Zero-Waste Stores: A Sustainable Way to Shop

zero waste

The average consumer knows that buying in bulk at big box stores can be a very cost-effective way to shop. Even better, zero-waste stores are a great alternative for those seeking money-saving “green” options — including items in bulk. Though at first it may seem more expensive to buy in bulk, stocking up on often-used goods is actually less demanding on your wallet in the long run.

Things like grains, pasta, and spices, for example, are perfect for bulk buys. Some zero-waste stores even offer recycling and services for hard-to-dispose of items such as batteries. While there are several online stores to choose from, there are also quite a few brick-and-mortar outlets sprinkled throughout the U.S. that allow customers to bring their own containers (clear jars) for refills and mesh bags for vegetables.

Among some of the items zero-waste stores sell include oral care products, dish soap, laundry, oils, hair care, tea, seeds, herbs and spices, grains, and dried fruit. Kitchen supplies like dish scrubbers, cloths, and silicone baking mats are other sourced products. ZeroWasteStore, an online retailer, has an enormous selection of zero-waste merchandise to choose from. Here, you can shop for makeup, cleaning products, haircare, baby care, and eco-friendly pet products — just to name a few. Who couldn’t use an underarm detox bar, a tongue scraper to help remove bacteria, or plantable pencils that will eventually grow into a sunflower or a carnation?

Colorado-based EcoRoots donates 1% of its profits to Ocean Conservancy, and ships merchandise using reusable and recycled biodegradable materials. The company donates a portion of annual sales towards sustainability initiatives and organizations that give back to the planet. Another popular store, also based out of Colorado, is EarthHero which sells unique items such as reusable tissue packs with a separate silicone barrier for sanitary storage, and beeswax food wraps. Described as an “eco-friendly solution to disposables,” RemiUsable sells things like reusable mop pads, non-paper towels and napkins, sponges, sandwich bags, and coffee filters. Everything is washable, fully fabric-based, and sent in recycled or compostable mailers.

Also, there are several companies that sell “plantable” items. Etsy, for example, sells plantable calendars, pens and pencils, greeting cards, and more. It’s a wonderful way to repurpose something into a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

By avoiding plastic-wrapped packages, the reduction in trash output could increase by 80%, meaning less plastic ends up in landfills and oceans. Here’s another simple way to break the cycle of buying, using, and throwing away: borrow before you buy. Begin by loaning out what you have. Neighbors sharing tools such as power washers and leaf blowers could be a start and may evolve into a type of community effort. The more you lend, the less money spent on items that will one day be trashed. Anyone can rehome, recycle, and repurpose useless junk into something purposeful.

-Sharon Oliver

Photo: Hannahdobrott via Wikimedia Commons



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