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Welcome to Boston Zero Waste! This site is a resource for finding package-free and environmentally friendly products in the Boston area. I will include companies that align with the Zero Waste movement (such as composting services and repair shops) in the future.

Look for new store profile pages as I visit shops and markets around Boston.

What is “Zero Waste”?

Zero Waste is the idea that no material should be wasted or sent to the landfill. This philosophy focuses mainly on waste prevention and reduction rather than waste management or recycling.

For example, let’s say you buy a bag of apples at the grocery store, take them home and eat them. You are left with an empty plastic bag and several apple cores which you throw in the trash. The Zero Waste version of this scenario is that you buy loose apples at the store, bring them home in your own reusable cloth bag and compost the cores that are left after you eat the apples. This way you are sending zero waste to the landfill.

The term “Zero Waste” means different things to different people. It can mean anything from producing almost no trash at all to making one small change to reduce your trash output, like refusing plastic bags or drinking straws. Every action, no matter how big or small, makes a difference.

why go zero waste?
  • Save Money: You’ll cut down on your spending by switching from disposables to reusables (like using rags instead of paper towels or tissues). It also helps you stick to your budget because you will only bring a certain number of jars or bags to the store. You can only buy what you have containers for!
  • Be Healthier: You’ll buy less packaged/processed food and avoid cheap plastic products that leach harmful chemicals into your food and body.
  • Save Resources: You’ll reduce the amount of raw materials that need to be harvested by reusing items that have already been manufactured. This eliminates energy required to produce more new items and prevents old items from being discarded and sent to the landfill.
  • Save the Earth: Instead of sending waste to the landfill you’ll refuse single use/disposable items, reduce your waste, reuse items before discarding them, recycle materials and compost food scraps and organic materials.
  • Consumer Power: You’ll be voting with your wallet and sending a message to companies that people want safer, more sustainable and less wasteful products with minimal packaging.

WHAT DOES “BULK” MEAN?

Typically when people hear the phrase “buying in bulk” they picture buying huge packs of paper towels or large boxes of cereal at stores like Costco or BJs. People usually shop at these stores because they save money by buying products in large volumes.

In the Zero Waste community buying “bulk” means purchasing products like flours, nuts, grains, spices, etc. package-free and out of a large container at a store. These bulk stores have utensils like scoops, tongs or spoons to help customers transfer products from store bins into their own reusable bag or container. If a store offers bulk liquids, like shampoo or maple syrup, they may be dispensed out of a large jug with a pump or a container with a spigot at the bottom.   Essentially the bulk store is buying the large volume of product and the customers get to take as little or as much as they need.

There are many benefits to buying bulk products:

  • Customers are able to buy only what they need which cuts down on wasted food and money
  • Customers are able to test out a variety of new food items without committing to a large volume of product
  • Usually products are less expensive per unit price than at a regular store
  • Shopping this way creates little to no packaging waste, hence the term “Zero Waste”