The retail industry continues to take steps towards reducing its environmental footprint, however many are concerned that it isn’t moving fast enough.
While many retailers, particularly the supermarket giants, are currently focusing on their recycling efforts, unfortunately recycling just isn’t enough. Inside Retail found that in Australia alone, only 11.8% of the 3.5 million tonnes of plastics consumed in 2016-2017 were recycled. This is why many customers are already taking matters into their own hands by shopping at what have become known as zero-packaging shops or zero-waste grocery stores.
Zero-packaging shops allow customers to bring and refill their own containers. This gives the customer complete control over how little or much they need and eliminates a huge amount of packaging along the way.
These stores are well and truly disrupting the way that we have traditionally shopped for food. Rather than wrapping and cling-filming each individual item, these stores are proving that food can still be bought and kept fresh without the need to create layers of packaging to go with it. Many of these stores also source their food and materials locally, which is great news for local producers.
Here are some Australian zero-packaging stores we think you should know about if you’re looking for ways to reduce the amount of waste you accumulate from your weekly grocery shop.
The Source Bulk Foods is one of the leaders of the zero-waste initiative in Australia. Their stores can be found across the country as well as in New Zealand and the UK. Source Bulk Foods offer a wide range from home, food and laundry products. They are known for their range of native Australian bush foods, spices and organic items. Some of their favourite products include Epsom salts, cacao butter, magnesium chloride and nutritional yeast.
Image Source: Hunterhunter
Refillery provide zero-waste alternatives for cleaning and beauty products. They are passionate about providing refillable products that look after both families and the planet. All of their shampoo, conditioner, home cleaners and soaps are sustainable, plant-based, 100% Vegan and Grey-water Safe, making them a great choice for individuals or families who are conscious about not only the packaging they use, but the product inside as well.
Image Source: Refillery
Alfalfa House is quite unique in the fact that it is a community-driven, not-for-profit co-op owned by its members. The store, which dates back to 1981, promotes ethical wholefoods (often direct from the farmers) including organic and genetically modified-free foods. Their range extends from food to personal care and household cleaners. If you happen to forget your containers, Alfalfa House has a small number of donated jars that you can use as well. The store has a real cozy, community vibe and proudly supports local start-ups and artisan producers. Members of the co-operative receive a 10% discount, or alternatively volunteers receive a 25% discount.
Image source: Altmedia
Scoop Whole Foods provides pure organic and natural bulk wholefoods. As the name suggests, you BYO container and scoop away to your heart’s content. They aim to showcase the best local and organic wholefoods from different regions in Australia, giving customers the opportunity to support local growers. They predominantly sell basic bulk items such as rice, grains and seeds, however also sell a small range of personal care items including bentonite clay. At the moment they have stores in NSW the ACT, however we wouldn’t be surprised if more are on their way.
Image source: https://www.timeout.com/sydney/shopping/scoop-wholefoods
Naked Foods likes to live by the slogan “taking it off” and encourages customers to follow suit by eliminating processed foods and excess packaging from their lives. They provide basic and specialty goods such as flours, nuts, oils and snacks, as well as unpackaged soaps for you and your laundry. Naked Foods do provide brown paper bags if you require, however offer customers a 5% discount if they bring their own containers and/or jars along. They currently have 18 stores in Australia and are looking to open even more.
Image source: The Weekend Edition
This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it just goes to show that there are a lot more zero-waste / zero-packaging stores out there than you may think. Zero-waste shopping is becoming a way of life for many customers and is only set to become more popular.
These stores demonstrate that for a small price of convenience, it is possible for the industry to make big changes. While many of these stores are currently still small and ‘niche’, it’s only a matter of time before they become more accessible and offer a greater range of products.
It is also important to note that many of these stores aren’t necessarily cheap, which makes it hard if you’ve got a lot of mouths to feed. Hopefully as these stores increase in scale, or alternatively the larger supermarkets introduce zero-packaging options (the fruit and vegetable section could be a good place to start), it will only get cheaper.
Understandably, you can’t find everything you need at these zero-packaging stores, but even if it means heading to one of them every few weeks for essentials like pasta, flower, nuts and washing detergent, every little effort is a step towards embracing a better way to shop.