Have you seen that TikTok of the mom that refills her fridge every month? She fills carafes with laundry detergent and scent booster beads, occasionally a Tide Pod here and there. Her jars of flour, sugar and chocolate chips are always full. Well, that lifestyle could be your reality, and even better with zero-waste.
Below is a guide to zero waste grocery stores around Metro Detroit, what they are, where they are, and more.
What is a zero-waste/refill grocery store?
Refill stores or zero-waste grocery stores provide their customers with everyday groceries without single-use plastics. These spaces have large containers of products like all-purpose cleaners, hand soaps, dish soaps, laundry detergent, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, face and body wash, as well as various nuts and seeds, dried fruits and vegetables, granola, snacks, chocolate, spices, coffee, tea, baking goods, the list goes on and on.
These refill stations charge you based on weight. You take a container from your home into the store, like a mason jar, they weigh your container prior to your refill and they charge you for the amount of product you take.
When you reuse the same container over and over, just refilling the product inside, you are reducing the need for new containers. This reduces the energy used to make them. Not only are these stores helping to cut down on single-use plastics, but this helps to reduce food waste, as customers are encouraged to only buy what they need. Refill stores may prevent many containers from ending up in landfills or oceans.
A hot debate at the moment surrounds recycling. Some argue we should be investing our money in reusable containers rather than recycling. National Geographic reports that 91% of plastic is not actually recycled.
Over the last 60 years, there have been more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic products created, most of which are disposable and end up in the trash.
To put this in perspective, two grand pianos weigh one ton. A female cow, a small electric car, a pop-up camper, and a whale’s testicles, all weigh one ton. 8.3 billion metric tons would be 25,000 Empire State Buildings, 80 million blue whales, or 822,000 Eiffel Towers.
That’s a lot of plastic.
Whitney Wagner and Shannon Sweetwood of St. Clair recently launched their zero-waste refill store, called Refill Emporium. They report that their initiative has already prevented over 1,000 single-use plastic bottles from entering circulation.
These small steps, these businesses, could lead to a big change and a happier environment.
Where can I shop for refills?
Below is a list of various types of refill and bulk grocery stores around Metro Detroit, with help from Litterless, a site to help consumers find sustainable resources.
Better Health Market - Bulk dry goods like grains, beans, nuts, snacks, coffee, and spices.
Fresh Thyme - Bulk grains, beans, nuts, snacks, spices, candy, tea, coffee, and more
Dearborn Bulk Foods - Bulk grains, baking supplies, nuts, snacks, candy, trail mixes, spices, teas, coffees, nut butters, and more.
Hashems Roastery and Market - Bulk spices, grains, coffee, flour, and more.
Eastern Market - Package-free fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, etc.
Midtown Composting - Cloth diaper pick-up and laundering service.
Rocky’s Historic Eastern Market - Bulk specialty flours, nuts, dried fruit, spices, coffee, and other Michigan-made goods.
Walking Lightly - Bulk home cleaning and personal care supplies, shampoo, dish soap, etc.
Western Market - Bulk nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.
St. Clair Shores
Bulk Food Marketplace - Bulk grains, flours, and baking supplies, pastas candy, coffee, and more.
Refill Emporium - Bulk household cleaning and personal care products, lotions, oral hygiene products, body wash, etc.
86 Plastic Co. - Bulk cleaning and personal care products, sunscreen, toothpaste tablets, hydrogen peroxide, all-purpose cleaner, etc.
The Red Oak Refillery - Bulk dishwasher powder, all-purpose cleaners, shampoo, and more.
Ypsilanti Food Co-op - Bulk grains, flours, baking supplies, beans, tea, honey, and more.