zero waste shopping FAQs
Below you will find some of the most frequent questions people ask about shopping zero waste at The Bare Alternative and The Zero Waste Lifestyle in general. If you have any other questions, please feel free to get in touch, or come see us at the shop and let's have a chat about what's on your mind.
Q: What containers do I need to shop with you?
A: Anything! There are no rules here, just that we ask you to weigh containers before filling them so we can subtract that weight when paying, meaning we have an accurate weight to charge you the right amount. Typically people use a range of containers from plastic take away boxes to glass jars. Some people opt for lightweight items, such as plastic zip lock bags or takeaway boxes, to make it easier to walk and transport goods home where they then decant into glass jars, but others bring the heavier jars with them as they are not on foot.
You don't have to use our containers, but we do have a range of containers for sale and most of the time free-to-use donated containers which are cleaned and pre-weighed so you can start filling. We do also have paper bags available but recently introduced a small fee for using them which is explained here.
Q: Isn't shopping this way more expensive?
A: Yes and no. Our main aim is to make packaging-free shopping available to everybody, so for example, we do not focus only on organic or vegan products to keep costs as low as possible. Our hope is that if you replace 10 items from shopping at a supermarket, the total average cost of those items would be the same or less with us.
Q: How do I find out more about the products when there is no packaging to show the information I need.
A: Product information such as origin and ingredients (where applicable) that you typically expect to see on packaging is displayed on each dispenser, additional information such as a full nutritional breakdown is available on request as there is not always enough space to display all the required text on the dispenser.
Q: How do products arrive to you?
A: Every item we sell is bought in bulk - typically between 10 and 25kg and we research with suppliers the packaging used and try to ensure paper sacks are used where possible. Not all items are suitable to be stored and transported in paper (such as nuts and dried fruit), so in these cases, lightweight plastic sacks are used in a cardboard box. In these cases, there is a massive reduction in plastic packaging used, but we do have a commercial waste contract to ensure this packaging is recycled. However, this is all a balancing act between the above factors and the origin of the produce, cost of purchase and more.
Q: Is there a list of what you sell?
A: Yes, over on the Products page of our website. It doesn't have prices at the moment because this would be a manual task and want to make sure no errors are introduced. We frequently post on social media when we get new products so make sure to follow us to keep up to date.
Q: Can you start selling...?
A: Maybe. It's not always easy to find a supplier for certain items but as we find more suppliers more things become possible. Also, it's not always easy to dispense some things so we may need to find a solution to that problem too. We are always wanting to hear your feedback because, at the end of the day, it's you who wants to buy these items.
Q: Where are you located? When are you open? How can I get there? Is there parking?
A: All this and more is on our About us page.
Q: How can I pay?
A: Cash or card, and there's no minimum card spend.
Q: Do you have a peanut butter making machine?
A: Not yet. We know many people love peanut butter and what makes it better? No packaging! But these machines are really expensive to buy, so hopefully, in the future, this is something we can look to invest in.
Q: Why don't you sell olive oil?
A: There is an EU regulation stating certain oils mustn’t be sold ‘on tap’ in their pure form, but this does not apply to infused oils so this is something we are looking to do soon.