The Benefits of Zero Waste Shops

Most major retailers have at this stage implemented changes in how they operate in order to minimize waste and limit the environmental damage they each contribute to. However unless the shop defines itself by strict guidelines around sustainability and goes the extra mile to prove its efforts, then there is usually more that it could be doing.

Zero waste shops are a relatively recent movement that has come about to show that physical stores can still exist and thrive without adding to the earth’s problems. Afterall, online shopping isn’t without its downsides either. But as the general population becomes more wise to today’s environmental issues, an increasing number are choosing to seek out a dedicated alternative to buy their goods from instead.

With shops reopened after the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s an opportunity to support small, zero waste businesses that are helping to make a difference, instead of rushing back to supermarkets that thrived throughout the pandemic.

What is a zero waste shop?

A zero waste shop enables customers to live a more zero waste lifestyle through eliminating packaging and encouraging the use of containers from home to fill and refill with bulk wholefoods, natural beauty and cleaning products plus much more. These supplies are stored and displayed in a variety of dispensers throughout the shop, making for an experience which has been seen to have an old-world feel, but with a fun modern twist.

There is now estimated to be around 200 zero waste shops throughout the UK, meaning that it is still a growing trend. However you can use this website to locate a zero waste shop near your vicinity.

What are the benefits of zero waste shops?

We’ve described the differences in a zero waste shop, but in a practical sense how do these help the earth and ourselves, as consumers, at the end of the day? Here are a few of the reasons to use zero waste shops.

  1. They cut out the packaging. As already mentioned, this key factor is what makes zero waste shops so special. Products aren’t sold individually wrapped; and so all of the excess cardboard and plastic that would usually come home with a shopping trip and end up not recycled is swapped for either our own repurposed containers or else glass jars and paper bags available in the shop.
  2. Less food goes to waste. Since shoppers can weigh out the exact quantity of ingredients they need, they aren’t obligated to buy predetermined portions of food which may be partly thrown out. This also means that you are only paying for what you really need, such as when creating a one-off recipe, and therefore saving money from the set prices in grocery shops.
  3. Buying in bulk is more appealing. If you know there’s something you’re going to get through a lot of and need to regularly top up, then you can bulk buy the raw produce from a zero waste shop and save yourself many repeat trips. This will reduce the frequency of your shopping overall, meaning less carbon emissions if you take your car each time, and save yourself valuable time too.
  4. Help with leading a healthier lifestyle. Buying from a zero waste shop isn’t just about the amount of food you need, but what it is you’re eating. Supermarkets give us endless options for processed foods whether it be sugar and fat-filled snacks or not-very-nutritious ready made meals. Zero waste shops supply wholesome, often locally sourced ingredients to create healthier dishes from ourselves. They’re a great means of cutting out the junk food and forcing yourself to get more imaginative with your cooking!

For more about living a zero waste life and what it could do for you, check out this article. And from Re-Gen Waste Management, here are 5 ways to use less packaging.