A majority of food at grocery stores today is wrapped in plastic packaging. Millions of people are waking up to the toll this is taking on our earth, our fellow species and our society as a whole. Some of those people have been inspired enough to open shops that are dedicated to offering food with no plastic packaging at all. These shops have hundreds of unpackaged foods to choose from – legumes, flours, dried fruits, nuts, teas, herbs, spices, coffees, pasta and more. They often also carry liquids such as oils, vinegar, wine, condiments and kombucha as well as machines to grind your own almond butter and peanut butter. Many offer nonfood items including personal hygiene items and cleaning products such as soap and laundry detergent. Also, they carry many tools to help people live zero waste whether at home, work, school or on the go.
Zero waste shops may be a new concept, but the philosophy and actions behind them have long been in existence. Just decades ago, all food was unpackaged or packaged in biodegradable paper and fibers. But we aren’t living in the past and that has made the necessity for zero waste shops. The founders of these shops don’t do it just for the act of serving the unpackaged food. It is an act of resistance against a wasteful system and comes from a deep desire to change the system. Zero waste shops serve as much as a form of activism as they do a grocery store in themselves. They exist to educate people and show that another way is possible. They exist to create a story that the media can pick up to report on the problems with our destructive systems and help the viewers realize that another way is possible.
Another option: Food Co-ops
Food co-ops have existed for over five decades in the United States and thousands of them exist. With extensive bulk food sections and unpackaged produce, they carry much of what these zero waste shops carry as well as other items for daily life. Between food co-ops, supermarkets with bulk sections, farmers markets and buying clubs there are many options to buy package-free food.
Below we have made a list of all the Zero Waste Shops we could find in the United States as of mid 2022. We have done this to celebrate the movement, support them, and help you find one near you. If you’ve never been to a zero waste shop, be prepared for a real treat!
With only a handful of states with full-fledged zero waste shops currently in the USA (as of mid 2022) you may not have one near you but keep them in mind for your next trip!