9 Bulk Stores Online: Buy Without Burdening The Planet
*This post contains affilate links
Looking to progress your zero waste journey journey by really bulking up your eco-friendly efforts? Well, then…we guess it’s time to start buying in bulk.
Thanks to a new wave of bulk stores online, we can order our favorite food, cleaning, beauty and body care products in a way that’s better for our planet and better for our pockets…right from the comfort of our home.
Just like any shop, bulk food stores or bulk online stores sell a range of products. Where they stand out though is with their packaging (or lack thereof). Online bulk stores minimize the jars, bottles, and wrappers by selling refills with returnable or compostable containers.
Naturally, that means they ship (almost) everything plastic free, too.
Whether you need hand lotion or restaurant-grade olive oil, you’ll find what you need and won’t have the packaging to show for it. While this is a relatively new area of sustainable living, it’s just the beginning for eco friendly online bulk shopping —and we’re so here for it!
EarthHero’s Bulk Selection
While most of their bulk products will satisfy our bathroom and needs, they’ve also got some refillable items for the kitchen and the office, too.
You’ll see refillable hand soap, a variety of cleaners, cartridges for pens (zero waste office supplies anyone?), as any container you might need to put your bulk liquids or powders in, you likely already have upcycled jars that will do the trick.
You can even buy hand sanitizer in bulk to really celebrate online bulk shopping in the new-normal.
EarthHero is one of our favorite bulk stores online for a few reasons.
Think of them as a sustainable version of Amazon that recognizes that our conventional ways—while convenient—are hurting our planet. Which is why they only work with companies that use organic, upcycled, renewable, and recycled materials.
Even better, the brands featured on their website have made a conscious effort to produce their products in a way that’s better for people and the planet, like using renewable energy and designing for longevity (not planned obsolescence).
We’d recommend taking a peep at their very impressive list of sustainability logos that make it easy to shop and understand a product’s impact.
EarthHero also offsets their shipping through a partnership with CarbonFund, making for even LESS waste associated with your order. They also only use compostable, recyclable, and/or recycled packaging.
And they’re a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corp.
2. AZURE STANDARD
Azure Standard’s Bulk Selection
Depending on where you live, you may not have a bulk grocery store near you. We’re not all fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods or Natural Grocers round the corner.
Fortunately, Azure Standard exists!
With this bulk online grocery service, you can order nearly any food product you can imagine in bulk—grains, beans, tea, snacks, apple cider vinegar, honey, flour, oil, frozen food, and the list goes on! They also have a lot of bulk and refill options for kitchen and bathroom staples (like soap and baby wipes).
You can order your bulk foods to be delivered directly to you, or you can join a drop—where you’ll join other eco-conscious individuals to pick up a regular order (and minimize shipping emissions in the process).
About Azure Standard
Azure Standard essentially provides what all of us have been waiting for: “making it affordable to eat healthy.”
While bulk groceries are a new development (to match the demands of our plastic-free lives), Azure Standard actually started in 1971 when the Stelzer family took their wheat and cattle ranch out of the chemical cycle on which most other farms were getting hooked.
Azure’s core values reflect this decision, namely to inspire healthy and abundant living while embracing change. This also contributes to their strict product standards, which mean that nothing listed on their website contains artificial additives, preservatives, MSG, GMOs, or artificial colors or flavors.
Available: Azure Standard (US only)
3. MELIORA CLEANING PRODUCTS
Meliora’s Bulk Selection
Plastic-free is the way to be and Meliora can help you out with their easy system of plastic free online shopping for household essentials. That includes laundry powder, dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, bath soap, and cleansing scrub.
We’ve bragged about their zero waste laundry detergent before, which is not only made with natural ingredients, but can also be refilled (refills are sent in a compostable paper bag)!
Absolutely everything either comes as a refill, in recyclable/compostable packaging, or in a reusable tin.
Meliora was kind of a serendipity during founder Kate’s Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. She started to make her own vegetable soap for laundry and realized that simple ingredients were just better. For people and the planet.
Since it took off, Meliora has lobbied for the Right-To-Know Act, become both MADE SAFE and B-Corp Certified, and joined 1% for the Planet. For the latter, they actually donate 2% of annual revenue to Women’s Voices for the Earth, an organization working to both amplify women’s voices while also championing environmental justice.
