New York City has some of the best grocery shopping in the world, hands down. I am not talking about regular grocery stores, I am talking about zero waste grocery shops! NYC has so so so many to choose from, it’s really paradise for us zero waste living folks. Today, let’s go through some of my favorites and explore zero waste stores in NYC style!
What is a zero waste shop?
Zero waste stores, which can be online or in person, offer consumers products that are reusable, refillable, recyclable, or returnable. They are plastic free and help people reduce their overall waste while learning about sustainability and the five R’s of zero waste at the same time.
Why consider shopping at a zero-waste shop?
Zero waste grocery shops can help you transition to a plastic-free fridge and pantry. This is something that makes my heart sing and is just so needed. Food and its packaging account for 45% of all waste sent to landfills in the USA since food packaging is mostly single-use (the majority of it being plastic and cardboard).
NYC has actually committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and part of this transition includes embracing zero waste! Some of the city’s recent commitments include introducing food scrap drop-off sites and composting programs. Their curbside organics program now serves over 3.5 million people and they have over 100 drop-off sites with more on the way. NYC is getting it together when it comes to food waste, but still has a ways to go with food packaging!
Best zero waste stores in NYC
If you are wondering, “well where is the best zero waste store near me in New York?”... Keep reading!
If you are ever in the Ithaca area I would highly recommend visiting the Green Star Natural Foods Market. I think Green Star is honestly the best zero waste grocery store NYC has to offer. When you go, bring your own containers and stock up on their enormous selection of flours, sugars, granola, cereal, dried fruit, herbs, spices, teas, peanut butter, honey, vinegar, oils, and more! This is also a great way to reuse your old Tupperware containers.
Green Star also has a healthy food discount program (called FLOWER) designed to make natural food and other eco-friendly products available to everyone, no matter your income. The FLOWER discount is for up to 13% and that can make a big difference when money is tight. I love that!
The Wally Shop is a zero waste grocery store based in Brooklyn where you can find zero waste pantry essentials, household cleaning supplies, and personal care items all delivered in reusable packaging!
Here’s how it works, you order your items online and they will be delivered in completely reusable, returnable packaging. You will be charged a deposit for the packaging, but you get it back once you return it to a UPS delivery courier on a future delivery or schedule a free pick-up on their website.
But the coolest thing about The Wally Shop is their origin story. The founder, Tamara, worked at Amazon managing the packaging and shipping category. She felt anxious and hopeless seeing all the plastic that went into their packaging, and amid a climate crisis! She realized if she took the value and convenience of Amazon delivery service, but made it more sustainable, she could be a part of the solution. How inspiring!
Ever wondered where to buy food in bulk in NYC? Precycle is actually NYC’s first package-free bulk grocery store! Also in Brooklyn, they work with local farmers and distributors so customers can really understand where their food is coming from.
For bulk food, they ask customers to bring their own reusable containers, although they also have reusable containers at the store for purchase if you forget. Once you have filled your reusable container, you bring it to the checkout to be weighed and priced (the container weight is taken off your total). If you can't make it into their in-person store, you can also shop online! Shop for fruits, veggies, pantry items, home items, personal care… they have it all.
Precycle is also a certified B corporation so you know they abide by strict environmental performance and accountability standards, in other words, they are the real deal.
The Package Free Shop is a great place to shop bulk for body care items like soaps, washes, and deodorant! You can shop their great selection online (they have free shipping on orders worth $65 or more) but they also have a permanent brick-and-mortar store in NYC! They look at not only the ingredients that go into the products and packaging they sell, but also how it is transported and disposed of. This is so important!
While many of their products are package free, some do still come in packaging. This is because some products (like menstrual cups and toothbrushes) are required by the FDA to be in packaging - but it’s still recyclable!
They also have a cool rewards program where you can earn points with them as you shop and redeem them later on for exclusive discounts. For example, following them on Instagram is worth five points while giving a product review is worth ten points… what a neat idea!
Common Good & Co is another Manhattan zero waste store that should be on your radar. They specialize in nontoxic and refillable cleaning products for your home, laundry, and body (you know I love zero waste cleaning supplies). My favorite thing they have is their Dish Soap Refill Box! It holds 2.5 gallons of dish soap, that is a lot! When the box is empty, you can ship the liner back to them to be used over and over again. Plus, it’s made with 86% less plastic, 65% PCR cardboard, and is fully biodegradable.
But Common Good & Co doesn’t just sell dish soap. They also have hand soap, laundry detergent, and spray cleaners. Like their dish soap refill box, all of their products have refills so you don't have to keep purchasing plastic cleaning bottles!
You should visit Fourth Street Co-op if you are ever in Manhattan and need any dry goods like nuts, seeds, seasonal fruits, spices, and snacks. They also have oils, vinegar, and soaps.
Fourth Street Co-op is a member-run cooperative grocer in the East Village and functions similarly to other co-ops in the sense they are communally owned and/or run. Their employees don't work for pay but instead work for a store discount. They focus on selling items that are locally grown, vegetarian, fair trade, high-quality, and organic, all at a reasonable price!
Need zero waste cleaning and personal care items in the Bronx? EcoBronx has you covered! According to their website, they started because they saw so many eco-friendly stores popping up in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but none in their area. They wanted to not only improve their community’s ability to access sustainable products, but to increase their community’s general knowledge about sustainability as a whole.
To do this, they sell sustainable, refillable, and/or package-free products like beauty oils, zero waste dish soap, laundry pods, utensils, deodorant, etc… all from mostly local vendors. They also offer educational workshops for their community members like, “why the need to reduce plastic usage” and “making your own cleanser”. They now have mobile shops and vehicles (pop-up store style), with their overall goal being to open up a permanent location where they could also offer food items.
8. Earth and Me
Earth and Me are based in Queens but offers free delivery to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens on orders over $40 (plus they deliver in an EV which is very cool). And you can get TONS of different stuff from their store. From zero waste deodorant to conditioner, to shampoo, or dish soap - they have any personal care item you might need. They also have tons of cute zero waste gift ideas!
Their founder, Kayli, started the company because she believed “sustainability, quality, and affordability shouldn't be mutually exclusive”. After going through a career transition, she saw an opportunity to buy from small-batch makers in bulk quantities, reducing prices, and of course, packaging.
Today, Earth and Me have its own brick-and-mortar store offering a full selection of zero-waste home and self-care products. Kayli and her team have also donated over $1,000 to Black-run environmental and social justice groups, as well as over $300 to organizations for clean water in Palestine, supporting Asian youth in NYC, and reforestation efforts (totaling over $4,000 to community projects). I love a company that lives out its mission!
9. Maison Jar
Maison Jar is a super cool new store NYC zero waste store in Brooklyn! They have only been open since March of this year, but they already have a great selection of items including personal care items, dry goods, oils, vinegar, spices, dairy, frozen fruits, fresh bread, supplemental powders, and more! Their items are package free and many are fair trade, organic, and vegan. For my Canadian readers, they remind me a bit of Bulk Barn!
Like Precycle, you are required to bring your own container which will be weighed to determine the price of your item. But in my opinion, the best thing about Maison Jar is how many partnerships they have created with local vendors (their list of local partners literally goes on forever).
A final word on zero waste stores NYC
No matter where you live in the “big apple”, there is a zero waste store for you! I hope today you have a better idea of all the zero waste stores NYC has to offer, and why it’s so important to shop from them.
If this article was helpful for you and you think it can help someone else, please give it a share! And if I missed your favorite zero waste store in the NYC area, please share it in the comment section below!