Wanna know where to buy bulk in London?
The answer is a little all over the place…. literally… but the list is ever growing! So here’s a list of places I personally visit (or have heard of) to find bulk items in London.
If you know of any others then please let me know and I’ll try and keep this list up to date in case new locations open up or I find out about them. Also, remember that Bea Johnson has a bulk locator on her blog zerowastehome.com so def check that out too!
Source Bulk Foods – NEW!
The Aussie bulk chain has just landed in West London (Turnham Green in Chiswick to be precise). They have a VAST array of bulk, from organic herbs, spices, pasta, grains, beans, pulses etc to more unique items such as organic cleaning products, super food powders, Kitty’s Kombucha on tap, honey (including one from Wales), maple syrup, oil, bath salts, chocolates, natural gummy bears, protein balls and a nut butter machine providing freshly ground nut butters. They even have a grain mill!
Finally! A store dedicated to shopping without packaging has arrived in London. Most recently at a pop-up location in Dalston, East London but now in the process of moving to a permanent location. With a growing list of refillable items available, from (all organic) grains, pulses, pastas, oats, seeds, nuts, spices, salt and herbs to harder to find items such as maple syrup, honey, yoghurt, cream (!), nut butter, essential oils, cosmetic clays, loo roll cleaning products and even dog food! It really is a one-stop shop for almost everything. Lots of locally sourced, organic fresh produce too!
Newly opened zero waste shop in South London, hetu is vegan focussed, selling a range of organic dry goods, liquid refills and reusables to make a zero waste lifestyle that little bit easier. As well as a vast range of organic dry goods, hetu also sells organic cleaning refills from Greenscents (my fave!), maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and personal care products. The range is expanding by the day too! The gravity bulk bins are made from glass, herbs and spices are housed in wooden topped jars with vintage spoons, a plastic-free machine grinds fresh nut butter and there’s kombucha on tap (UPDATE currently no more kombucha on tap). And yes, there areat least three types of pasta here (including lasagne sheets!). The whole shop looks beautiful.
Personally, I like to walk there (or hop on the bus) via Battersea Park, stopping off at Borough Wines for an olive oil and wine refill on the way back. I noticed there is a beer refill at We Brought Beer (various locations across London – see below) on the same road as hetu which is also handy!
North Londoners will soon have a zero-plastic, vegan convenience store to call their own. Harmless is launching at the end of April (2018) at Blue House Yard, Wood Green and will stock a variety of whole foods, cleaning products and personal care items without plastic packaging from socially and environmentally conscious sellers. Refillable containers are welcome… nay, encouraged!
This place is amazing and before London enjoyed the various dedicated zero waste bulk shops, this was my go-to for hard to find refills. Earth Natural Foods have a hefty section selling (mostly organic) bulk spices, herbs, arrow root powder, grains, legumes, beans, nuts, coffee beans, tea and more recently they’ve started selling two types of dried organic pasta! Hooray! For those of you who want soya, they also have loose/unpackaged soya chunks available – not organic but labelled non-GMO, so there’s that (hetu also sells soya chunks). They also have Faith In Nature shampoo and conditioner refills (make sure you bring a 400ml container as I’m told that’s all they allow for Faith In Nature refills) as well as ecover washing up liquid, laundry liquid and all purpose cleaner refills.
Whilst they are not a full “zero waste shop”, they have an excellent selection of loose goods and have started offering paper bags alongside their plastic ones after customers asked them too (useful if you didn’t bring enough). They now sell reusable cloth bags too. I took my own cloth bags and used them without any probs. They also have plenty of loose, organic vegetables and fruits available too. Nearby, you will find Harry’s Fine Foods, also on Kentish Town Road – this quaint organic butchers, who are cool with me bringing my own containers also sell olive oil refills and loose eggs. Clapton Craft is just slightly further up the same road and offers beer refills on tap.
Not something they seem to rave about but they certainly have a decent enough selection of mostly organic bulk dry goods. No pasta sadly, but they do have oats, pop corn, beans, grains, super foods, coffee etc. I’m obsessed with their spicy chickpeas from bulk! Various locations across London including Shoreditch, Edgware Road and Balham (the Balham store is currently undergoing refurbishment). Make sure you take lightweight cloth bags as they are unable to deduct the weight of jars or heavy cloth bags etc at the till. They also have ecover refill stations!
Find locations here: https://www.asnatureintended.uk.com/shop-home/
This artisanal bakery and coffee shop also has a very small and quaint bulk offering in London Fields, East London. I buy salt, sugar, popcorn and sometimes their organic granola from here. They also sell a delicious cultured butter wrapped only in brown paper. They mill their own organic flour which is sold in paper packaging and they have just started selling their flour from bulk bins too! As most flours start going rancid once milled, the fresher the better!