Whew! Makes you feel a bit better about putting that load of laundry on, now doesn’t it?
4. A DROP IN THE OCEAN
A Drop in the Ocean’s Bulk Selection
Check out A Drop in the Ocean when you’re ready to refill your household essentials. From laundry detergent to all-purpose cleaner, you’ll find what you need to keep your house, clothes, and body clean—and do so in a way that will keep our planet clean, too.
A Drop in the Ocean is also a good place to source some of those hard-to-find products and DIY ingredients in bulk (here’s looking at you organic witch hazel extract, tooth powder, and dog shampoo).
When you’re ready for your refill, just choose the “refill” option and you’ll receive a return label to send back your empty container!
They make package free bulk online shopping so easy, you may feel like your efforts can’t be more than a drop in the ocean, but rest assured, making this seemingly simple change really matters.
About A Drop in the Ocean
How refreshing is it to see a brand that uses its business as a force for good?
Let’s start with the fact that A Drop In the Ocean plants ten trees for every purchase through their partnership with Trees for the Future (a total of 13,450 just last year). Their commitment to oceans is just as strong as their commitment to forests, and they donate 1% of sales to organizations like the Vermilion Sea Institute.
For all orders, they use only reused packing paper and reusable, recyclable, or compostable shipping materials. Aside from their online ordering services, this zero waste online shop has delivery service in Tacoma, Washington.
Available: A Drop in the Ocean
5. THE GOOD FILL
The Good Fill’s Bulk Selection
The Good Fill is one of the few bulk stores to offer household staples that are somewhat unique in the world of shopping bulk online, like refillable stain remover, baking soda, and Epsom salt.
They also have more basic cleaners like laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner, as well as a range of beauty care products like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and body wash.
If you’re buying a liquid from The Good Fill, it comes in a BPA-free plastic pouch (with 93% less plastic than a bottle) with a pre-paid postage envelope that allows you to ship it back so it can be sanitized and reused.
About The Good Fill
This package free store is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Here’s why the hairstylist-turned-owner Megan started The Good Fill:
“I want to tackle the idea that we don’t have enough time, money, convenience or resources to change the habits that consumerism has trapped us in.”
By providing sustainable alternatives to commonly used (and disposed of) products, The Good Fill allows us to think more deeply about our purchases. It brings awareness to the time, energy, resources, and individual efforts that go into each product and packaging.
Everything is mailed in a compostable or recyclable paper bag. Or if you’re in Nashville looking for bulk stores near you, you’ll be happy to know that most products are made locally and can be purchased from their brick-and-mortar storefront. And you can even bring your own bottles.
Available: The Good Fill (US only)
6. THE WALLY SHOP
The Wally Shop’s Bulk Selection
Join the #ReusablesRevolution with Wally.
The Wally Shop has a vision to provide everything—from food to pet supplies to beauty products—in reusable packaging. They’ve got a range of “responsibly-made, Trader Joe’s price-competitive bulk foods” and household products with plans to add more categories and brands over time.
Simply pay a deposit for the packaging and then get it back when it’s returned with the next order.
The first time we covered The Wally Shop, they were only shipping to limited east coast locations. Suffice it to say we’re egg-static to see they now have nationwide shipping available. No matter where you live, you should have access to healthy and sustainable grocery options.
About The Wally Shop
The Wally Shop is a platform that connects shoppers to their favorite waste-free brands, and it started in the most unexpected place: Amazon.
While founder Tamara was working with Amazon, she became aware of the correlation between the rise of online shopping and plastic-waste. She wanted to provide an alternative so that shoppers could get the same convenience, selection, and value, as the online behemoth, but do so in a sustainable way.
Sustainability is thus the top priority, but giving back is also important for The Wally Shop. Since we’ve all been spending a lot more time indoors these days, they’ve donated $1 of every purchase to Feeding America. They’re also providing free shipping to vulnerable seniors, healthcare, and emergency service workers.
Available: The Wally Shop
7. EQUAL EXCHANGE
Equal Exchange’s Bulk Selection
For those of us who need a cup o’ joe (or two) to start the day, you’ll find a friend in Equal Exchange. They use the power of online bulk shopping to satisfy our caffeine addictions, which combines two of our favorite things ever. Eco-conscious-coffee? Sign us up!
At a minimum, their coffee blends come in 5 pound bags. You can also opt for a pack of two (ten pounds total) and save on both cost and shipping.
