Zero-waste shopping is taking off all over the country, with zero-waste shops (sometimes called refilleries) popping up in several cities and people being mindful to bring reusables to their grocery stores. But a lot of people want to try zero-waste shopping, but aren’t really sure how to start. If that’s you, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. We’ve been operating a low to zero-waste shop in downtown Chilliwack, BC for several years now, and we’re here to explain the ins and outs of zero-waste shopping to help you feel more confident knowing how to try zero-waste shopping for the first time. Keep reading to learn more!
What to Do Before You Go to a Zero-Waste Store
Gather a few clean containers
While many stores have containers you can take for free that were donated by other shoppers or have new containers you can buy, you can also just bring your own! Save plastic containers (like yogurt or nut containers), jars with lids or anything else that might come in handy. Then when you’re at the store, you can see what types of containers work best for the items you want to pick up.
Gather some reusable cloth bags
Having some sturdy cloth bags will come in handy when you want to carry your stuff home since zero-waste stores and refilleries tend not to have disposable bag options.
What to Do While You’re at the Zero-Waste Store
Have fun and explore!
First things first, make this a fun learning experience. Check out their options, maybe try something new, and embrace the experience.
Ask lots of questions
The people who work at zero-waste stores/refilleries are generally super friendly and helpful and happy to answer questions, make recommendations and show you their favourite products. So if you have questions, just ask!
Ask about their product weighing system
Since many of the products at zero-waste stores come in bulk, they are priced by weight and are weighed at the counter when you check out. And since you use your own containers to take the products home, the store will need to know the weight of your empty containers (called the “tare” weight) so they can accurately measure how much product you’re buying. So before you start filling your containers with goodies, ask a store associate to explain their weighing system. Some shops have scannable stickers that go on your containers and tell their computer what the container’s tare weight is, whereas others will weigh your containers first and then provide you with a note that has the “tare” weight of each.