No packaging, no problem
I’ve been trying to reduce my use of plastic over the past few months, after reading all the news stories about plastic floating in the ocean. This summer, Zero Green opened in Bristol, a zero-waste shop where you can buy all kinds of everyday bits and pieces, from beans, rice and cereal, to shampoo, oat milk and bamboo toothbrushes.
Today was our first visit – armed with a few tupperware containers, we poked our heads in the door on North Street. The shop is filled with hoppers full of dry goods, jars full of organic & dairy-free chocolates (yum) and large pump containers full of shampoo and moisturiser. I was really pleased to see they had soaps from Wild Sage & Co, a natural soap company that do some really lovely products. I couldn’t resist picking up a bar of their frankincense and orange soap – perfect for the shower, and a great alternative to shower gel in plastic bottles.
The actual mechanics of buying produce without containers was a bit baffling at first – possibly due to the fact it was still before noon on a Sunday – I’m not a morning person at the best of times! The idea is that you take your empty container, weight it and print out a barcode that tells you how much your container weighs. Then fill the container and put it back on the scales – you can scan the barcode you just printed, to subtract the weight of the container, and obtain the correct price for your food! It sounds like a lot of printing, but the container weight stickers can be reused next time you visit, as long as you keep them on the bottom of your containers.
Price-wise, it’s all pretty reasonable. The large tupperware you can see above was full of dry noodles (about 4 nests), and cost just under £1. The dairy-free organic chocolates are a bit pricier, but the basic goods are pretty competitive. If you forget your own containers, you can even buy jars there, for a reasonable £1 a go – I’ve got to remember to start saving mine all up! I also really liked the sound of fresh oat milk (delivered to the shop twice-weekly), and they grind their own coffee beans too – I’ll definitely be going back.
The only thing missing from the Zero Waste shop, in my opinion, is fresh produce. It’d be really nice to be able to buy fresh veggies and bread with the same no-packaging ethos, or in paper packaging – it’s still really difficult to buy fresh food with recyclable packaging. Our local supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s & Asda) all have plastic bags in their fruit and veg departments. Even the independent grocer on East Street in Bedminster uses all-plastic bags – I’m considering buying a job lot of thin paper bags and taking them with me, at this point. I think it’s worth the sideways glances at the checkout…