Eat Too Much Plastic

Published on June 9th, 2014 | by Becky Striepe

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6 Grocery Stores that are Packaging Free

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Food packaging is an often unsung part of our food waste problem, but these grocery stores are trying to change that by changing the way we shop for food.

When you think about buying groceries like rice, dry beans, spices, and veggies, what do you see? Rows of bags and boxes, if you’re at most conventional grocery stores, right? Food and packaging waste go hand-in-hand at most grocery stores. For example, check out this photo I snapped at a Publix in Oveido, Florida this weekend:

Too Much Plastic

Yes, those are individually wrapped green peppers on the top shelf. And every single item is wrapped in plastic and/or styrofoam.

Zero packaging grocery stores like the ones listed below want to turn that picture on its head. They offer everything from produce and dry goods to soap and shampoo in bulk bins. You can bring your own reusable containers or borrow one of theirs.

When I was researching this list, I was pretty bummed that I was only able to find six zero packaging grocery stores worldwide. If you know of others, I hope that you’ll tell us in the comments below!

6 Zero Packaging Grocery Stores

6 Grocery Stores that are Packaging Free

1. Original Unverpakt – Berlin, Germany

This is the newest zero packaging grocery store on this list. It’s opening up later this summer after overwhelming support on its crowdfunding project.

6 Grocery Stores that are Packaging Free

2. In.Gredients – Austin, TX

In.Gredients was one of the first zero packaging grocery stores in the world and the first in the U.S.

6 Grocery Stores that are Packaging Free

3. Unpackaged – London, UK

Sadly, this zero packaging store closed after less than a year, but you can still sign up for their email list to keep up with the Unpackaged Project.

6 Grocery Stores that are Packaging Free

4. Simply Bulk Market – Longmont, CO

This Colorado bulk grocery store even offers pet food in bulk!

6 Grocery Stores that are Packaging Free

5. Granel – Barcelona, Spain

Granel translates to “in bulk.” This store focuses on reducing waste and on reducing cost for customers. When you can buy as little as you need, you can eat healthier food on a smaller budget.

6 Grocery Stores that are Packaging Free

6. Effectora – Capannori, Italy

Not only is this a zero packaging grocery store, but 80 percent of the products on its shelves come from within 45 miles of the stores. Boom! Pow!

Reducing Waste at Regular Grocery Stores

Of course, even if you don’t have a local zero packaging grocery store, you can reduce the packaging waste when you shop.

If your grocer has bulk bins, bring light cloth bags and skip the plastic waste. If they don’t have bulk bins or the state of affairs is as bad as at the Publix above, talk politely to the store owner. Grocery stores want to give customers what we want. Sometimes we just have to let them know what that is.

Are there any zero packaging grocery stores in your town? Let’s flesh this list out in the comments, y’all!

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Rod Averbuch

    The large amount of food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. There is no single cure, or silver bullet for food waste reduction therefore, we should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of fresh perishables close to their expiration on supermarket shelves, combined with the consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior, might be the weakest link of the fresh food supply chain.
    The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables applications that encourage efficient
    consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for fresh perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill.
    The “End Grocery Waste” App, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard,
    encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.

    Rod Averbuch
    Chicago, IL

  • emily

    yay! I’d add that it’s important to remember that we consumers can control this by buying consciously and requesting alternatives (many grocery stores are very responsive to customer requests). When faced with options choose less packaging, this is particularly easy in produce where you don’t even have to use a produce bag unless you feel you need it. I’d also note that you can get through most co-ops I’ve visited without unnecessary packaging, Sevananda, Rainbow, Park Slope Food Co-op…

    Becky did you notice that our local Kroger just got a bulk section?? Pretty neat for mainstream store!

    • Becky Striepe

      Ooh yes! Co-ops are a great option. Hurrah for bulk sections!

  • Terisa Chevreaux-Pittaway

    I love being able to buy in bulk but often I can’t because of my allergies. What do allergies have to do with buying in bulk? Well the problem is cross contamination. Often stores don’t think about preventing cross contamination and use a bulk bin that was previously used for say wheat flour for almond flour or visa versa. This can cause a big problem for someone who is allergic. I found a health food store near me with very good cleaning practices that was very careful to mark each bin so it was re-used for the same item each time. Unfortunately this same store didn’t pay attention to how the bins were placed in the store after refilling and accidently placed the wheat flour directly over the bin for gluten free oats *head desk* I really want to buy in bulk, use less packaging and save a little bit of money but I don’t want to get sick when I do it. I hope by mentioning this common problem that people with allergies have with bulk bins that we can work on a good solution and clean practices that avoid cross contamination.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      Oh wow – I hadn’t thought about this. That’s definitely something that needs to be discussed more. I’m most surprised to hear about cross-contamination with nuts, since some nut allergies can be deadly.

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