No waste, zero waste—how is this even possible? Even single fruits and vegetables come trussed up layers of plastic. Store owners say it’s more hygienic and it prolongs food shelf-life, but it’s really just convenient for stocking shelves and for differentiating between organic from non-organic. But inspiring change-makers are showing us how we can live a zero-waste lifestyle by tweaking some basics. Start with the 5 Rs (in this order): refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. The aim is not to recycle more, but to actually recycle less.
Use less, recycle less, throw out less … see the pattern?
So which cities around the world are setting forward-thinking and sustainable goals for how we live our lives now, and for the future? Zero waste means designing and managing products and infrastructure to save on materials. It also means changing attitudes toward our roles as consumers and holding each other accountable for our actions.
Hong Kong, SAR
This city of 7.3 million people is in a garbage pickle, to put it lightly. We make a lot more trash than we can dispose of. China no longer wants our rubbish, and current estimates give our landfills until about 2020 before they’re at capacity. Living zero waste is a way to keep that rubbish out of landfills and incinerators completely. Landfills should really be a last resort.
Refined Travellers is pleased to announce the recent opening of the zero-waste and bulk foods store, Live Zero, in the Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood of Hong Kong. The shop currently sells such goods as dried grains and pulses; natural body care items; household cleaners, plastic-free homeware; spices; and oils. Bring your bags and containers, or pick up some up there to fill on the spot. This is the 25-year-old’s second zero-waste store: Tamsin’s first store in Central stocks home and kitchen ware, and bodycare items.
Live Zero Bulk Foods
Address: 24 High Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
Hours: 11–8pm, daily
A little bit further out of Hong Kong proper, The Edgar store in Tsim Sha Tsui is the city’s first first bulk grocery store. Like Live Zero, it offers zero waste products, bulk foods and vegan options but it goes one step further and stocks organic produce as well. The no-waste ethos cuts down on packaging waste and these savings are then passed on to the consumer. While the great thing about this store is that is also offers online shopping, it has a ways to go with the website and things on offer.
Great quality, lovely service and all round great experience
. Healthy yummy food for various options—snacks, treats, ingredient s, stocking fillers …
—Claire McLennan, Hong Kong
Address: Shop 201, Level 2, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Road, TST
Phone: +852 3101 3030
Hours: Open Monday–Sunday, 10:30a.m.–9:30p.m.
While many of us read co-warrior Bea Johnson’s ‘Zero Waste Home’ call-to-arms and dabbled with composting, Paris-born Fanny Moritz didn’t waste time. She read it, loved it, and decided to open a zero-waste e-store, NO!W No Waste. The online store stocks home- and bathroom ware, kitchen goods and starter kits for those who … don’t know where to start. Now for Valentine’s Day, NO!W No Waste is offering a kit for your loved ones.
Choose your products from country of origin, level of environmental impact, and even your commitment to a zero-waste lifestyle. With demand so high, the store now ships to Macau and Singapore. Fanny and her gang at NO!W No Waste have been guest contributors for Refined Travellers, and she pens a blog on the NO!W No Waste website.
Ski the hills, hit the beach and go hiking, all in one day right? Yes, we’ve all heard about this utopia that is (my hometown) Vancouver. Biased? Nope, I don’t need to be. This temperate city holds its own with outstanding year-on-year environmental accolades like “World’s Greenest City”, “Favourite Canadian City”, and “Most Liveable City in North America”. Vancouver aims to reduce solid landfill or incinerator waste by 50 per cent from 2008 levels.
That’s a load of rubbish.
Soap Dispensary & Kitchen Staples
It’s no wonder, then, that the city’s first dedicated soap-refill shop and now Vancouver’s first zero-waste grocery store, The Soap Dispensary & Kitchen Staples store opened for business in November 2017. This followed the footsteps of the Salt Spring Island Green Zero Waste Grocery. You’ll find all the pantry staples like cooking oils, honey, vinegar, soy sauce and tamari, all on tap. There’s also herbs, spices, seeds, berries, cheese and dips. Follow the store’s progress on Instagram.
The online shop is coming soon, so watch this space. The Soap Dispensary also holds DIY workshops to teach you how to be a big zero (waster, that is).
And true to their goal: there’s not a shred of plastic to be seen anywhere in the store.
3718 Main Street
Address: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Hours: Open daily 10:00–6:00
Contact: email@example.com; +1(604) 568 3141
Nada brings you just that—Nada. Well, that and fairly, ethically and responsibly sourced foods and products, of course. From pop-up to successful start-up, Nada was selected as a Top 25 Venture for SheEO—a network of women funders supporting women entrepreneurs. The business is not just trying to do well, it’s trying to do good as well. Well, well! Since its inception in 2015, Nada has been donating 1 per cent of sales to grassroots non-profits addressing social and environmental issues.
Good news! Nada will break ground on its bricks-and-mortar shop in February 2018 and will finally be able to satisfy all of the Lower Mainland’s zero-waste needs. Which technically, should be nothing?
It adds about an hour per shopping trip because you have to source things from different places. Once you get your bulk items, then you need to get bread from a bakery and find a butcher that’s willing to sell meat without packaging it. You have to piece things together.
—Ally Stock, Zero Waste Vancouver community member
What do we like about zero-waste shopping in Vancouver? Nada.
Is recycling important in Germany, you ask? It’s one of the EU’s top recyclers, according to reports on European waste management. In fact, Germany sends almost no garbage to landfills. Germans get a bad rap for being humourless, but they’re positively GLEEFUL about recycling.
There’s a food store in Berlin’s trendy Kreuzberg district that is (almost) zero waste: Original Unverpackt. Everything in OU is organic and sold in bulk—more than 400 products at time of press. What a novel idea: only buy what you need. Shop online or in the store, for pretty much all your zero-waste lifestyle needs. The website is super user friendly, albeit in German with a little help from Google translate.
If you’re in Germany, enjoy free shipping for orders over €40.
Address: Wiener Straße 16, 10999 Berlin Kreuzberg, Görlitzer Bahnhof
Hours: Mon–Sat 10:00–19:30
Like Nada, Bulk Market opened in 2017 as a popup shop in London. It’s now crowdfunding to secure a permanent spot for zero wasters who support this social enterprise tackling food and packaging waste. Most of the produce comes under a 50 miles radius and is grown or made to organic standards, or certified by the Soil Association. There’s no overstocking, very little waste food, and the principle of a circular economy and closed loop sourcing is Bulk Market’s jam, man.
We’re sad to say that Bulk Market didn’t meet the pledges necessary to secure its permanent home, but it will continue on with its zero-waste crusade. Follow the store’s blog and support local businesses like Bulk Market to bring about change in our shopping habits, one wrapper at a time.
Keep watching this space for their new location.
Old address: 494 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AE
New address: December 24–February 28, 2018, closed for relocation (TBA)
This entire town in Japan has been zero waste since 2003. What an inspiration!
Written By: Adriane Rysz