March 22, 2022|
4 min read
London-based eco blogger, Kieran Pollitt (a.k.a. the semi-sustainable man), gives a run-down of the best zero waste stores in London and an insight into what other plastic-free shops are available in the UK.
Disclaimer: The original list was curated by Kieran Pollitt back in 2018 and has been updated by Hibah Khan in 2022.
Zero waste has become a buzzword in recent times in the sustainability and environmental bubble. To live a less wasteful or “zero waste” lifestyle is to reduce the amount of products you use which get sent to landfill. If you are interested in learning more about how to do this better, check out Wearth’s first blog post on the ‘The 6 R’s to Zero Waste Living‘.
What Is A Zero Waste Store?
Zero waste stores help people to live a more zero-waste lifestyle by eliminating unnecessary packaging. They do this by stocking bulk products in large dispensable containers or jars. You can usually tell if you are in the presence of a zero waste shop if they have a wall dedicated to glass dispensers, all filled with an assortment of dried pastas, grains, beans, and nuts.
How Do Zero Waste Shops Work?
To avoid waste, you bring your own containers, whatever they may be: paper bags, plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, glass jars, etc.
The process varies from store to store but is straightforward, often using a self-weighing system. Before getting carried away like an adult in a zero waste shop, you have to weigh your empty container, and write the weight on the jar. You then fill these containers with all the zero waste goodies your heart desires. Your container is then re-weighed by you or the shop, and then you pay. Easy as that!
Where Are They?
Zero waste stores are a worldwide phenomenon. However, there are some countries where they have become more prevalent than others, such as areas of Australia and Canada.
At the time of writing, zero waste stores in the UK are few and far between but this is set to increase in the coming years. Here is an overview of a selection of zero waste stores dotted around London and the UK. This is by no means a comprehensive list and there are likely to be small scale zero waste stores or aisles inside shops, across the country.
Unfortunately, these zero waste shops are not accessible to everyone yet, but hopefully sooner rather than later we can all have better access to package-free shopping.
Zero Waste Stores In London:
Kilo takes the pay-by-weight concept to the next level with its convenient app that remembers how heavy your containers are so that they can be easily deducted from the price you pay each time you shop. And if you’re having a particularly busy and stressful week, Kilo’s jar drop service is ideal. Simply place a “click and collect” order online, select “jar drop” at checkout, drop your containers off at the store and return when you’re ready.
Kilo source and sell products in bulk or without disposable packaging and, where possible, they come from local producers or fair-trade suppliers.
Address: 518 Holloway Road, London N7 6JD
Nestled in Hackney Downs Studios Re:Store is a zero-waste refill shop that is guaranteed to change the way you shop. Fill your old containers to the brim with pantry and household essentials like wholefoods, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, cleaning products and much more. Small-scale local companies line the shelves as well, including Kinda Co’s award-winning vegan cheese, Beeswax wraps made in Essex and natural soaps made in London.
Drop by to get your necessities, order online for Click & Collect, or schedule a local delivery.
Address: Hackney Downs Studios, 17 Amhurst Terrace, London, E8 2BT
This is a multi-location zero-waste shop that pops up in three different places throughout the week. Their flagship store in West Norwood sells dried fruits, snacks, sweets and even toiletries. They also have an option to purchase bulk online with certain dry food products, such as rice, pasta, tea and coffee, and flour.
They sell and source produce that has been grown or made in the UK to cut down on delivery distance and the associated carbon emissions, along with stocking organic whole foods.
Address: West Norwood: 23a Knight’s Hill, London SE27 0HS
Brixton: Brixton Station Rd, London SW9 8PB
Get Loose located in Hackney City Farm is a popular zero waste shop in East London, offering a taste of rural charm in the heart of the city. You can get plastic-free organic fruits and vegetables, pulses, oils, dairy products, toiletries, and much more.
Majority of their stock is sourced from independent local producers, such as coffee from Mont58 in south-east London, nut butters and relishes from Carley’s, and vegan cheeses from Palace Culture.
Address: Hackney City Farm, 1a Goldsmiths Row, London E2 8QA
The Source Bulk Foods is your one-stop bulk market for everything plastic-free, with a product selection of over 500 items. This zero waste store, which has five locations across London including Battersea and Chiswick, stocks everything from oils to sustainable household cleaning and personal hygiene products, as well as staple everyday items like pasta and grains.
On their website they also provide sustainable living blogs and posts about the benefits of some of their products.
