Packaging tops the list of American municipal waste
According to CNBC, 77 million tons of discarded packaging is delivered to landfills each year. As a result, packaging is the top contributor to municipal waste. Not only that, much of the world’s trash doesn’t make it to the landfill, and pollutes the natural environment. One result of this is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of plastic roughly the size of Texas.
A movement towards “zero waste”
You may have heard of a growing movement called “zero waste,” founded by blogger, speaker, and author Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home. Zero wasters are individuals who try to eliminate waste as much as possible to combat this issue. An easy way to avoid unnecessary packaging is by buying in bulk. To do this, you bring and fill your own container at a store rather than buying a pre-packaged option. Buying only what you need also reduces food and product waste!
How to shop package-free
When buying bulk goods, reuse plastic and paper bags, bring lightweight cloth bags, or any other container you have. Glass jars from your recycling bin can be revived into beautiful storage solutions, like in the image below. Just be sure to ask the cashier for the empty “tare” weight before you fill up. Write it down on the container or in a note on your phone. That way, they can subtract the weight of the container at checkout. For a short video tutorial, click here.
If your local bulk store isn’t accommodating, you want to save time at checkout, or don’t want to lug bulky containers to the store, reusing lightweight bags is a simple solution.
Without further ado, here’s a list of some of our favorite bulk shops in Seattle. Read on for descriptions of our favorites, or go straight to our full Seattle bulk stores map on Google Maps! Be sure click “follow” if you’re a Google Maps user to easily access it on the go and check back for updates. Once you follow, you’ll be able to find it on Google Maps app or webpage through the menu > Your places > Saved > Seattle bulk stores.
- PCC (multiple locations) – PCC puts an emphasis on local, organic items as much as possible. In addition, they boast an extensive selection of bulk items, primarily food. View a full list of their bulk selection here. You can also call any location to inquire about specific item availability.
- Central Co-op (Capitol Hill) – This co-op grocery store emphasizes local, organic & sustainable foodstuffs and products. They have many items in bulk including dry foods, herbs, and spices. Furthermore, they offer beauty products and ingredients to make your own.
- Ballard Market (Ballard) – Ballard market has an extensive bulk food and coffee section. They even sell beer for growler refills at a self-serve tap.
- Thanh Son Tofu (Chinatown) – They sell bulk fried tofu of various flavors like plain, onion, lemongrass, and spicy lemongrass. Expect to pay $2-$3 per pound depending on the flavor.
- Haus Mylk (Delivery or Central District) – This is a Seattle alternative “milk” delivery service. We consider them bulk because they deliver in returnable and reusable glass jars. If you live outside of their delivery zone, you can pick up your order from their Central District location. Currently, their flavor options include coconut, almond, hazelnut, and chocolate hazelnut.
- Seattle Chinese Herb & Grocery (International District) – They offer traditional Chinese herbs, mushrooms, and other dry ingredients in bulk.
- Sweet Alchemy (University District) – This ice cream shop sells take-home ice cream in reusable and returnable jars.
- Marketime Foods (Fremont) – Here you can find Rainbow Cloud Kombucha at a self-service tap.
Bulk DIY beauty and homeopathy
While certain herbs and DIY beauty ingredients can be found at other shops, these picks go above-and-beyond with their selections. Check their websites or call ahead if you’re looking for something specific.
- Dandelion Botanical Co (Ballard) – We like them because they have an abundance of teas, herbs, and ingredients for DIY beauty projects, like liquid shampoo base. They also offer a 10% discount for customers who bring their own container.
- The Herbalist (Northeast Seattle) – This is a great place to find herbs, spices, and teas.
- Rainbow Natural Remedies (Capitol Hill) – This homeopathy shop sells herbal remedies, tinctures, supplements and organic personal care products.
- Zenith Supplies, Inc. (Roosevelt) – They sell wholesale priced oils, lotions, and waxes for DIY beauty, candle-making and aromatherapy.
- Central Co-Op (Capitol Hill) – This co-op grocery store was also mentioned earlier in the food category. We mention them again here because they have a great selection of beauty and self-care products, too. These include liquid soap, detergent, and DIY ingredients like vegetable glycerin, rosewater, castor oil, and jojoba oil to name a few.
Ready-made bulk beauty and self-care
Finding ready-made products that are gentle on the earth and your body can be a tall order. For that reason, we’ve compiled these shops that offer package-free, ready-to-use soaps, lotions, and more.
- Follain (University District) – They have a refill program for 4 types of multi-purpose liquid soaps that can be used for the body or cleaning. A first-time purchase comes with a glass bottle. Refills cost $8 for 16oz or $4 for 8oz. They also sell refillable makeup products by Kjaer Weis, and solid bar soaps with minimal, plastic-free packaging.
- New Seasons Market (Ballard) – They offer liquid products, including shampoo and conditioner, in bulk as well as package-free solid soaps.
- Lush (Downtown) – They sell package-free solid soaps, shampoos, lotions and conditioners. While not package-free, the black tubs that many Lush products come in are made with 100% recycled plastic. Additionally, customers receive a free face mask if they return 5 empty containers for recycling.
- Lin’s Vegan Soaps (at Fremont Sunday Street Market – Sundays 10am-4pm) – Package-free bar soaps are one of the easier items to come by in stores and markets, but Lin’s soaps are some of our favorite. They are locally crafted and functional works of art!