The Best Places To Shop Online If You Want To Save Money And Live A Zero Waste Lifestyle

These online stores are committed to recyclable and compostable packaging and naturally sourced materials.

August 24, 2017
zero waste online shopping
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Bulk bins and bring-your-own-bag-friendly stores are at the core of zero-waste living. But what if you don’t have the perfect co-op or a stunning package-free store in your neighborhood? Luckily, there are a bunch of online shops that can help you cut your waste and your environmental impact while still supporting small, independent business.

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But wait, what about the packaging problem that comes with having goods shipped right to your door? While shopping online isn’t the absolutely perfect solution in the quest to be waste-free—carbon emissions and packing materials among the main concerns—it can still help you prevent waste overall. A cloth napkin bought online will end up saving hundreds or thousands of its paper counterparts for example, and some of these companies even use refillable bottles than can be returned in prepaid envelopes. We’ve scoped out some of the businesses with the best zero-waste practices on the internet—and you can also rest assured that every shop here ships with 100 percent recyclable and/or compostable packaging unless otherwise stated.

Related: 17 Ways To Save Money And Produce Less Trash—According To Zero Wasters

bamboo toothbrush
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Best shops for reusables

A handful of reusable products, like glass lunch containers, cloth napkins and kitchen towels, and handkerchiefs, can save you pounds of trash—and a good chunk of change—over the course of the year.

Package Free Shop

Package Free Shop is a great place to start to amassing your own collection of low-impact reusables. You’ll find an extensive selection including safety razors, unpackaged personal care items, stainless steel containers, plastic-free dish brushes, and joggers made from fabric scraps. The shop is also a great place to get ideas for easy zero-waste swaps. Bonus: Everything the shop carries was shipped to them without any plastic packaging.
 

Life Without Plastic

Long before zero waste was grabbing headlines, Life Without Plastic has been a key source for people looking for sustainable products that won’t end up in a landfill at the end of their life. The shop has a massive selection of everyday products and reusables that are all 100 percent plastic free.
 

Tiny Yellow Bungalow

Georgia-based Tiny Yellow Bungalow only sells items that the owner herself has tried and endorsed. From plastic-free water filters to a Mason jar pour-over coffee and tea kit, you can trust your purchase won’t disappoint.
 

Etsy

With everything from handkerchiefs to produce bags to reusable face pads, Etsy is heaven for vintage and homemade zero-waste items. Just be sure to ask about packaging before you buy or request low waste packaging when you order.

(Instead of tossing that old milk jug, turn it into a DIY watering can. Instructions in the video below.)

zero waste laundry detergent
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Best shops for cleaning supplies

Nontoxic, environmentally safe cleaning products can be delivered to your door in refillable pouches so you never run out.
 

Refill Revolution

Refill Revolution offers true bulk cleaning supplies. Simply order a refill of one of their cleaners like all-purpose cleaner or dish soap and return the prepaid plastic refill pouch once your container at home is full. The pouch acts like an envelope so all you have to do is make sure the cap is secure and drop it in the mail.

“Many people don’t have the luxury of having a local storefront to provide a refill servicewe are here for those people,” said Brittney LaGesse, owner of Refill Revolution. “We recognize that this isn’t the ‘perfect solution,’ but we know that the alternative to not having a service like this is far worse.”
 

Fillaree

Fillaree out of North Carolina also offers bulk refills of handmade cleaning supplies in a glass bottle.

Related: 8 Natural Cleaning Recipes With Essential Oils (That Actually Work!)

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Best shops for personal care products

You don’t have to swear off traditional shampoo and conditioner or boycott shaving to go zero waste unless you want to! Many stores now sell unpackaged staples or even waste-free refills.
 

Juniperseed Mercantile

Juniperseed Mercantile carries just about everything you could want from sunscreen in a compostable tube to sugared peach vegan lip gloss. Oh yeah, and it’s all handmade in small batches and comes in reusable or compostable containers.
 

Zero Market

Zero Market carries harder to find items like tooth powder, mosquito spray, and makeup remover in glass bottles.
 

Related: 11 Best Organic And Natural Shampoos That Work Just As Well As The Stuff With Chemicals
 

Dental Lace

Dental Lace sells silk floss in cute refillable containers. The shop owners compost their own dental lace, though they are still working on getting compostable certification for the product.
 

Refill Revolution

In addition to cleaning supplies, you can also pick up bulk refills of body wash, conditioner, hand soap, and almond oil from Refill Revolution.
 

Plaine Products

Send your empties back with Plaine Products. The company includes a prepaid label so you can return your empty shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles and the aluminum containers can be sterilized and refilled. Their shipping containers are made out of 100 percent post-consumer/post-industrial waste and are reusable too.

Related: The 6 Most Harmful Ingredients Found In Body Lotion

loose leaf tea
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Best shops for coffee and tea

Loose leaf tea is a great way to prevent waste from your warm beverage. Tea bags often contain plastic fibers that cannot be composted, while loose leaf can go straight into your backyard bin.
 

Arbor Teas

Arbor Teas carries a wide selection of organic loose leaf teas including black, green, white, oolong, pu-erh, rooibos, and herbal tea. The company takes waste seriously. Arbor Teas offsets the carbon emissions from shipping, uses post-consumer waste shipping materials, recycles their shipping materials, and skips air transit to reduce emissions. The tea itself comes in backyard-compostable packages regardless of what size you buy. Simply transfer your tea to an airtight container once open to keep your leaves fresh.
 

Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

Coffee is a little more difficult online. A few roasters offer compostable coffee bags, like Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, but it’s likely best to ask your favorite coffee shop or local roaster about their zero waste bulk options.

Related: 5 Ways To Be The Best Coffee Drinker You Can Be

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Best shops for housewares

Obviously you can always hit up thrift stores and antique shops for quality housewares—but sometimes you have to patiently wait weeks or even months until you stumble across the perfect piece. With these online shops, though, you can easily broaden your search to find exactly what you've been looking for. 
 

Wild Minimalist

A mix of vintage and new, Wild Minimalist carries stylish market baskets, oodles of kitchen storage containers, and eco-friendly, plastic-free pet toys from Oakland, California.
 

General Store

The California-based General Store has unique home goods, jewelry, and apparel by creative craftsmen (although their shipping may not be completely recyclable or compostable).
 

Yore

Yore carries useful goods like condiment containers and beautiful objects with minimalist flair. Based in Longmont, Colorado, the couple behind the shop ensures that each product is practical, intelligently designed, and responsibly made.

Related: I Swapped My Tissues For Cloth Hankies—Here’s Why I’m Never Going Back
 

BuyMeOnce

Long-lasting goods are at the core of a zero waste life. BuyMeOnce is a shop that carries items that are built to last a lifetime. The company carries sports equipment, clothes, and appliances that are meant to withstand daily use for decades.

“It is rarely talked about but one of the best things we can do for the environment is to make our things last longer,” said BuyMeOnce founder and CEO, Tara Button, “by making a t-shirt last two years instead of one, you save 24 percent of the carbon emissions.”

BuyMeOnce’s strict buying criteria make it a great site to discover companies and products you can trustand pass down. However, since the manufacturer ships the products directly to you, shipping materials aren’t guaranteed to be waste free.

Related: I Stopped Buying Paper Towels And Napkins Years Ago—Here’s How I Manage

 

 
 
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Best shops for clothing

Sustainable fashion is growing more popular. While you can find new zero waste apparel from designers like Zero Waste Daniel and Tonlé, used clothing is even better. Buying used not only saves you money and waste, but it also keeps resource-intensive materials out of the landfill.
 

thredUP

If you’re tired of the crammed selection at your local used clothing store, thredUP might be a good option. The company is the largest online retailer of secondhand clothes, shoes, and accessories. ThredUP aims to reuse 100 percent of the items they receive through resale, recycling, and repurposing, and in 2016 they reportedly saved 14 million items from the landfill. While the company isn’t completely waste free (expect to find a post-consumer waste tag, tissue, and sticker with your order), they are creating a large market for used clothing and they make shopping used relatively painless.

Related: 9 Things You Should Always Buy Used

local shops
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How to find more resources near you

The internet is also a great place to find local zero-waste havens near you. Blogger Celia Ristow from Litterless has an impressive online list of brick-and-mortar zero waste shops around the US and Canada. You can find healthy, package-free foods at a farmers’ market in your area with Local Harvest. Craigslist and Nextdoor also are great ways to shop your neighborhood without having to aggressively hunt down garage sales.

Related: 8 Vintage Kitchen Items You Should Always Buy At The Thrift Store