Unpackaged refillable stations are available at your local Planet Organic. The refill store is the brainchild of zero waste movement trailblazer Catherine Conway, pioneering zero waste shopping in London in 2006, first at the Broadway and Exmouth markets. A year later, she opened Islington’s first zero-waste grocery store, selling 700 products.
Despite closing their doors in 2013, Unpackaged reopened their first concession two years later in Planet Organic Muswell Hill. They now sell over 70 certified organic products ranging from mango slices to popcorn in nine of their London locations.
The Refill Larder is an eco-friendly shop in Teddington, just outside of central London. Aside from a large selection of dry goods, you will also be able to purchase fun items such as eco glitter, reusable food wraps, and plastic-free bathroom items (some of which are available online).
The shop is a mix of self-service and staff service, so just ask for assistance when you arrive and they will be happy to show you the ropes.
Address: 18 High Street, Teddington, London TW11 8EW
Zéro is an independent store dedicated to the zero-waste lifestyle. Alicia and Josh founded the company after being inspired by their travels to Italy and France, where the culture of visiting specialised shops for bread, cheese, and vegetables is still very much alive.
There are pulses, cereals, and spices among their bulk no waste products, as well as the option for some plastic-free indulgence with sweet treats like salted caramel fudge and chocolate drops!
Address: Unit 201 Centre Court Shopping Centre, Wimbledon, London SW19 8YE
By Gram is one of London’s most trendiest plastic-free stores. Step into a tranquil plant-filled store and you’ll find a plethora of dry food essentials contained in beautifully lit boxes. Organic, small, local makers with a sustainable mindset are the producers. There’s also an entire wall devoted to detergent refills.
They support the idea of organic farming, but also prioritise small local makers and businesses with a sustainable mindset and ethical approach to living.
Address: 795 Fulham Road, London SW6 5HD
Zero Waste Stores In The UK:
Earth Food Love had to make the list. Established in March 2017 by Nicola & Richard, upon its arrival Earth Food Love was the UK’s first and only organic zero waste shop. They were followed by other stores, but not all of these are 100% organic like Earth Food Love.
A shop truly for the community and educating, they provide guidance on their website for those interested in setting up a zero waste shop themselves. Earth Food Love has over 100 organic, loose, self-serve food products. These include cereals, pulses, legumes, beans, grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, dried herbs, dried spices, loose-leaf teas, flour, and sugar.
Address: 101 High Street, Devon, TQ9 5PF
Natural Weigh was Wales’ first zero waste store launched in Crickhowell in 2017 with a wide range of plastic-free & organic products.It is run by Robin and Chloe with the mission of creating a store with a range of plastic-free alternatives for everyday shopping.
They sell organic & additive free food to help people reduce the amount of plastic consumed and discarded into our environment.
Address: Unit 3, Corn Exchange, 54 High St, Crickhowell NP8 1BH
The Clean Kilo was Birmingham’s first zero waste supermarket. It opened on the 16th June after a successful crowdfunding campaign.The shop is the brainchild of Dr. Thomas Pell, who decided that he wanted to create a store which helped solve the amount of plastic produced from domestic sources.
The result of a lot of work and planning is Clean Kilo, a bulk market which sells a wide range of plastic-free products. These include cereals, pasta, workout supplements, specialty tea, and frozen treats. They encourage you to bring your own containers but they also have a wide range of jars on sale.
Address: 1 Gibb Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AA
Bristol got its first bulk store, Zero Green, which opened in Bedminster in March 2018.The store was opened by Lidia & Stacey who became frustrated by the amount of plastic used in everyday products and decided to do something about it.
Their emphasis is on stocking locally sourced food, tea, dried fruit, home essentials, and reusable lifestyle products. Even their business cards are made from repurposed old t-shirts!
Address: 80 North Street, Bristol, BS3 1HT
The first Refill Store opened on 11th May in Truro, located in Lemon Street Market. Founded by two Cornish mums who have a passion for the coastline and countryside. While out on a regular run together, the concept of The Refill Store was born.
“The ReFill Store will offer an alternative allowing consumers to reuse and refill to cut down the single-use plastic that currently surrounds our food, giving the opportunity to buy store-cupboard essentials loose across a range of budgets.”
Address: Lemon Street Market, Lemon St, Truro TR1 2QD
The Refillery is a plastic-free grocery and ethical goods store now open in Edinburgh. In just one year, The Refillery’s customers have saved nearly 120,000 pieces of plastic packaging!
They stock a wide range of refillable wholefoods, oils, vinegars, household cleaning, and personal care items. As well as seasonal organic fruit and vegetable, fresh organic eggs, and locally baked fresh bread.
