18th March is Global Recycling Day. It’s a day for all of us to save our planet. The day was established as a UN-recognised day in 2018 with an objective to raise recycling awareness.
Recycling is no doubt an important and effective strategy in the battle for the survival of both people and the Earth. Recyclables – the seventh resource, according to Global Recycling Foundation, saves over 700 million tonnes in CO2 emission, which is projected to increase even more to 1 billion tons by 2030. However, recycling is not necessarily the best option. Why not take a step further to reduce waste at the source? Shop at local zero waste stores could be one of the many things we can do. Let’s go zero waste shopping on Global Recycling Day 2023!
What is zero waste shopping?
Absolutely, NO plastic packaging! Things are sold in bulk. Shoppers need to bring their own reusable cloth or glass containers to carry what they buy, or buy reusable containers at the store. These are the basic concepts of zero waste shopping.
Zero waste shops, however, aren’t just concerned with plastics. They also pay extra attention to how the food they stock is produced. Organic items are usually their choices. Some may even offer organic products only. Zero waste shop owners are also said to be careful not to buy food from producers who exploit their labour force or are indiscriminate in their use of natural resources.
To summarise, the key elements of zero waste shopping are:
Customers have to bring their own containers. At some zero waste stores, free paper bags and recycled glass containers may be provided – or have them available for sale.
It helps reduce the amount of packaging.
The suppliers should have the same priorities as the zero waste shops.
All food that is set to expire should have a destination, such as a food bank.
Zero waste shopping, Oxfordshire
The zero waste movement started about 20 years ago in Europe. The first zero waste shop, Unpackaged, opened in London in 2007. Now there are hundreds of zero waste shops in the UK, with many located in environmental hotspots such as Brighton, Bath, Bristol and north-east London. Looking for them in Oxfordshire? Check out the list below. It’s definitely not exclusive. Do share with us if you find some more in your local areas.
10a Arbery Arcade, Church Street, Wantage, Oxfordshire, OX12 8BL
In addition to packaging-free staple dried foods – most of them are organic, there are eco-friendly toiletries, cosmetics and DIY cleaning ingredients that can help make someone’s everyday routine kinder on mother nature and their own.
Simply bring your own jars, containers and bags, and pop in and weigh out what you need. The store also has some reusable containers and bags as well as paper bags and small jars (which have been donated) for customers who haven’t prepared.
Nothing But Footprints
Castle Quay Shopping Centre, Banbury, OX16 5UH
It’s said the largest dedicated zero waste shop in Oxfordshire, with over 1,200 sustainably sourced products online and in store, ranging from food and cooking items to a variety of household goods.
They allow drop-and-go: leaving clean and labelled containers to be refilled and collected later, click-and-collect at Evenley Forge Coffee & Post Office (near Brackley) and Bicester Green every week after ordering online. Free delivery is provided for orders of £30 or above.
2A High Street, Walington, Oxfordshire, OX49 5PS
They offer food and drinks, and goods for health and well-being as well as sustainable living. Customers can either drop-and-collect – label and drop their containers in store and collect later, or click-and-collect – order online and collect in store. Local delivery is available but subject to additional charges. It is fulfilled by local couriers using their electric bikes and vans.
The Village Refill
Yarnton Home & Garden Center
Sandy Lane, Yarnton, Oxon, OX5 1PA
This zero waste store offers a variety of products, from food for the larder to things for kitchen, bathroom and laundry as well as personal care and beauty, and for pets. All of them are said natural, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly, with the majority being vegan.
The store offers refill service that works much like a milkround. Receiving orders online, they deliver items to doorstep in returnable glass bottles. This mobile service, however, is only available to villages and Oxford city.
They also have a physical self-service shop, with assistance in limited hours, in Yarton Home & Garden Centre.
Tribe Zero Waste
19 Marketplace, Faringdon, SN7 7HP
While this physical store is located in Faringdon, a market town right on Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire border, there are also an online store and a pop-up store at Wolvercote market once a month.
The owner has put much effort on keeping operation as low-impact as possible, for example, by sourcing organic foods and local produces where possible, buying in bulk, and using second-hand equipment as well as recyclable and compostable paper bags in store. Also deliveries and market trips are made by electric van.
4 Wesley Walk, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX28 6ZJ
A relatively new zero waste member, Wast0 offers loose fruits and vegetables, local bread, eggs, milk and honey, bulk frozen foods and dried foods, including gluten free and organic items. There are also refillable cleaning and personal care products as well as eco-friendly household goods.
You can either bring your own containers and buy in store, or shop online with home delivery, which, however, is only available on Tuesdays and Fridays and within 10 miles of the store.
In fact, it’s not a must to look for a dedicated zero waste store in order to shop plastic-free. Simply visit a local store or farmer market (you may even find a zero waste pop-up store there). You can buy loose fruits and vegetables, local produces, vegan and eco-friendly products. Even supermarkets such as Waitrose, Morrisons and M&S have already installed refill stations in some of their stores. There are many ways to shop unpacked and plastic-free.
After zero waste shopping, you may go on to prepare dishes. You can get some ideas of healthy and eco-friendly recipes from our previous article.