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Tired of tossing plastic containers? Refill your shampoo, house cleaners, spices and olive oil at these zero-waste shops

Dakota Kim  – February 10, 2020 | Updated February 19, 2020

The zero-waste lifestyle might just be reaching its apotheosis in our era. With so many bulk and refill shops opening up, there’s no reason to throw away shampoo and detergent containers anymore. But these shops aren’t stopping there—many of them are also following a no-tox lifestyle, subscribing to EWG’s Skin Deep Standards and providing for every basic need, even beyond food, beauty, and household cleaners. The old-fashioned general store has been reborn in a modern format, providing for all your daily needs, from refillable dental floss containers to beeswax food wraps.

A Female-Centric Focus

Sustain LA in Highland Park is a woman-owned shop where beauty is a forethought, not an afterthought. Realizing that women in the neighborhood have extensive needs, there isn’t just one kind of shampoo, but several kinds for specific purposes, including scalp therapy, restorative, and revitalizing. Get your dental lace container, reusable facial rounds, and platinum-silicone storage bags. Scoop up your loose teas here or grab some stainless steel ice pop molds. You can get crafty with an extensive collection of DIY ingredients like arrowroot powder, carnauba wax, Epsom salts, bentonite clay, borax, citric acid, baking soda, and sea salt. You can even get bulk organic chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, and rose petals here for beauty projects. Sustain also pops up at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market and the Hollywood Farmers’ Market in case you can’t make it all the way to Highland Park.

You’ve Attained Food Nirvana

Been doing those good deeds of shopping bulk at your Sprouts or Whole Foods? You can ascend to an even higher level of gourmet eco-shopping with a trip to Rainbow Grocery in the Mission District of San Francisco, a worker-owned cooperative. You can pick up liquid sweeteners, soup starters, dried fruit and nuts, loose-leaf teas, miso, chocolate, spices galore, grains, flours, legumes, cereals, pastas, oils, and nut butters. It’s not just that they have all of that, but that the selection within each category is stupendous—the kimchi and sauerkraut section features so many rare types, it can feel overwhelming to choose just a couple. The flour section boasts mainstream rarities like amaranth, quinoa, and almond. You can also get your shampoo and Dr. Bronner’s in refill format. Unlike other groceries, bulk is the norm here.

No Container? No Prob

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Seattle’s Public Goods and Services goes one step further than many refill shops, providing uncommon items like mosquito spray, styling gel, shaving cream and even cocoa butter wafers. It also serves up what has by now become the usual stuff in zero waste shops, including house cleaning sprays, beauty products and storage containers like bento boxes. The Dans Le Sac bags are particularly attractive cotton carry-alls that neatly encompass baguettes and let bread breathe, preventing mold. You can bring your own container, buy one, or even borrow one from Public’s donation bin. The shop offers regular, pump and spray lids, and will refill all your containers while you’re shopping or you can even pop out and take a stroll around the other shops on the block.

No-Tox Refills for the Family

Homefill in Denver offers no-tox home cleaning products and beauty products, along with reusable silverware and bamboo brushes. This shop is thoughtfully family-oriented, with refillable 30 SPF sunscreen for adults and 50 SPF for the kids. The beauty products are extensive, including body scrubs and bubble bath. Bonus: Most of its stuff is also local Colorado-made fare like Colorado Breeze, Little Moon, and Renaud Naturals, so your products aren’t burning a ton of carbon credits getting to the shop. You can also refill your Happy Leaf Kombucha here.

A One-Stop Shop

Otherwild in Los Feliz makes restocking your bath essentials feel glam, allowing you to dive nose-first into the bins to select from the scents emanating from their bulk supplies. At this pretty little graphic design studio and artisans’ emporium, choose from zero-waste bulk Earl Grey deodorant, seaweed shampoo and conditioner bars, and a treasure trove of refillable products by great companies like Meow Meow Tweet, EO, Good Fight Herb Co., and Biokleen. They also peddle all the on-the-go reusable gear you need to make the transition to the zero-waste lifestyle, including handblown glass straws, silverware sets, totes, beeswax wraps, and snack and sandwich containers.

The Adaptogenic Answer to Your Prayers

Wild Terra, a sunny one-room emporium in Highland Park, Los Angeles, stocks a rainbow of herbs, tea, spices, and oils, along with a compact selection of beauty and cleaning products. Adaptogenic health is a specialty here. From lion’s mane to reishi to chaga, whatever your mushroom match, chances are this magical shop has it whole, sliced, or powdered. Whether your wellness armor is MCT oil, apple cider vinegar, local honey, or eucalyptus oil, this is a prime spot for getting you through cold season. BYO container and get 10% off bulk dry goods. Beauty products include deodorant cream made with local California sagebrush and arrowroot, as well as the cleansing version of your favorite latte: a golden milk soap saponified with raw goat milk, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger.