Zero Waste Shopping Etiquette

Since zero waste as a movement is a fairly new phenomenon, we thought that defining and sharing a set of guidelines inspired by our own zero waste practice would be helpful for others.

We called it Zero Waste Etiquette, because it contains rules that make zero waste shopping both safe and enjoyable for all, in addition to being eco-friendly! If you've visited our stores, you might have noticed that we work hard to keep them exceptionally safe and clean. But we can't do it without you! As a customer, you also have a role to play.

Hand sanitizing

Sanitizing hands upon entering a store became a habit during the pandemic. Even post-pandemic, we will continue to have hand sanitizer available and ask our visitors to sanitize their hands prior to touching any scoops, handles or spigots. This practice just makes sense in a bulk store!  

Bringing your own containers

We accept a variety of containers - Tupperwares, glass jars, cloth bags, repurposed takeout containers, yogurt tubs… - as long as they are clean and free of food residue. 

We recommend against the use of plastic bags. It is hard to wash a plastic bag or run it through a dishwasher, which means it might still contain food particles, and be a vehicle for cross-contamination. Don’t use them for bulk foods, but you can still use them for your fruits and veggies!

Weighing your containers

Bulk products are sold by weight rather than volume.

A taring station with a scale is located at the entrance of the store for you to weigh your containers before filling them. At cash, we deduct the weight of your container so that you only pay for the product inside.

Using funnels

Assume that your containers are not bacteria-free, even if they look clean. To avoid bacteria getting into our bulk bins, we ask that you use the clean funnels put at your disposal. Not only do they prevent spills, they also act as a barrier for cross contamination. When you use a funnel, the scoop that is in contact with the product in the bin never touches your container, and therefore stays “clean”.

Use one funnel per product. When you’re done, put the funnel in the used funnel bins that are placed on the bulk islands. We collect them throughout the day, clean and sanitize them, and place them back on the stack of clean funnels.

Avoiding any contact between your container and the food in the bin also means that you cannot place your container inside the bin to fill it, or put the product back from your container into the bin. In both cases, we will have to write off the whole bin of product for health and food safety reasons.

Breaking and spilling

Please let us know if you accidentally break or spill a product. It can happen, and we are not going to be mad or make you pay for anything. Letting us know allows us to clean up promptly.

Putting things back

Close the bulk bin lids, place the tongs and scoops back, turn off the taps (refill wall, oil dispenses, etc...). Refrain from putting shopping totes and baskets on the lid covers (they are not clean). 

Returning deposit jars

Rinse deposit jars and bottles before bringing them back. This will ensure that no mold develops inside the jars and suppliers can safely take them back and reuse.

Asking for help

It’s a learning curve for everyone and we are here to help. No question or request is too silly or strange (e.g. how to use a gravity dispenser, or our refill station for cleaning products). Let us know if you need help gauging how much 100g is, or if you need a specific amount for a recipe.

Being patient

Zero waste checkout takes a bit longer - we need to weigh every container, deduct the tare and enter the product code. Please be patient with us and other customers. We have multiple cashes and always jump on a free cash if we see that a lineup is building, but on a busy day, there might still be a bit of waiting. Bear with us :)

What to avoid

  • Just like for workplace etiquette, avoid bulk shopping when you are sick.
  • When shopping with children, keep an eye on them and don’t let them touch the products or even do fill-ups. As a rule, kids under 12 can only fill up under close adult supervision.
  • If you shop with a glass jar and it breaks, don’t touch the broken glass yourself. Please let staff know (usually we’ll hear the breakage!) and we’ll clean it up for you.

Incorporate these simple etiquette rules and make zero waste shopping safe and fun for everyone!

Sia Veeramani

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