Zero waste shopping around the world!
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It is possible to do zero waste shopping or at least plastic free/plastic reduced shopping all around the world.
Farmers markets are a common sight everywhere, bulk stores are common in many countries too.
On top of that, there are more and more Zero Waste Stores popping up everywhere…
From Berlin, Toronto, Bangkok, Bali, etc…
Ambitious people who want to cut plastic and waste out of the daily life, are opening Zero Waste Stores around the Globe.
At least in bigger Cities you might find a Zero Waste Store or a Bulk Store to buy unpackaged goods and bring your reusable bags and jars.
Since I am living low waste I’ve been to many Countries and Cities. I experienced that it’s possible to avoid a lot of plastic everywhere. Even if there is no zero waste store around.
I will show you some of the stores I visited so far on this site, also I will share some search engines where you can easily find a bulk store or zero waste store close to you.
If you don’t have one in your city yet have a look at my article here about some tips and tricks how to avoid plastic packaging in a normal supermarket.
If there is no Zero Waste Shop in your town (yet) you can also order some things online. (Even if you might get a reusable cup in a plastic wrap, just imagine how many single use cups you will refuse in the future.)
Even nuts, grains, dried fruits, etc can be ordered online without plastic in some stores.
For my german follower: there is one german online store where I bought nuts, dates, grains in paper bags at the mein-müsli-laden store. Try it out…
There are zero waste online shops like life-without-plastic who will send your orders plastic free ( no food, only other items).
With other online shops like Etsy or amazon or any other make sure to write to the retailer and request no plastic wrapping, ask them to use alternatives like paper… Some conventional shops are really supportive when it comes to reducing plastic, others don’t. (Just don’t be too disappointed if there still comes plastic with your delivery. This is something you can try to request but can not control. )
How to find unpackaged options:
When I arrived in Tallinn, Estonia, I couldn´t find a bulk store online at first (actually I found two, but its been a bulk-store for alcohol (in bottles) and one for cigarettes;) so I thought it might help you and me to get a list together with markets, shops and informations for plastic free travels.
There are also a few great apps, location finder for Zero Waste Stores like the one from
Zero Waste Shopping in the US
In the US the supermarket chain Whole Foods is a great place to buy bulk and bring your own container. They also have a huge variety of unwrapped fresh produce. Some Whole Foods Stores even except to let you bring your container for the salad bar (like in Flagstaff) others sadly don’t. Some do have reusable plates if you want to stay in for lunch, some do have a little more eco friendly container to go.
In LA we were lucky to live close to a Sprouts Supermarket and we could even bring our own glass jar to get olives from the salad bar! Some Ralphs Supermarkets had a small bulk section too.
Not in Korea Town LA, but in El Segundo and Torrance.
In LA a lovely friend of mine opened a Refill/Zero Waste shop too, so if you ever get to Long Beach in LA go visit her and say hallo from me 🙂 Bring your own long beach. She even has an online shop!
In New York there are a few Zero Waste Stores, but like in LA if you don’t live close by it’s like a day trip to go shopping 😉
But there are farmers markets almost everywhere in the US! Even though the are a little more expensive sometimes, if you can afford it and want to support local, organic farmers, go check out the closest farmers market.
Zero Waste Shopping in Canada
In Canada you´ve got the Bulk Store Chain Bulk-Barn in a lot of Cities. They have a great range of bulk products, but it´s not about a plastic free shopping and its not organic. They offer free plastic bags only, but you bring your own reusable bags or jars, and they also sell jars and reusable bags if you need some.
In Toronto we lived close to a Bulk Store called Urban Bulk Emporium. A really nice shop (not plastic free yet), offering a range of organic products too. And they appreciate if you bring your own bags and container.
They have more zero waste options and stores all around the city center.
First time we lived in Montreal we lived close to a Zero Waste Store called Epicerie- Loco. They are located in two different areas in Montreal for now. They offer everything from grains, to unwrapped Tofu (!!), Shrimps and Coffee. You will find veggies and fruits, eggs and unwrapped cheese. And everything else you need.
On our second stay we lived closer to the stores Mega Vrac and Vrac and Bocaux (I didnt make it for a visit) and a few farmers markets like Jean Talon Market. A lot of unwrapped choices. From olives, fruits, veggies, cheese, pastries, cakes….
I think Montreal now has 6 or 7 zero waste stores and even a zero waste delivery on bike: Vrac sur roues
Zero waste in Prague
In Prague, Czech Republic, you will find a few awesome farmers markets all around town where you can buy veggies and fruits and even nuts and dried fruits unwrapped. Just bring your own cloth bags/Paper bags (I havent seen anyone providing paper bags). Also Cakes (bring your own container) and cheese and meat, I bet they won’t mind to put your order in your own container.
