Shopping Guide: A-to-Z Reduced Waste Options

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This post will be an ongoing, continuously updated one as I discover new products and methods of purchasing (mostly) food staples. This is largely a reference for myself for which products I have zero excuse to purchase in plastic anymore! Unless otherwise stated, if I state that something is available in bulk, that means you can fill your own container as long as you indicate the tare/weight of the container. 

A: Almond extract (Simply Organic brand comes in glass with metal top); Apple sauce (often comes in glass jars, which can be reused or recycled; also a good egg replacement for baking; I plan to make my own when apples are in season next Fall!); Apricots, dried (available in bulk at Urban Spices vendor at West Side Market)

B: Baking powder (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Baking soda (often comes in cardboard boxes that can be recycled or composted); Basil leaf (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Bay leaf (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Beans (available in bulk at basically any grocery store bulk section; can freeze in glass jars with a couple inches space on top); Beer (best option is growlers; unfortunately the cardboard cartons beer cans and bottles are packaged in are coated with plastic to prevent condensation from freezing so they are often unable to be recycled like other paper materials); Beeswax (bulk beads available at Earth Fare in the cosmetics/health section; can be used for homemade lotions, chapstick, and soap); Bentonite clay (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section; used in homemade toothpaste and dry shampoo); Blueberries, dried (available in bulk at Urban Spices vendor at West Side Market); Bottle brush (compostable bottle brush from Tiny Yellow Bungalow or this one from Bring Your Own for narrower neck bottles); Bread (fresh-baked loaves, package-free at Earth Fare and Whole Foods; make your own! I’ve been using a bread machine I found for $10 at Goodwill); Butter (I love this vegan butter recipe that can be made with plastic-free ingredients, including vegetable oil, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, and a couple other things; can also purchase bulk butter at a couple vendors at West Side Market)

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C: Caraway seeds (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Cardamom seed powder (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Castile soap (many zero-wasters still purchase Dr. Bronner’s soap since it comes in a large container but it is still plastic; I just discovered Taylor’s soap, which comes in glass; when checking out online there are options for completely plastic-free packaging; plastic pump is optional as well!); Cat food (Lake Erie Pet Food Co. has bulk cat food at some local farmer’s markets; they also do deliveries but this includes plastic; Wellness brand has a recycling program with TerraCycle for their plastic packaging); Cat litter (sWheat Scoop litter purchased at Giant Eagle); Cayenne powder (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Cheese (various types of feta and fresh mozzarella available in bulk at multiple vendors at West Side Market, including Mediterranean Imported Foods); Chili pepper flakes (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Cherries, dried (available in bulk at Urban Spices vendor at West Side Market); Chips (I’ve found a couple of brands in brown paper bags but they have a plastic coating interior that I assume makes it non-recyclable; Garden of Eatin’ and Terra brand chips have a recycling program for their bags through TerraCycle; I’m currently on the wait list for this program though, so I’m not sure when I will receive a shipping label); Chocolate syrup (recipe with cocoa powder); Cinnamon, sticks and powder (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Citric acid (available in bulk at Earth Fare; used in some homemade toothpaste and laundry detergent recipes); Coconut oil (available in glass jars at Target; my new makeup remover and used in the homemade toothpaste mentioned above); Coffee (whole beans available in bulk at Earth Fare and Whole Foods, Cleveland Coffee Co. has in compostable packaging); Conditioner (conditioner bars available package-free at Lush); Corn meal and starch (available in bulk at Whole Foods and Earth Fare); Cottage Cheese (available in bulk at Irene Dever’s Dairy at West Side Market); Couscous (available in bulk at Earth Fare and Urban Herbs at West Side market); Cranberries, dried (available in bulk at Whole Foods); Currants (available in bulk at Whole Foods)

