Whether you live in Glasgow or are passing through on your big Scotland trip, you might be interested in how to shop plastic-free in Glasgow – whether it is for food and groceries, toiletries and beauty products or on markets. This is my Glasgow zero-waste shopping guide with a list of shops, markets and other packaging-free shopping options where you can stock up with a clean consciousness.
Going one hundred percent zero waste is a full-time job. But with a little bit of preparation and a lot of passion, we can all do our part and contribute to reducing plastic pollution. Why passion? Because living a zero waste lifestyle is not always convenient and in order to go that extra mile (quite literally, e.g. to the recycling station), we need to believe that we can be part of the change.
I believe strongly, that every single person counts when it comes to reducing plastic pollution. You might think, that you as an individual won’t make a difference, but believe me, you can – and I think that you have a responsibility to do so! Awareness of the impact of plastic on the planet is growing, and more and more people demand alternatives in their local supermarkets, chemists and take-away places. We can’t stop climate change by individually switching to bamboo straws, but when we all live the change in our daily lives, we might be able to enforce large-scale changes on a global industrial level as well!
Last month I signed up for the #GoPlasticFree challenge of the Marine Conservation Society, which is the UK’s largest marine conservation charity. The challenge was to avoid using plastic for an entire month, and while this sounded a bit radical, it was a good way to start thinking about the little changes I can make and sustain long after the official challenge is over.
Going zero waste does not happen overnight and so far there are a few items I use every day where I have not found alternatives yet. My hike across the Outer Hebrides caused additional difficulties during the monthlong challenge, as I had to rely on trekking food in plastic pouches for dinner and store-bought hummus, bread and vegetables for my lunches. Sadly, there is still too much food wrapped in plastic in Scotland’s supermarkets, especially in the little shops across the islands.
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However, I’m doing my best to work towards a zero waste life back home and luckily there is a great number of shops in Glasgow that make it easier to shop plastic-free now. This zero waste shopping guide for Glasgow will help you to find these packaging-free alternatives, whether they are stores, markets or other great shopping alternatives!
What you need for Zero Waste Shopping
You can, of course, start zero waste shopping without making any new expenses, but if you want to avoid using throw-away paper bags to fill your bulk grains, beans or pasta in, you might want to invest in some basic shopping helpers.
Glass jars and glass bottles
I initially bought a set of glass jars, because I liked the aesthetic to display my groceries on an open kitchen shelf. Now, as a newbie zero waste shopper, these jars come in even handier, as I use them to fill all my beans, grains and pasta in. We have a rather big spice collection at home and so, we buy them in bulk and fill them into a set of small spice jars.
I also keep all small glass jars from olives, antipasti, jam etc., peel off the labels in a hot water bath and re-use them for seeds, nuts and dried fruit.
Cotton produce bags
I don’t like bringing my glass jars to the shop since that’s way too bulky and heavy. Instead, I invested in a set of light-weight cotton bags and always have one or two in my day bag for spontaneous shopping sprees.
I have been using tote bags as reusable shopping bags long before I started zero-waste shopping, but now I’m even better at carrying at least one of them with me at all times. I will use them for extra shopping, if my backpack runs out of space, but also for packaging free bread when my cotton produce bags are too small.
Reusable food containers
I often bring homemade lunch with me in reusable food containers, or simply the empty containers if I know I need to get a takeaway lunch, like soup or salads from the deli. On my way home, I can re-use these as containers for more zero-waste shopping at one of the shops in my neighbourhood. Most delis will not have any issue with filling your own containers, and if you shops for meat or cheese at your local supermarket, you might also be fine using these instead of the plastic-lined paper wrappers!
Zero Waste Grocery Shops in Glasgow
Locavore is a Glasgow-based social enterprise that contributes to building a sustainable local food system. In the shop, you can buy organic produce, either sourced from local farmers or grown at Locavore’s own farm and fields. There is a huge packaging free groceries station where you can fill up your own containers (or small brown paper bags) with grains, seeds, dried fruit, pasta, tea, herbs, spices and so on. There is a large milk tank to fill your own bottles, a machine making fresh peanut butter, re-fill stations for a variety of oils and an area where you can refill toiletry and cleaning products into your own containers/bottles – with liquids, make sure your container says how much it holds, so the shopkeepers know how to charge you. Fresh bread is delivered daily by local artisan bakeries.
349 Victoria Rd, Glasgow G42 7SA, website
Roots & Fruits (West End)
Roots & Fruits is an independent grocer with two branches in the West End of Glasgow. At the bigger location of Great Western Road, there is a separate fruit & veg shop, a flower shop as well as the larger supermarket with a deli counter, a few seats inside and on the street, as well as a selection of groceries and fresh produce. The smaller shop in Finnieston has a smaller selection, but also loads of plastic-free choices. I love coming here for a takeaway from the deli counter, but also to shop zero waste fruit and veg. Fresh bread from artisan bakers is delivered to the shop throughout the week.
