary, brick-and-mortar stores give 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 the zero-waste lifestyle. The products you purchase can also be brought home in an instant, so waiting is not an issue here.
This means that online shops stores can be less convenient due to the fewer options of these stores at almost every location. Also, you may need more time and before you will receive the products that you have ordered.
Zero waste stores can sell you almost everything, from food to personal kinds of stuff. If there are no zero waste stores near you, doing your transactions online is the brightest solution even if there are instances that you will be encountering problems with the items that you ordered and you will receive. You do not also get to check the quality of the product though sellers may guarantee that your item has good quality as there are risks that what will be delivered are in poor condition.
In addition to that, the variations presented online may be limited as compared to the number of choices you have if you visit a physical store. But, this is a good scenario since the aim is to reduce packaging containers and some products may consume more packaging when shipped than when bought in a brick-and-mortar store.
Another problem is the loose link between logistics and zero waste store owners. Logistics are concerned with the quality of the product, thus, use too many plastics such as bubble wraps in their packaging. Meanwhile, store owners and buyers may want to get rid of those unnecessary packaging but there is a risk that it may affect the quality of the delivered product. Either way, this is a problem that needs attention.
Recommended Zero Waste Stores
Since the birth of the zero waste movement, several zero waste stores continuously pop out in the market, not only holding for-profit enterprises but more importantly, raising their environmental advocacy. Here are lists of top-rated zero waste stores you should visit worldwide.
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.
- 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.
- Gram Malmo. A shop which helps local farmers and markers sell their produce located Master Danielsgatan, Malmo.
- 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, many ways enable 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 apples, oranges, pepper, potatoes, and cucumber. Second, buy eco-friendly shopping bags. A lot of stores still use 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 bags 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 a 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. So worldwide participation is required to lessen, if not, eradicate the negative effects of waste on the world. Sadly, zero waste stores are only accessible in a 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 online. Websites such as World Wildlife Fund have platforms that raise concerns 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. Besides, you may create organizations or participate in existing ones that have similar aims of eradicating unnecessary wastes.
Of course, changing one’s lifestyle is an essential step to kickstart your bigger move for a zero waste store in your location. You should always start by changing your views towards plastics and the environment, and act along with it.
Living zero waste may not be as convenient and easy as you wished it to be. But starting to align your views and practices 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.