D: Dental Floss (plastic-free dental floss made of natural silk in metal container; can order refills without the container); Deodorant (package-free, aluminum-free deodorant from Lush); Dill weed (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Dishwasher detergent tabs (I’m looking forward to trying this recipe for detergent tabs when I run out of my current supply; I’ll likely use ice cube trays I already own unless I can find a silicone baking tray second-hand; all ingredients can be found or made plastic-free; ingredients include super washing soda, baking soda, iodine-free salt, and lemon juice; If You Care brand makes biodegradable dishwasher tabs that come in a small cardboard box); Dry shampoo (equal parts corn starch and bentonite clay, add cocoa powder for brown hair)

E: Edamame (I’ve struggled to find edamame not packaged in a plastic container or frozen in non-recyclable/compostable bags; one pricey option is to fill your own container from salad bars; I recently did this at Whole Foods)

F: Facial soap (Tea tree charcoal facial soap bar by Meow Meow Tweet comes plastic-free in a small paper box, available at Target and online); Fennel seed (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Fenugreek seed (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Figs, dried (available in bulk at Urban Herbs at West Side Market); Flour (white and whole wheat available in bulk at Whole Foods and Earth Fare); Frozen fruit and vegetables (Stahlbush Island Farms uses 100% biodegradable bags but they are lined with plastic and simply have an additive them allows the bag to biodegrade in ideal circumstances)

G: Garlic powder (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Ginger powder (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Gloves, household cleaning (If You Care brand makes natural rubber gloves, packaged loose in a paper box); Golden raisins (available in bulk at Whole Foods); Granola (available in pretty much every grocery store bulk section); Gum (Glee gum and Simply Gum brands use a plastic-free gum base -*surprise* most chewing gums contain plastic- and come in cardboard boxes without any plastic wrapping)

H: Hand soap (Huntington Soap Co. liquid hand soap is available in large glass containers that are nice for reuse); Himalayan Sea Salt (available in glass container with metal top at World Market and in bulk at Earth Fare and Whole Foods); 

I:

J: Jojoba oil (cannot recall the brand, but saw options at Whole Foods)

K:

L: Lemon juice (squeeze extra juice from lemons in ice cube trays for future use; I’ve been using the cubes in smoothies); Lentils (available in nearly every grocery store bulk section, including Whole Foods, Dave’s Market, and Earth Fare); Lotion (Moon Melt Lotion Bar available at Earth Fare comes in a tin container in paper packaging; Lush makes “naked” body conditioner bars; I just used the “Buck’s Fizz” version, which smells amazing but the bar doesn’t last very long; also many recipes available using shea butter)

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M: Menstrual pads (menstrual cups are a great option, but there are countless brands of reusable cloth pads and liners; I just purchased some from Pink Lemonade shop); Milk (available in glass containers with $2 bottle deposit from Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and Kroger; one brand I’ve purchased is Homestead Creamery; alternatively, make your own soy/nut/oat milk!), Muesli (available in bulk at Whole Foods)

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N: Nuts (available in bulk at basically any grocery store bulk section; peanuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts all available at Earth Fare);

O: Oats (steel-cut and rolled oats available in bulk at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and Dave’s Market); Olives (available in bulk at Mediterranean Imported Foods at West Side Market); Olive oil (many come in glass bottles; can purchase a glass bottle to fill then reuse at Giant Eagle); Onion powder (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Oregano (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Orzo (various types available in bulk at Urban Herbs at West Side Market; whole wheat orzo available in bulk at Whole Foods)

P: Papaya, dried (available in bulk at Whole Foods); Paprika (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section);  Parsley leaf (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section)Pasta (fresh pasta available in bulk at Ohio City Pasta vendor at West Side Market; various kinds available, including whole wheat, available in bulk at Whole Foods; if bulk unavailable, opt for a cardboard box with minimal plastic windows); Pierogies (fresh made, bulk pierogies at a couple of vendors at West Side Market); Pot scraper (organic bamboo pot scraper from Bring Your Own); Produce bags (many types available on Etsy and Amazon; I use Simple Ecology brand unbleached, organic cotton mesh bags, which I love; tare weight is listed on the tag)