Farmers market (I think its every weekday)
Nám. Jiřího z Poděbrad,
130 00 Praha 3
There is also a small Zero waste shop in Prague you should check out:
120 00 Praha 2
Bez Obalu is a little hidden. You won’t see them if you just pass the building. I couldn’t find them on my first attempt. You need to look out for a door to the backyard where theres a green sign and then ring the bell. They’ll buzz the door open for you. It’s a small shop, but they have a lot of bulk to offer. From lentils, nuts, dried fruits, oats, cookies, etc….
Zero waste shopping in Germany
I have the feeling that in Germany by now in every bigger city you will find a Zero Waste shop! The popped up like mushrooms every where!!
Easy to find when you google: Unverpackt “insert city”
In a lot of European countries it is normal to find bulk options on markets etc. But in Germany not so much anymore. Why it is very cool that we have the zero waste stores everywhere. While they mostly offer organic products they are more expensive than food from a discounter. But if you compare bulk organic with packaged organic they are always a little cheaper.
In the north german town Kiel, you will find the first Zero Waste Store that opened in Germany in 2014 already! The owner opened it after she attended a Bea Johnson Event! How awesome.
Awesome range of products. From grains, herbs, oil, Whisky, sausages, cheese, chocolate, fresh produce, you will find everything in this little gem.
Shopping plastic free along the eastern part of the baltic coast
By bus we traveled from Tallin to Riga, to Vilnius, Warsaw, Prague and then Vienna.
We didn’t buy a single plastic water bottle, and no plastic wrapped food either.
There are big markets everywhere where you can find anything in bulk or unwrapped. If you don’t talk the local language ask google translator and write a few important sentences down. Like: no plastic bag please, no straw please, etc. Younger people all around Europe do talk english, so in cities you won’t face any problem. With older people from markets you will have a language barrier, but almost everybody understands if you say: NO to the bag and then hand them your own reusable. And you mostly can pack the fresh produce in your bag yourself, so no worries 🙂
The only time someone looked strange at me and didn’t know what to do with me and my reusable bag had been in a discounter in Vienna. I bought some nuts and filled them into my bag and the cashier first took the tomatoes our of my mesh produce bag to weigh it, and then he faced the nuts and was like shaking his head and didn’t know what to do. I then told him: “I don’t mind if it costs a tiny bit more (the bag weighs 15g) but since you don’t offer paper bags I had no choice because I want no plastic bag.” I got my nuts without any more discussion 😉
Zero waste shopping in Mexico
Go look out for all the amazing markets!!! You will find fruits and veggies and I’ve seen beans and lentils too at El Mercado de Medellin.
On the streets of Mexico City you will find stalls selling nuts in bulk and a lot of sweets too. Just tell them friendly that you like to use your own bag.
Supermarkets have loads of unwrapped fresh produce too.
You won’t be lucky to find plastic free stuff like sugar, salt etc. It is so hot and humid, maybe that is the reason? But I didn’t found any. So I didn’t buy any.
Playa del Carmen
In Playa Del Carmen Mexico you can find the DAC grocery store. A grocery store where you can get 98% of the fresh produce unwrapped. You can bring a reusable container for eggs. If you bring your own reusable bags you can refuse the plastic bags (or if you need to get a plastic bag please make sure to wash and reuse for your next grocery shopping). They also have a lot of spices and grains (rice, couscous, quinoa, millet,…) and nuts and dried fruits in bulk. Bring your reusable bags and your all set. There are also a few other smaller grocery stores (a little outside of the center) with heaps of unwrapped fresh produce. At the check out you find some energy balls (delicious). They actually provide paper bags for these, but I still use my reusable bag for them.
You can also find bamboo toothbrushes at Bio Natural and deodorant in a paper tube at Bio Organicos. You could also make your own deodorant using this recipe here-> DIY deodorant. In a shop called Xunan Herbal, you will have the opportunity to refill your own bottles with cleaning products.
Eco-Popotes is selling stainless steel straws so you can refuse all the single use ones that would come in your drinks.
You will find Essential Oils at Esential Caribe (Constituyentes and the southeast corner of Avenida 20). I bought Citronella oil there to make my own mosquito repellent.
The supermarket (Mega) has a big variety of food in glass jars (salsa, salt, mustard, coconut oil, chick peas, etc…) and also some bulgur or pasta in carton (pasta comes with a little plastic window).
There is a market at the Quinta Margarita Hotel every tuesday from 11-2pm (Calle 32, between 5th and 10th where you can find reusable straws, veggies milk, bamboo cutlery…. and you can get vegan curry and samosas in your reusable container 🙂
We need to lower our footprint while traveling to keep the places we love beautiful!
Yes it sometimes needs a little bit of research but just dimiss one Netflix show one evening and do a little research for your holiday and your all set 🙂 You will see you will feel much better by reducing trash to a minimum while your enjoying your holiday.
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