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Plastic free shopping: Scotland’s zero waste stores

23 MAR 21 | 2 minute read

Most of us are in the habit of taking our reusable bags with us when we head out to do the weekly shop.

But, as soon as we’ve returned home and begin unpacking, it can seem like most of the shop immediately ends up in the bin.

Unwrapping multipacks feels more like a game of pass the parcel, unwrapping layer after layer before you finally get to the prize inside. About as far from zero waste as you can get.

The true cost of packaging

The average Scottish household buys 130kg of single-use grocery packaging each year, at a cost of almost £250 - or 7% of the average annual grocery bill.

This generates an estimated 650,000 tonnes in global production emissions per year, the equivalent to emissions from around four million car journeys from Aberdeen to London.

Not only this but the majority of this packaging is single-use plastic and can be difficult to recycle.

Zero waste shopping

Going packaging-free

Finding packaging-free food during a standard supermarket shop can be extremely challenging as often the multibuys or packaged items tend to be cheaper than loose, individual products.

Packaging is often seen as a way to protect products and the prolong shelf life of food. However, too many products come in packaging which is unnecessary and single-use, creating significant emissions and waste. 

Consumer pressure is forcing large retailers to change. Some supermarkets are taking steps to reduce this, like removing plastic film from multi-packs of tins or allowing customers to bring their own containers for delicatessen items.

The average Scottish household buys 130kg of single-use grocery packaging each year, at a cost of almost £250 - or 7% of the average annual grocery bill.

Zero waste shops - the new kid on the block

There is an alternative. A new wave of ‘zero waste shops’ are taking to the high street, designed to reduce single-use packaging and allow customers to buy in bulk and use their own containers for all items.

For some this might conjure up images of hippies and dried lentils, but in reality the choice of produce available is vast. Many shops sell fresh fruit and vegetables as well as flour, sugar, breakfast cereals, dried fruit - but also oils, vinegars, milk, eggs and sauces.

Beyond the edible stuff, zero waste shops are great for cosmetics and household cleaning products (many of these are more beneficial for the environment in a number of ways). Shopping at independent small retailers also contributes to the local economy.

If this seems daunting then all that is needed is a little bit of preparation. Get yourself some tupperware or jars of various sizes, plastic bottles (you can reuse old containers like household cleaners or washing up bottles) and reusable bags.

Supermarket sweep

To get you started here’s a directory of zero waste and refill shops across Scotland. If you spot one that’s missing from our list of stores, get in touch on Facebook to let us know. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Given the current situation, some stores may be temporarily closed, operating limited opening hours or offering a home delivery service. Check with your local store for up to date information. 

Aberdeen

Food Story
Rosemary Planet Refillery
Refillosophy

Aberfeldy

Handam Refill Station

Aboyne

Deeside Re-Fill

Arbroath

Sea No Waste

Broughty Ferry

Love Your Planet

Broxburn

Green with Envi

Burnt Island

Grain and Sustain

Crathie

The Highlanders Bakehouse

Dumfries

Zero Waste Space

Dunblane

Weigh Ahead

Dundee

Birchwood Emporium
The Little Green Larder

Dunfermline

Happy Earth Place

Edinburgh

The New Leaf Co-op
Real Foods
Weigh To Go
The Refillery
The Good Store
The Eco Larder
Bambu Living

Ellon

Bare

Forfar

Autumn Wren

Fort William

The Emporium of Worldly Goods

Glasgow

Society Zero
Locavore
Zero Waste Market
Eco Lad and Lass
Neighbourhood

Haddington

LIL

Helensburgh

Zero Waste Shop

Insch

Butterfly Effect

Inverurie

The Green Grocer

Isle of Skye

The Selkie Collective

Kelso

Kelso Wholefoods

Kirriemuir

A Longer Table

Larbert

Savana Living

Lauder

Purple Plum

Lerwick

Why waste?

Lochmaben

The Wee Shop

Lossiemouth

The Re:Store

Perth

Wash House Store
Tay Larder

Pitlochry

Handam Refill Station

Tillicoultry 

Zero Waste Organics

Troon

Lavemill Larder