Living a zero-waste lifestyle gets a little easier when you have the right, sustainable resources available at your fingertips. Whether you’re lucky enough to live near a big city where you can find a sustainable shop that offers in-bulk purchases and plastic-free packaging, or you make your eco-friendly buys online, knowing where to go is always the first step.
If you are new to shopping at zero-waste stores, grab a reusable tote and read up on what you can expect. For starters, most zero-waste stores have a variety of items, spanning from beauty and wellness to home goods and clothes to the low-impact bathroom and kitchen essentials you’ll need. What sets these stores apart as “zero waste”? For the most part, the items in zero-waste stores are made with quality, healthy, and non-toxic ingredients and have plastic-free packaging that is either recyclable, reusable, refillable, or compostable.
What else will you find at a zero-waste store? Of course, it depends on the store, but you might also find items that are largely locally sourced: soaps, candles, plants, and even jewelry that is made nearby by local artisans. Most zero-waste stores are also small businesses, so it’s possible that the owner makes some of the items and works behind the register, too. Apart from being environmentally friendly, shopping at your local zero-waste store can also be a great way to meet like-minded people who care about the planet and this lifestyle as much as you do.
Want to know where to shop zero waste? Keep reading for online stores and brick-and-mortar zero-waste stores by city.
While Buffalo Exchange isn’t technically a zero-waste store, it is a popular second-hand chain where people can buy, sell, and trade clothing.
Value Village is another Atlanta-based thrift store, toted as the city’s largest thrift department store. Since opting for second-hand is always the more sustainable option than buying new, it might be a good idea to check out these local thrift stores before assessing other options.
If you’re looking to stock up on grocery, body care, and household cleaning products in bulk, shops like Central Market, H-E-B, and Wheatsville Co-ops have large bulk aisles to choose from. Sprouts farmers’ market also sells groceries, vitamins and body care, beer and wine, and in bulk.
You can also check out the Austin Reuse Directory to search for local spots to drop off, buy secondhand, rent, or repair something.
Like most co-ops, the City Market/Onion River Co-op in Burlington, Vermont offers a bulk department for spices, oils, cereals, rice, pasta, flour, grains, beans, nuts, and more. Just bring your own container to fill up and record the tare weight.
At Healthy Living Market, you can bulk up (literally) on more than just food. Non-toxic home cleaning products from Common Good are available, as well as in-bulk foods and on-tap kombucha.
Natural Provisions is another great zero-waste, bulk store in Burlington to try it. You can get everything from bulk food to baking supplies, as well. Even pre-cooked foods can be purchased using your own container.
With two locations — one in Brookline and one in Dedham — the Boston General Store sells everything from zero-waste kits for cleaning, shopping, and traveling to bulk kitchen and bathroom essentials.
In Reno, Nev., Black Rock Refill is fighting plastic pollution with its plastic-free refill services and various reusable body care, skincare, cleaner, and food storage items. Black Rock also has its own recycling program in conjunction with Terracycle, allowing customers to drop off non-recyclable items – items not traditionally recycled – so that these items do not end up in a landfill. The drop-off location for these non-recyclable items, however, is not Black Rock Refill; they can be dropped off at McKinley Arts & Culture Center at the Riverside Farmers Market.
The Refillery is a mobile refill station that traverses LA. Here’s how it works: You schedule a no-contact appointment and The Refillery mobile shows up on a house call to refill any products you might need more of. You can either use your own containers or purchase one at the station and refills are sold by the ounce. The Refillery carries everything from home goods and laundry essentials to personal care and pet items.
Based in LA, Refill Evolution is a female-owned business that refills everyday essentials. All of the brands they carry are eco-friendly, cruelty-free, non-toxic, biodegradable, and use natural fragrances (essential oils).
Sustain LA is another women-owned business that offers pick-up, delivery, and contact-free appointments. Offering zero-waste living options and events, Sustain has a refill station and also offers rentals and zero-waste party planners for big parties.
According to Verde Market, their way is the sustainable way of life. You can get just about anything your heart desires in bulk here: grains, nuts, seeds, and snacks and even superfoods like bee pollen, spirulina, cacao, and maca. Liquids like oils, vinegars, honey, and orange juice are also available in bulk and you’ll also find package-free dog treats, cleaning supplies, body care items, and candles.
New York has a Package Free in Brooklyn and also one in Chelsea, though both seem to be closed right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Package Free is a large zero-waste company though, so despite New York’s two locations being closed right now, you can still order online. Package Free specializes in pre-made zero-waste kits, but also offers all kinds of products in the living, health and beauty, and on the go categories.
Simple Good became Long Island’s first zero-waste shop when it first opened in Port Jefferson, Long Island in 2019. You’ll find everything from clothes and accessories, non-toxic candles, and home goods to baby and kid’s items and on-the-go essentials for your everyday zero-waste kit. They also offer events and classes that are open to the public.
A sustainable clothing shop in Brooklyn, Zero Waste Daniel sells sustainable clothing and accessories that are handmade from recycled materials. Think American Apparel but without the harmful, fast fashion practices. ZWD offers swimwear, activewear, denim, tops, bottoms, accessories, and more.
A women-owned business, Eco Collective has a ton of zero-waste categories to pick from: bulk, on the go, home, wellness and beauty, and office and school. During coronavirus, they’re also selling handmade, upcycled fabric face masks along with matching hair scrunchies.
Need some zero-waste laundry essentials? A rice straw broom for the kitchen? A vegan shave bar for him and compostable dental floss for you? Seattle’s PUBLIC has every zero-waste item you could think of — plus all the things you probably haven’t thought of. They also offer refills of just about everything — including their powder deodorant, cedar balls, toothpaste, activated charcoal, and more.
For items to make the cut at The Recology Store, they must meet at least one of the store’s essential five criteria: be made from recyclable material, locally made, designed to replace disposables, upcycled, and/or provide education about waste reduction. At The Recology Store, you’ll find popular zero-waste brands like Abeego, Sweedish Dishcloth, Stasher, Uncle Harrys, Emily’s Handmade Soaps, Wood Razors, Hydroflask, Liberty Bottle, Hydaway, Rewilder, West Paw, Le Parfait, Bluapple, and Blueavocado.
Scoop Marketplace is a zero-waste grocery store that allows customers to bring their own reusable containers and buy in bulk. In addition to package-free groceries, you’ll also find home goods and personal care products.
Mom’s has a BYOC — bring your own container policy — and also brings attention to ingredient watch lists that include banned food ingredients and “shady” body care ingredients to be wary of. Apart from its Washington, D.C. location, Mom’s Organic Market can also be found in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Online Zero-Waste Stores
While most of the aforementioned zero-waste stores have online shops as well, we’d be remiss to exclude some web-based zero-waste stores that are conscious of their carbon footprint and make ordering sustainable products all the more convenient.
Common Goods is an online store powered by Shopify that offers safe, green, and refillable soaps and cleaners that work just as well as the conventional stuff. Scented with 100 percent pure essential oils and formulated with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients, each item comes in either glass bottles or refillable packaging.
Though based in Brooklyn, The Wally Shop's mission is to bring zero-waste groceries to people all over the country. Their vision is to help consumers shop for everything — from bulk dry goods, to beauty products and home goods and just about everything in between — without the waste that we've accepted as the norm.
Earth Hero supplies just about all zero-waste items you can imagine. From school and office supplies to plant-based chargers and battery packs, you’ll find popular brands like Nimble, the Saalt cup, Rackle, Conscious Step, Elate Cosmetics, Stasher, Plaine Products, Albatross, and more.
New to the Net Zero Company’s website are the zero-waste baker’s bundle, silicone baking cups, a green cleaning starter kit, and the shop and store set. You’ll find more than just sustainable kitchen essentials on Net Zero; items fall into reusable self-care, cooking and storage, bundles, and eating, drinking, and cleaning categories.
Some of Package Free’s most well-rated items on its website include beeswax food wraps, premium safety razors, and glass and cork coffee cups. But that’s not all you’ll find on the online store. They specialize in zero-waste kits – starter kits, on the go kits, personal care kits, oral hygiene kits, and even specialty kits for new parents, pet parents, cocktail lovers, and ocean advocates.
Based in Australia, Seed and Sprout won Green Online Retailer of the year. The website’s interactive interface also allows you to shop by swaps: So, you can click the single-use, disposable items you’re trying to avoid or get rid of – cling wrap, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and/or containers – and the site will direct you to the perfect sustainable swap for that particular item.