They also have some of our other guilty pleasures: tea, chocolate, baking items, fruits and nuts, all available in bulk and/or at discounted prices. If you need a big bulk purchase (i.e. for an event or a cafe), you can buy wholesale, too.
While their packaging is not zero waste or bulk in the sense that they can be refilled, the large quantities they supply vastly cut back on the amount of overall packaging, both for the product itself and the packaging used to ship multiple smaller items.
About Equal Exchange
In 1986, Equal Exchange took on one of the world’s biggest problems: fixing a broken food system. They started by purchasing fair trade coffee from Nicaragua and have since expanded their network of worker co-operatives that allow them to contribute to a more equitable, democratic, and sustainable world.
They’re now an entirely worker-owned co-op that partners with farmers, fair trade organizations, and interfaith groups.
Most of their products are organic and/or fair trade, and they try to use responsible packaging ideally (either compostable or recyclable) while still preserving the aroma and flavor of the products (meaning that the bulk coffee bags unfortunately have to be thrown away).
Available: Equal Exchange
8. ARBOR TEAS
Arbor Teas’ Bulk Selection
Any type of loose tea you could imagine—whether black, green, white, oolong, pu-erh, rooibos, herbal, or decaf—is available to purchase in a bulk serving (typically 8 ounces, or 100 servings- you Brits will have some work to do). They’ve also got several teas that are fair trade to boot.
And that sip of tea will be extra comforting when you know that it’s been sent in packaging that is backyard compostable! It’s made from wood pulp that’s been sourced from sustainably managed trees. The packaging is lightweight, too, which reduces shipping emissions.
About Arbor Teas
Arbor Teas is a family-owned company based in Michigan, USA. Since 2004, they’ve been driven by a concern for environmental sustainability and social welfare. They want to be an agent of positive change in our world, and are doing so one cup of tea at a time!
Sustainability is a pretty big deal for Arbor Teas, which is why they’re a member of Green America’s Green Business Network and have been recognized for their sustainability efforts by a number of organizations.
Still, they’re always looking for ways to improve. They’ve minimized their shipping emissions and installed solar panels, but for the minimal emissions they can’t avoid, they partner with CarbonFund to offset them.
Available: Arbor Teas
9. SAFFI FOODS
Saffi Foods’ Bulk Selection
For the foodie in all of us, Saffi Foods has an extremely impressive selection of cooking ingredients used in Michelin Star restaurants. They’ve got vinegars and cold-pressed extra virgin oils that will make any meal spectacular (because what good are bulk ingredients without the right oils?).
You’ll find organic and sustainably sourced ingredients in the bulk food offerings from Saffi Foods. Meaning they’re raw, unpasteurized, and made without preservatives.
Even better, these oils and vinegars come in reusable or upcycled packaging sourced from partner restaurants that donate old glass bottles (which are properly sanitized).
About Saffi Foods
With a deep appreciation for all the ingredients Mother Nature provides, Saffi Farms wants to give back by protecting our environment—which is why they’re committed to provide zero waste packaging options.
They work with farms around the globe, and their Chilean, Spanish, and Mexican oil and vinegar is commonly used by James Beard awarded chefs across the United States.
Saffi Farms works directly with farms to ensure transparency for each of their products (you can take a tour of one if you like). For shoppers, each product page will tell you where the ingredients are grown (which changes depending on the season), in addition to helpful cooking points like taste notes, suggested pairings, and the smoke point of the oil.
Available: Saffi Foods
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ONLINE BULK SHOPPING
Not to sound like an infomercial, but… are you tired of buying your favorite foods, household products, and beauty care items in excessive packaging? Don’t sulk, buy in bulk!
Our concerns (and that of thousands of individuals like us) about disposable packaging have been heard. In recent years, we’ve seen a burgeoning rise in zero waste online stores and general ethical online shops popping up and it’s become easier to get our favorite products sans plastic.
Speaking of concerns, don’t be afraid to voice yours! If you’re in love with a product but would prefer to use your own jars instead of plastic-wrapped plastic, let the brand or store know or ask for alternatives.
Consumer demand is what’s driving this movement; let’s keep the momentum going!
That said, we’d also love to hear you out. Let us know what your favorite bulk stores online are. Or if you have any plastic-free pro-tips you have for buying everyday essentials without the waste, let us know in the comments.