This is the latest reincarnation of Unpackaged (it was once a stand along store in Hackney but has since become a partner with Planet Organic, taking over a section of their stores!) Currently in Muswell Hill(North London) and Torrington Place (Central, just off Tottenham Court Road) with Westbourne Grove (West London) being the latest to install an Unpackaged bulk section. Expect to find (all organic) coffee, grains, nuts, pulses, seeds, wine, dried fruits, ecover refills, cereals and chocolate. Click here for the full list.
The system relies on barcode sticker print outs and there isn’t a way around this as yet but you only need to do this once and can reuse the stickers for your next visit so keep them on your containers (easily removed for cleaning and reattached).
The “mothership” on High St Kensington has the largest bulk offering of all the WFM stores but sadly little of it is organic. I mainly buy organic coffee (they also have organic decaf!), organic popcorn, organic wheat berries/grain and some organic rice from here. They have a lot of non-organic items such as spices, grains, oats dried fruits, nuts, seeds, flours, teas super foods etc. The stores in Fulham and Richmond also have a (smaller) bulk section but the one in Soho Piccadilly does not have any bulk offering. You can (most of the time) find bulk frozen organic berries in the Fulham location too!
Wholefoods are usually ok to deduct the weight of your container or cloth bag at the till (more accommodating now that more people are shopping this way!) – I’d recommend pre-weighing and making a note or placing it empty on the scales and taking a photo on your phone.
I haven’t visited as yet, but these guys hold a market stall every Saturday in Crystal Palace, selling a wide range of organic wholefoods, herbal teas, eco cleaning and laundry product refills, olive oil, seaweed, superfoods and more – all by weight or volume. Bring your own containers for a 5% discount!
Naked Larder is a food buying group for South Londoners. They buy dry goods and eco-friendly cleaning products in bulk to minimise packaging and reduce cost and members collect their orders using their own reusable containers. You can find grains, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, sugars, flours, spices and eco-friendly cleaning products – ordering is done via a shared spreadsheet. Two collection times are offered, usually one weekday evening and a weekend morning. Collections are from the Naked Larder location in Herne Hill, SE24.
Not part of Wholefoods Market, this little independent store in Brixton is useful for buying loose herbs and spices.
I am yet to visit Mother Earth in North London but I hear they are a health food shop with a bulk section (they’ve been doing refills for 20+ years!). It’s on my list to check it out soon!
Selling a plethora of amazing organic dried herbs, they are cool with people bringing their own containers. Full list of herbs here.
Neals Yard Remedies is also part of Refill – an app locator that encourages people to refill their water bottles out and about by providing nearby locations. So swing by with your water bottle too and fill up with their (filtered!) water from the tap.
I quit supermarkets a while ago and only enter if I really have to (usually to buy vinegar in glass bottles). They make it tricky to buy anything without packaging and oddly, almost all the organic produce is packaged in single use, non-recyclable packaging. So instead, I shop at the following locations that are close to me (Chelsea/South Ken). Try to find small, independent green grocers near you that sell loose produce. There are a lot out there (including farmers’ markets – see below).
When most people think of Daylesford, they think “expensive!” – I used to think the same to be honest. But if I just buy their meat, cheese and fresh produce (most of it local or grown on their farm) then it’s actually very reasonable and the quality is the best I’ve come across. Every time you spend over £20, you will receive a stamp on one of their loyalty cards and after 5 stamps you can enjoy get £10 off your next grocery shop. The staff are super friendly too and have been very accommodating since I started shopping there 4 years ago. They have various locations in London, including Pimlico (my local), Notting Hill and Marylebone with more on the way. All of their produce is organic and seasonal too.
They have also pledged to go zero waste in the next couple of years and are in the process of phasing out plastic packaging!
There’s an abundance of farmers’ markets in London, most offering organic produce too! Whilst the meat is still normally in plastic (find a local organic butcher instead) the veggies, fruits, eggs and fish can all be bought using your own packaging.
Check out lfm.org.uk to find your nearest one.
Also Borough Market is always worth visiting – try to go off-peak to avoid the crowds. Here you can find Hook and Son who sell organic raw milk products (and they have an organic milk refill – bring your own clean and sterilized bottle though). Borough Wines also has a stall here selling bulk wine refills with the occasional organic offering too!
And shopping at local (and organic!) small indpendent grocery shops, not only means you’re more likely to find seasonal produce without plastic packaging, but also more of your money is likely to stay in your local community.
SPECIALITY COFFEE & TEA
The London Tea Exchange – tea only
My Cup of Tea – tea only
Wholefoods High St Ken – both
Algerian Coffee Stores – both
As Nature Intended – coffee only
Earth Natural Foods – both
Bulk Market – both
BEER & WINE & KOMBUCHA
We Brought Beer (various locations) – beer
Borough Wines – wine (sometimes organic too!)
Clapton Craft (various locations) – beer
Wholefoods Market Fulham – wine only – not the best – you have been warned!
Camden Brewery – I haven’t been but have read they do growler refills.
Kitty’s Kombucha – has a farmers’ market stall (check website for locations, I discovered them in Richmond) and operates a bottle return scheme. Also now available on tap at Source Bulk Foods.
