Zero Waste Stores: Today’s Shopping is Tomorrow’s Hope
Who doesn’t like shopping?
When it comes to buying the things that we want, such as food, clothes, and many more, some are willing to spend hundreds or even thousands to get what we wish to, and figures can prove 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, these numbers were set to rise and enjoy their momentum. Now here’s the question, is this something of our concern?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorized plastics as a rapidly growing municipal solid waste (MSW). In 2017, the U.S. accumulated several million tons of plastics where 75.8% went to landfills (and oceans too). The sad news is that 14 million tons of it are from containers and packaging from the products we buy from stores, whether physical or virtual.
Those digits enable us to realizes how shopping contributes to harm to the environment. Firstly, the packaging of the products we purchase worsens the totality of the world’s solid wastes. Second, the whole world, including us individuals, contribute to this global problem. To help fix the global shopping waste crisis, there arose a movement towards conscious consumerism. A vital part of that movement —ZERO WASTE STORES.
Zero Waste Stores: A Growing Phenomenon
The first established zero-waste supermarket was in London in the year 2007. Consequently, it became a serious global campaign in 2018. 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, especially straws that poison our sea creatures. From that year on, many stores surged with one aim—end packaging wastes.
Zero-waste stores operate with that aim. The concept is simply selling products that do not have plastic packaging. So, buyers are encouraged to shop with reusable containers. In cases where buyers do not have containers, zero-waste stores also sell bottles or fabric bags. With this scenario, both the store and consumer will accumulate minimal to no waste when selling and purchasing products.
Online vs Brick and Mortar Zero Waste Stores
With everything that can be happening virtually, almost all activity, including shopping, is now one click away. Because of this, a dispute arises between online and brick-and-mortar stores.
Brick-and-mortar stores are those 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. In contrast, online stores, also called click stores that do transactions virtually. Purchases and payments are all online, and products are displayed via an application or website.
Both may support zero-waste stores. It is practical and wise to weigh its broad spectrum of pros and cons. In this article, we will focus on experience and quality.
Both stores may give distinct experiences to buyers, and they can be pleasant or unpleasant. For example, shopping in online zero-waste stores can be more convenient, effortless, and time-saving than 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 portion of items which I think is one of the highlights of zero waste shops.
For online purchases, it is also unavoidable to encounter some problems such as the shipping of wrong items, scams, defective products, or unrecoverable deliveries. Plus, you will need to have ample patience as products would arrive 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 the first-hand experience filling your reusable containers, which makes you enjoy the vibe of advocating the zero-waste lifestyle. You can immediately bring home the products you purchase, so waiting is not an issue here.
Also, scams are unlikely to happen. This means that brick-and-mortar stores can be less convenient due to the fewer options from these stores. Also, you may need more time and before you will receive the products that you have ordered.
Like any other store, zero waste stores can sell you almost everything. From food to personal kinds of stuff, name it. However, if zero waste stores are unavailable at your place, an online transaction is the best solution. Just be prepared for encountering problems with the items you ordered, and you will receive them. 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.
To add, variations of choices between online shopping versus visiting a physical store may differ. Online stores may present a limited array of products than physical stores. 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
As the zero-waste movement continues to move forward, 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.
North America (United States of America and Canada)
- The Source Zero – a zero waste supply store in San Jose, CA.
- 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 that sells fresh produce and other ingredients used in cooking.
- One World Zero Waste. This is an all-organic food store located in Tequesta, Florida.
- Replenish Tahoe -At South Lake Tahoe, California. A boutique refillery that offers package-free personal care items.
- 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.
- Crai’s Eco Point- supermarket chain that sells items in bulk.
- Bottega Origini- Small zero-waste shop in Pavia.
- Pesso Netto – Located in Pesaro and follows local food philosophy.
- Borgo Etico- Packaging free supermarket.
- Verdessenza- An eco-store.
- 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.
- 7 to 9 Green Store. Bittu John was inspired by a zero-waste store in London, thus he built this in Kolencherry, Ernakulam.
- Muditha Zero waste. Located at Hyderabad, due to unavailability of zero-waste store in the area to sustain their zero-waste living, the couple decided to establish this store.
- Bare Necessities- Based on Bengaluru, this store uses cloth scraps, paper scraps, and reusable glass in packaging their goods.
- Kolkata Waste Bazaar- first zero waste store on Kolkata. To reduce carbon footprints, this store sells only upcycled and recycled products.
- Ecoposro: Goa’s First Zero Waste Store- A zero waste store in Konkani caters grocery needs.
- 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.
- Biome- An online store that also has four physical stores throughout Queensland.
- Flora & Fauna- uses plastic-free packaging and products sold are claimed recyclable.
- The Clean Collective- website that offers “toxin-free, waste-less shop and community” to its customers.
- ONYA- online retailer that uses recyclable and compostable packaging in shipping out their products.
- 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 environmentally-friendly products at an affordable price.
- Eco-Living Bali – Based on Kerobokan, stocks plastic-free necessities.
- Nude Foods, Zonnebloem- Sells bulk wholefoods by weight and offers plastic-free shopping.
- Unpacked Pantry, Heathfield- offers fresh produce like milk, yoghurt, and vegetable as well as grains and legumes.
- The Refillery, Fourways- Plastic-free grocery store in Cedar Square.
- Replenish Zero Waste Store, various markets- Can be found around Jo’burg. Sells plastic-free cleaning utensils, toothbrushes, safety razors, etc.
- The Refill Den, Durban North- In Durban, sells reusable paper towel, tiffin tins, refillable bottles of Kalahari salt and natural soaps.
- House of Bravo, Windermere- Fresh food shop in Durban.
- Waste-Not. Located at Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
If not in zero waste stores, how can you shop zero waste?
Zero-waste stores are still small in number compared to ordinary shops that continuously use unnecessary packaging. Other zero-waste lifestyle enthusiasts living in urban may find it hard to buy products both online and at physical stores. Despite this, there are still ways to shop in line with your advocacy, even at local supermarkets.
Firstly, choose items with less or no packaging at all. These may be fruits or vegetables, such as apples, oranges, pepper, potatoes, and cucumber. Next, buy and use eco-friendly shopping bags. Many stores still wrap their goods with plastics. Bringing your 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 do not have a container with you.
Lastly, if possible, buy goods in bulk instead of the conveniently retailed sachet. When you buy in a sachet, you pay more for packaging than the actual content. Buying in large quantities or bulk may sound costly to you, but it’s a money-saver method.
How can you petition for zero waste in your area?
Waste management is a global phenomenon, and it should be a global concern. Worldwide participation is needed to lessen, if not, eradicate the negative effects of waste on the world. Unfortunately, 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. World Wildlife Fund is an organization that has 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 take part in existing ones that have similar aims of eradicating unnecessary wastes.
Most importantly, changing one’s lifestyle is the most vital stepping stone for your bigger move for a zero-waste store in your place. 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. It takes patience and commitment. Start aligning your views and practices, always think about 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.