4 Ways to Grocery Shop Package-Free Right Now

2019 just might become the year we collectively work to reduce all plastic waste. Photo credit: Patrick Kolts

Single-use plastics revolutionized the food and drink industry in the mid-20th century and we’ve been addicted to them ever since. But if 2018 was the year of the plastic straw ban, 2019 just might become the year we collectively work to reduce all plastic waste.

Since the Loop debuted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Internet has been buzzing about it—a delivery service coming to New York consumers this May that promises “zero-waste” shopping on 300 items, including groceries such as Häagen-Dazs ice cream and household products like Tide detergent. If you’re as excited as I am to try this new service, then you should know, or just be reminded hopefully, that there are already plenty of ways to shop without consuming so many disposable materials; they just might not seem as convenient if you’re going for the big brand stuff (enter Loop in this case).


Farmers Markets
We are lucky to live in a city with a large number of farmers markets, including many open year-round (there’s even now an indoor market at the Oculus!). Farmers markets make it possible to shop waste-free with a little bit of advanced preparation. Keep a reusable bag on you at all times (I’m partial to LOQI’s pouch ones), and whenever you can, bring back any berry, eggs and other containers to the farmers at your market. Not sure where the closest farmers market is? Here’s a map of Brooklyn farmers markets and one of Manhattan markets.


Your neighborhood co-op is the original package-free way to shop. While some but not all co-ops require a membership to shop, members have greater autonomy over what items show up on the shelves, and prices tend to be lower. Much like with farmers markets it requires some upfront work. Our friends at The Bushwick Food Cooperative have a great list of tips to make it easier, including creating a zero-waste shopping kit. Here’s a list of Brooklyn Co-Ops.


The Wally Shop
Created by a former Amazon employee, the Wally Shop is a grocery delivery service that offers same-day delivery for orders placed before 2 p.m. The company sources local, organic ingredients from farmers markets, co-ops and other bulk shopping stores. Right now, it’s only available in select Brooklyn neighborhoods (type your Zip code into their website to see if you’re one of the lucky ones), but they hope to expand to other New York City neighborhoods as well as Boston and San Francisco.

On their website you select the products you want and when you want delivery (up to a week in advance). The Wally Shop’s team of shoppers buys your products on the day of your delivery. While there is no minimum order requirement, there is a 15% service fee to compensate the shoppers, a $3.99 delivery fee and a refundable packaging deposit, about $1 per packaging.  Your order arrives by courier in reusable packaging such as Mason jars, produce bags and tote bags, which the Wally Shop encourages customers to either reuse or give back to the courier with their next order for a package return deposit.


Opened in Bushwick in late 2018, this organic grocery is the first of what we can only hope will be many package-free stores. Precycle uses a container shopping method, meaning that customers bring their own reusable items or use the stores selection of jars, reusable cotton bags and recycled paper bags. The store weighs the containers before you shop, and then again after you’ve filled them with a variety of food items including produce, grains, flours and more, or household and beauty products, and you pay for the products based on weight. We wrote about them a little while back—read more here.