Q: Quinoa (various types- red, white, rainbow- available in bulk in almost all bulk food sections)

R: Raisins (available in bulk at Whole Foods); Razors (stainless steel safety razors are a classy alternative to disposable plastic razors; I just purchased the Wowe brand on Amazon, and there is zero plastic in the packaging as well); Red Chili Flakes (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Rosemary leaf (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section)

S: Sage leaf (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Sesame seeds (available in bulk hulled at Whole Foods; can be used to make tahini)Shampoo (shampoo bars available package-free at Lush); Shea butter (Taylor’s comes in a glass jar with quantities ranging from 2 oz to 4 lbs! This is from the same website I got the castile soap from so it can be delivered completely free of plastic; shea butter can be used for some homemade lotions and eye shadow); Sour cream (available in bulk at a dairy vendor at West Side Market); Soy beans (available in bulk at Whole Foods and Earth Fare; use to make homemade soy milk); Spices (several specific spices/herbs are mentioned elsewhere, but brands available in glass with metal tons include Frontier Co-op, Simply Organic, and Spice Islands; Penzey’s Spices and some Trader Joe’s products come in glass but with plastic tops); Scrubber (copper scrubber for pots, pans, sinks, other kitchen surfaces); Sugar (granulated/white and brown sugar available in bulk at Whole Foods); Sunscreen (with my history of melanoma, I’m super cautious to stray from my 50+ SPF Neutrogena, but I plan to discuss this 30 SPF baby sunscreen that comes in a glass jar with my dermatologist at my next apt; other great tips/options available here)

T: Tea (available in bulk at Earth Fare); Tea tree oil (available in a glass bottle but with plastic top by Desert Essence available at Whole Foods);  Thyme (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Tofu (available in bulk at Annemarie’s Dairy at West Side Market); Toilet cleaner tabs (I just tried this recipe for toilet cleaner tabs using citric acid, baking soda, corn starch, water and essential oils; they were kind of crumbly so I next time I’m going to pack them tighter and use a silicon mold instead of a plastic ice cube tray); Toilet paper (Who Gives a Crap recycled and bamboo toilet paper; delivered plastic-free); Tomatoes, sun-dried (available in bulk at Urban Spices vendor at West Side Market); Toothpaste (numerous recipes involving combinations of baking soda, coconut oil, bentonite clay, salt, xylitol, and essential oils for flavor; I’ve tried this paste but I think it got a little funky too early from using filtered tap water vs. distilled and dipping my toothbrush into it as opposed to using something to apply it; I also made and use a tooth powder with equal parts bentonite clay and baking soda); Turmeric root, ground (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health sections); Thyme (available in bulk at Earth Fare in cosmetics/health section); Tzatziki Sauce (available in bulk at a couple of vendors at West Side Market; also super easy to make at home)

U:

V: Vanilla beans (available in bulk at Urban Spices vendor at West Side Market); Vegetable scrub brush (Lola Eco Clean bamboo and tampico scrub brush from Amazon; plastic-free packaging) 

W: Water filter (Kishu charcoal offers activated charcoal sticks plastic-free and in various sizes to purify drinking water)Witch hazel (alcohol-free distillate available from Taylor’s in an 8 oz glass bottle; works as an excellent facial toner to reduce acne; also helpful for hemorrhoids and bug bites)

X:

Y: Yellow mustard seed (available in bulk at Earth Fare in the cosmetics/health section); Yogurt (Greek and regular flavored yogurts available in bulk at various vendors at West Side Market; White Mountain Bulgarian yogurt comes in large glass jars but has a decent sized plastic label on; Nounos comes in small glass jars)

Z: Za’atar (available in bulk at Urban Spices vendor at West Side Market)

Things I have yet to find plastic-free: hydrogen peroxide (it needs to be in an opaque container, not sure if amber glass is sufficient)

 

Zero-Waste Online Stores: 

https://wildminimalist.com/    Free shipping within the U.S.

https://www.bringyourownllc.com/

https://www.tinyyellowbungalow.com/

 

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