How to Shop at a Zero Waste Store
If you’re trying to reduce your waste, shopping at a zero waste store is the perfect way to do it. But you might be wondering how to shop at a zero waste store.
After all, when you walk inside one, things are going to look a little different. You won’t see rows and rows of perfectly packaged items waiting for you to take them off the shelf.
Instead, you’ll likely see scales, large bottles, and big containers of what you need. The good news is that shopping at a zero waste store is actually very easy. Even better, it can often save you money!
This helpful guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how to shop at a zero waste store.
What Is a Zero Waste Store?
First thing first, let’s discuss just what a zero waste store actually is. Zero waste stores are where you can buy package-free household and personal care items. The goals of a zero waste store are to help you reduce the amount of single-use plastics you use, make it easy for you to cut down on your waste, and help you switch to more sustainable and eco-friendly products.
While zero waste stores are growing in popularity around the world, not all communities currently have them. Fortunately, if you don’t have a local zero waste store, you can also shop at some of the best online zero waste shops to enjoy all of the same benefits as a brick and mortar store.
Bring Your Own Bags and Bottles
The most important thing to remember when you’re ready to shop at a zero waste store is that you need to bring your own bags and bottles. Instead of choosing prepackaged items off the shelf, you’ll fill up your own containers with everything you need.
Not only does this help you cut down on the amount of packaging you have to throw away, but it also makes it easy for you to get as much or as little of every item as you need.
I’ve found that this mason jar size is very convenient for most of the items I need to purchase. Don’t forget you can also reuse jars you already have at home. In my experience, pasta sauce jars and salsa jars are also convenient options to use.
Related: How to Easily Remove Labels From Glass Jars
If you’ll be doing zero waste grocery shopping and picking out fruits, vegetables, grains, pastas, teas, or anything like that, you’ll also need to bring along some reusable produce bags.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Zero Waste Grocery Shopping
I’ve found that these organic cotton reusable produce bags work the best. (Also, check out this post if you’re wondering why I only recommend using organic cotton.)
These bags are thick enough to hold heavy fruits and vegetables and to prevent loose grains from leaking. They also come with a tare weight tag sewn on the outside, which makes checkout super easy.
If you’re shopping from bulk bins, you simply use a washable marker to write the UPC or bin number directly on the bag. When you get home, transfer your purchase to an airtight container and wash the bag so it’s ready for your next trip.
Use the Scale
Before you start shopping, you’ll need to weigh your empty containers using one of the scales in the zero waste store. Simply put your container on the scale and use a marker to write the weight on the container.
When you’re ready to check out, the sales associate will weigh your container and deduct the container weight from the total. This way, you’re only paying for the weight of the product inside your container and not the container itself.
Some of the zero waste stores I’ve shopped at also sell empty containers with their tare weights already calculated and written down. You can purchase one of these while you’re at the shop and simply bring it back again and again to get what you need.
Don’t Forget Your Shopping Bags
Since the goal of zero waste stores is to reduce the need for single-use plastics as much as possible, your purchases won’t be packed up in any plastic shopping bags. That means it’s important to remember to bring your reusable shopping bags.
I think these reusable shopping bags are a great option because they fold up into small pouches that you can easily keep in your purse or your car. That way, you know you won’t forget them. It doesn’t hurt that these bags also come in a variety of really cute designs!
If you do happen to forget your shopping bags, I have noticed that some stores carry paper bags they can put your items in. Many stores also sell their own reusable bags you can purchase while you’re there.
Shopping for Other Zero Waste Products
In addition to bulk items, zero waste stores typically carry other household essentials and some of the best zero waste products for beginners. At my local zero waste shop, I can get reef-safe sunscreen.
For my bathroom, I can pick up zero waste toothpaste, eco-friendly dental floss, and blades for my safety razor. Reusable straws and beeswax food wrap are also popular items at zero waste stores.
Even if you’re not ready to shop, I encourage you to stop by your local zero waste store to look around. You never know what you might discover!
Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed when I shop at a zero waste store, it’s that the sales associates are always friendly and willing to help out with any questions I have. The first time you go to a zero waste store, don’t be afraid to mention that you’re new to zero waste shopping and you might need some help.
Once you get used to the idea of bringing your refillable containers and weighing your products, you’ll see that zero waste shopping is pretty much exactly like regular shopping.
Shopping at a Zero Waste Store
Cutting back on waste is an important part of fighting global warming and climate change. With these helpful tips, you now know how to shop at a zero waste store so you can take those first steps toward cutting back on your waste.
More Helpful Zero Waste Tips
Now that you see how easy it is to shop at a zero waste store, are you interested in making more zero waste swaps in your life? Then be sure to check out these other excellent posts:
- How to Plan a Zero Waste Disney Vacation
- Easy Ways to Reduce Paper Towel Use
- Simple Swaps for a Zero Waste Bathroom
- How to Create a Zero Waste Laundry Room