Address: 39 Newington Road, Newington, Edinburgh EH9 1QW
After opening in June 2019 thanks to a successful crowd-funded campaign, Jar now provides Plymouth locals and visitors with zero waste, refillable produce.Since before the founders opened Jar, they’ve been part of a group of zero waste shop owners who collaborate and share ideas about the most sustainable options for the products they sell and some recent, exciting news Plymouth locals have raised enough money to support Helen and Caroline open a second store on Hyde Park Road.
“Our aim is to find better alternatives than you can find in the supermarkets, and always pick the best option we can find while staying affordable.”
Address: 38 Looe Street, Plymouth, PL4 0EB
Founded in mid-2017 by Ecology PhD graduates, Unwrapped is inspired by their love of nature and all things eco.Founders state that Unwrapped is finally the shop they wished existed in Sheffield, as being environmentally friendly is often difficult or expensive. They stock vegetarian and vegan produce alongside household refills and eco-lifestyle accessories.
Unwrapped focusses on accessibility. The founders are aware that not everyone can purchase 100% organic produce. They state that Unwrapped provides “most of the weekly essentials and caters to lots of budgets”.
Address: 152-154 Crookes, Sheffield, S10 1UH
By listening to a call for change in today’s convenience culture, Something Good was created to help locals live the environmentally-friendly lifestyle that the founder also strives for. Something Good’s mission is to be simple and affordable for anyone to make small, sustainable changes towards a low impact, low waste lifestyle. They believe that everyone should have the chance to live an ethical lifestyle by doing so through the way they shop.
Something good provides Newcastle locals and visitors with a package-free and plastic-free pantry, reusable accessories, and refillable produce
Address: 265 Jesmond Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE2 1LB
Harriet’s of Hove is a unique food, toiletries, and kitchen product refills store. It is Hove’s only completely plastic-free packaging shop, providing customers with a unique shopping experience.
In addition to refills, they offer unpackaged seasonal vegetables, a variety of bamboo products, and a selection of other sustainable items to help people eliminate unnecessary plastics from their lives. Harriet’s of Hove will have something for everyone, whether you are a sustainability expert or simply interested in the environment.
Address: 48 Blatchington Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 3YH
Unboxed is committed to making the world a cleaner, better place by reducing the amount of plastic and other waste used in the packaging of everyday items. Their goal is to live as waste-free a life as possible, so nothing you buy from the store will end up in a landfill.
They sell everything you could possibly need for your pantry, in addition to the usual fruits and vegetables. Cereals, pasta, and dried foods, as well as nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, are all available. They also have a great selection of natural cleaning supplies and toiletries. All of their products are environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and, whenever possible, sourced locally.
Address: 10 St Peter’s Street, Canterbury CT1 2AT
Our Top Zero Waste Essentials:
Looking for some zero-waste essentials, at Wearth, we offer our own range of plastic-free, zero waste products sold online. We are helping to make single-use plastic become a thing of the past.
Zero Waste Starter Kit
Complete zero waste starter package by the new eco lifestyle brand, Atlas & Ortus. The kit includes a large organic cotton everyday bag perfect for grocery shopping, along with a glass eco coffee cup, and a stainless steel food container for food on the go.
The bag is made by Freeset global, a Fair Trade certified organisation based in West Bengal which empower women previously trapped in India’s sex trade.
Plastic-Free Toothpaste & Bamboo Toothbrush
Natural coconut oil remineralising toothpaste, handmade in West Sussex UK. It comes in a reusable glass jar and even the seal wrapped around their jars is made from biodegradable cellulose.
Around 3.5 billion toothbrushes are sold worldwide, most of which end up languishing in landfill. Bamboo toothbrushes offer a natural zero waste alternative. This bamboo toothbrush comes with charcoal infused bristles.
Washable Makeup Remover
Wet and makeup wipes have a devastating impact on the environment and are even responsible for 93% of sewer blockages in the UK! These eco-friendly cleansing pads are a great replacement and are individually handmade in Devon. They can be washed and reused over and over again.
Stainless Steel Lunch Box
Extra large single layer lunch box with tough 304 stainless steel and steel side clasps for secure fastening.
The large size means you can easily fit a sandwich and snack, making it perfect for eating on the move as well as school lunches or taking it to the office.
We hope you enjoyed reading this guest blog on UK zero waste stores from Kieran of The Ramblings of a Semi-Sustainable Man. Kieran shares loads of helpful zero waste tips as well as thoughtful opinion pieces on topical issues like the UK Energy market.
Looking for even more zero waste content, check out our post on ‘10 Eco-Friendly Swaps & Zero Waste Alternatives’ you can make for tips on becoming greener!