While New Jersey businesses and shoppers prepare for the plastic bag ban to take effect on May 4, sustainable grocery stores have been package-free from the start. The overuse of plastic is a worldwide issue, with grocery stores swaddling fruit and vegetables in plastic wrap and styrofoam. To combat this, zero-waste grocery stores package their products in self-service containers and bins which you can fill into your own reusable bags, containers and jars. Sustainable stores are popping up all over the United States to fight against plastic waste. These eight zero-waste New Jersey grocery stores won’t stop until they do so.
A Guide to Zero-Waste Grocery Stores in New Jersey
Greener Kinder Smarter, The “Know” Waste Store – Lawrence, NJ
Greener Kinder Smarter wants its customers to know that they can ditch plastic for good. The store sells liquid and dry goods by weight. You can bring your own glass jars or containers for the products or you can purchase one at the store. Brown bags are available for dry goods. Along with groceries, the store also offers cleaning and personal products.
Owned by Randie Cimino, the store opened after she noticed the lack of no-waste grocery stores in her area. The store currently resides in the Trenton Farmers Market. There is something for everyone, whether it’s soaps, olive oils, organic kinds of rice or pasta. At the end of the day, the store’s goal is to “provide an easy, healthier shopping experience for you and our planet.”
Good Bottle – Montclair and Maplewood, NJ
As the first refill shop in New Jersey, Good Bottle was the pioneer for zero-waste grocery stores in New Jersey. The owner of Good Bottle created the store for two reasons: her disdain for plastic waste and the chemicals in the products she was using. It is important to bring your own clean containers to fill at the store. The steps for refilling bottles are easy: you weigh the empty bottle, fill it, weigh the packed bottle and finally label it and pay.
A unique aspect of this refill shop is their Good Bottle loop service. This service allows Good Bottle to buy back the bottles sold to those who ordered online, so they do not pile up in customers’ homes. Make sure the bottles have the store label still on. You cannot sell them back otherwise.
Zero to 180 – Morristown, NJ
Zero to 180 are champions of the zero-waste movement, as they try to assist in eliminating trash output. The zero-waste store sources quality bulk products—something that is very important to them. Customers can buy a variety of produce, nuts, spices, coffee and teas, as well as pastas. Those shopping at the store can either bring their own containers or buy them from the store. As Zero to 180 is passionate about eliminating waste, customers can donate five clean containers for other customers to use for free.
Simple Bare Necessities – Sparta, NJ
The founder of Simple Bare Necessities is an Earth enthusiast and passionate about eliminating unnecessary waste. Mikaela Molnar began her journey into zero-waste shopping in 2017. The store stemmed from “necessities that are low waste and plastic-free.”
Along with avoiding single-use plastics, Molnar also strives to make homemade products that are not only safe for the planet but for our bodies. Customers not only support creating a cleaner environment but a woman-owned business. The store also has an extensive website, where you can order a variety of goods from cleaners to spices and organic chocolate bars. Those who reside in Sussex County are also eligible for their refill and delivery service.
The Refill Market – Haddon, NJ
The Refill Market is a low-waste grocery store that seeks to eliminate single-use plastics. The market’s goal is to have its customers never buy another plastic container or bottle again. You can either bring in your own glass container or purchase an aluminum or glass bottle from the store. If you want to eliminate plastic waste but do not live near The Refill Market, the store also offers online delivery. Shoppers can also participate in their bottle return program, which applies after your second order. After you make your return, you will receive an emailed coupon that you can apply to your next purchase. Make sure the containers you are returning have a screw lid and are thoroughly washed.
The Refill Market also offers an in-house recycling service. Currently, you can recycle crayons with the wrappers on, empty writing instruments, used or empty oral care products, razors, Brita filters and plastic bags.
Whole Earth Center – Princeton, NJ
Founded on Earth Day in 1970, the Whole Earth Center has provided Princeton with organic foods and environmentally friendly products for almost 50 years. The Whole Earth Center offers a number of foods for purchase such as flours, nuts and organic produce sourced from farmers in New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and New York. The store also has a full vegetarian deli offering organic juices, salads, soups, sandwiches and other dishes. There is also a bakery that specializes in breads, muffins, scones and cookies. There are a variety of wellness, cosmetic and household items being sold. The Whole Earth Center is B.Y.O bag and container. For every container and jar you bring to the store to fill, the center will give you a dime. The store also sells jars and cloth bags.
Dry Goods Refillery – Montclair, NJ
In an effort to eliminate single-use plastics and help the environment in any way possible, Dry Goods Refillery was born. Dry Good Refillery strives to be a one-stop shop to fulfill all of your sustainable shopping needs. The grocery store offers gourmet packages and plastic-free dry goods, dairy items, spices, produce and oils and vinegars. The store provides a number of teas, coffees, salts and candies.
As a woman-owned business, Dry Goods Refillery prioritizes female-founded chefs and product makers. The sustainable store also offers a Frequent Fille Program. This program allows you to earn “Figs” which are points that can be redeemed for money off future purchases. You earn one “Fig” with every dollar spent.
Sustainable Haus Mercantile – Summit, NJ
Janette Spiezio created Sustainable Haus Mercantile to provide her family and others with a way to live plastic-free and have a non-toxic lifestyle. This store offers a full line of zero-waste home goods, solutions for food storage, kids’ products, and hair and body care—to name a few. Sustainable Haus Mercantile also makes a number of its own sustainable products right in Summit such as cloth goods. They also offer knife sharpening, mending and affordable dish rentals.
Interested in checking out these zero-waste grocery stores in New Jersey? Let us know!
About the Author/s
Nicole is a tea lover and aspiring journalist studying Journalism, Creative Writing, and Digital Video Production at Marist College.