Zero Waste Grocery

Glass jars with grocery staples and vegetables in a cloth bag

Online Retailers with Returnable Packaging

Buy food items in returnable packaging and without plastic wraps and packaging! There are a few retailers that service the Palo Alto area with a mission to zero out waste from the food shopping experience.

Similar to the old days of when the milkman picked up your empty bottles, and delivered fresh milk in its place, these businesses will pack and deliver common food items like pasta, nuts, tea, and flours in durable containers. Once you’ve used up your food, they will pick up the empty containers with your next order. Some offer a plastic-free experience, so your order won’t be delivered with any plastic wrap, trays or other plastic packaging.

Business models differ, so when selecting a service, be sure to read the guidelines. Some may offer the return service only to members, while charging a jar deposit to non-members. Or, a deposit is charged with each order and refunded upon return of the containers.

DIY Zero Waste Shopping

Of course, you don’t have to use online ordering and delivery to have a Zero Waste shopping experience. Bring your reusable bag to avoid plastic or paper bags. Choose a store that offers bulk items and bring your own containers (once the COVID restrictions are lifted). Buy loose, unwrapped produce, or shop at Farmers Markets. For meats, you can order at the butcher counter to avoid plastic trays and wrap.

It is difficult to avoid packaging in today’s markets. For situations where no Zero Waste alternative is available, simply try to choose products that come in easily recyclable packaging, such as paper, glass, metal cans, or rigid plastic tubs or bottles. The most challenging items to recycle in current markets are items like clamshells and film plastic. Pouches, tubes, and foam trays are not recyclable and go in your black landfill cart.