SOAPS (affiliate links marked with *)
Most health food shops and some markets will also sell handmade soap bars, often organic and unpackaged too.
Camden Market Stall – Read The Label (solid soap bars, liquid soap, shampoo bars, body lotions, lip balms in metal containers). I met the owner and he knows a lot about his ingredients and is happy to refill!
SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER
Owing to EU hygiene regs, it’s kinda hard to find refill liquid shampoo etc in the U.K. So here are a couple of options:
Earth Natural Foods, hetu, Bulk Market and Source currently stock Faith In Nature shampoo and conditioner refills. Personally, I’m not a fan of Faith In Nature products and would recommend you try the following instead:
- Try asking your hair salon if they will refill for you. I emailed ahead (pun intended!) and mine were cool with me returning with the original bottles and refilling for me. They are doing me a favour so don’t expect all salons to oblige but always worth asking.
- Try a solid shampoo bar. Not all are created equal and my faves are this one*, this one * (also available at hetu and Bulk Market) and I’m LOVING these beauty kubes (start with these if you’re new to shampoo bars!) which are made in Cornwall and are delivered plastic-free.
- La-Eva, one of my fave organic skin care brands, is now refilling their bottles if you send them back to them. Simply email them to arrange. As well as shampoo and conditioner, La-Eva also make organic liquid soap and an organic lotion, designed for face, hands and body. It smells divine and all housed in sturdy amber glass bottle with plastic pumps.
- Try asking a small brand you love if they will accept your empty containers for a refill. It doesn’t hurt to ask and if enough people request, they are likely to start offering this to everyone.
Butchers – find a local one to you – I always choose organic as non-organic animals are highly likely to be fed some gm feed as part of their diet, even in the UK! Simply take a container, I use a few stainless steel tins or glass jars and hand them over explaining I’d love them to put it straight in the container, no plastic please. They get it, they really do.
TO YOUR DOOR DELIVERY
Reyouzable have just started delivering zero waste dry goods and cleaning products to your door. Their offering is constantly expanding. Currently limited to certain London postcodes, email them to find out if they can deliver to you!
Zero Waste Club – offering an ever-expanding list of organic foods, including: coffee, tofu, nutritional yeast, nuts, seeds, pasta, beans, rice, dried fruits, oats, muesli, sugars, salts, herbs and spices delivered in brown paper bags/plastic-free packaging. They deliver all food items to UK and Europe, dispatching every Wednesday.
Plastic Free Pantry – offering a wide selection of whole foods/staples in recyclable, reusable or home compostable packaging, including pasta, flours, herbs, spices, rice, nuts and seeds etc. You can also send them your own containers to be filled!
Outside of London:
Jar Full – zero waste delivery service in Harrogate
Charlotte’s Cupboard – refill on your fave bulk items from their van, “Peggy”, throughout Sussex or find them at various markets.
A veg box is a great way to still have the convenience of food arriving at your door (I’m talking to you, Ocado lovers!) and likely comes with no or at the very least, a heck of a lot less packaging. Try to find one local to you (there are some organic ones listed here) and try emailing ahead to see if no packaging is possible.
The Organic Delivery Co is the first I’ve found to offer a plastic free fruit and vegetable box!
Abel & Cole * have developed a compostable bag should you suddenly fear they’ve put a bunch of carrots in plastic in your veg box. Not sure as yet if this is home compassable or not, so at least add to your food waste bin if you have one available to you.
Riverford * are in the process of changing their packaging after recent press around plastic. Watch this space!
Oddbox deliver loose veggies, not all organic, but a nice wonky variety that would have otherwise been wasted and mostly without packaging.
OUTSIDE OF LONDON
Earth.Food.Love – a zero waste shop in Totnes, Devon.
Natural Weigh – zero waste shop in Wales
The Clean Kilo – zero waste shop in Birmingham
Zero Green – Bristol’s first zero waste shop
SESI – zero waste market stall offering refills every Saturday in Oxford
Wild Oats – Health food shop in Bristol with a large bulk offering.
Better Food Co – Bristol
The Natural Store – Falmouth and Helston, Cornwall offering – herbs and spices as well as random baking items such as citric acid, bicarbonate of soda etc in bulk. Also cover and bio-d cleaning product refills.
HISBE – Health food store with a refill bar and bulk bins in Brighton
The Weigh Inn – bulk in Penzance
Food Shed Co-op – offering a selection of locally grown organic fruit and veg, scoop and save loose grains, pulses, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, herbs and superfoods and local dairy produce, all with a zero waste ethos.
Save A Packet – A refill store based in Kingsbridge, South Devon selling over 230 unpackaged dried foods & products.
ScoopAway – Health food store in Bristol with a large bulk offering
Harvest Co-op – Glasgow store with a good bulk offering
Sarah Lewis has compiled an elegant list of shops that sell a lot of food items packaging-free, all over the UK here: https://thezerowaster.com/zero-waste-near-you/