451-457 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 8HH, website
1137 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8ND
Demijohn (West End)
Demijohn is a liquid deli in Glasgow where you can buy packaging free oils, vinegars, liqueurs and spirits, as well as jams, cordials and sauces. Unfortunately, you cannot bring your own glass jars or bottles with you (it has to do with licensing restrictions for selling alcohol), but once you’ve bought a Demijohn bottle, you can reuse this in the shops as often as you like. All the products in the shop are hand-selected and sourced from small producers in the UK (for alcohols) and the Mediterranean/Portugal (for oils and vinegars). The shop is very transparent about their supply chain and is dedicated to reducing their excess waste, even though going 100% plastic free is still a challenge for them.
382 Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8AR, website
Fresh’n’Fruity is a small family-owned and -run neighbourhood shop in Mount Florida. It’s easy to mistake it for a regular corner shop, but in fact, it is filled with vegan and organic groceries, vegan cheeses and other “dairy” products, and of course a great selection of unpackaged fruit and veg. The owners have made it their goal to bring locally-sourced produce and plastic-free packaging to the neighbourhood and are very actively engaging with the local community on social media.
5 Cumming Dr, Glasgow G42 9AE, Facebook
Stalks & Stems (Southside)
Stalks & Stems is mostly a florist but also has a small grocery shop next door where they sell lots of vegan-friendly products and whole foods as well as a wide range of packaging-free fruit and veg.
1045 Pollokshaws Rd, Glasgow G41 3YF
Harvest Co-op (Southside)
The Harvest Co-op was the first zero-waste shop in Glasgow I remember coming across. Here you can buy organic groceries, such as grains, beans, herbs or spices packaging free and in bulk. They also sell a range of vegan-friendly foods, ecological cleaning products and organic, homemade takeaway food.
16 Skirving St, Glasgow G41 3AA, website
The V&V Cafe (West End)
The V&V Cafe relaunched with a fully vegan menu in 2018 and since then has expanded its vegan and packaging-free retail section as well. I often come here to pick up vegan pastries or cakes as well as freshly backed bread on my way home from work.
481 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 8HL, website
Markets in Glasgow
Markets are a great way to shops packaging free as well as supporting local businesses, producers and farmers.
There are two farmer’s markets in Glasgow. The farmer’s market at Queen’s Park in the Southside happens every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, the market at Mansfield Park in the West End takes place on the 2nd and 4th Saturday.
Platform at Argyle St Arches
Platform is a thriving new street food market in the city centre of Glasgow. I’ve included it in this list, because all of the cutlery and packaging they use is plastic-free – so you can take a break from shopping without harming the environment.
Vegetable boxes in Glasgow
The weekly veg box from Locavore usually contains 7-9 different vegetables, depending on the season and availability. All the produce will be sourced locally, often grown my the Locavore team themselves, but never from outside the UK. If you have a subscription you can also add one of Locavore’s monthly special boxes – organic local meats and cheeses, grains or pasta from the bulk section, a vegan chilled box or sweet or savoury treats. However, not all of these will always be plastic free. Find out more here.
Weekly veg+ box from £5 + £2 delivery
Roots & Fruits boxes
The weekly veg box from Roots & Fruits usually contains a selection of potatoes, carrots, onions, bananas, apples, garlic, lemons, plus some additional fruit and vegetables from the market. You can choose between organic and non-organic produce and add things like mushrooms or eggs to your delivery for an additional cost. Find out more here.
Weekly veg+ box from £15, free delivery in Glasgow
Zero waste beauty & household products in Glasgow
You can buy a few zero waste, natural and vegan beauty products in some of the above-mentioned shops (e.g. Harvest Co-op, Roots & Fruits, Locavore), but often also at markets, particularly vegan markets such as the monthly Big Vegan Fete at the Flying Duck.
Lush is another good resource for packaging free soap and bath bombs as well as other bathroom products in reusable black plastic tubs.
For more variety as well as plastic-free bathroom utensils it is easier to turn to zero waste online shops.
UK-based zero waste online shops
Anything but Plastic
Anything But Plastic is a small independent online shop with a small but essential collection of plastic-free products to kick off your zero-waste lifestyle. From cleaning products and utensils for your bathroom and kitchen to plastic-free toiletries and makeup you can stock up on all your essentials and support a local business at the same time. You can also get steel lunch boxes and water bottles, bees wax wrappers, produce bags and soap nuts here. Anything But Plastic ships UK-wide and on special request also to Europe – enquire before ordering.
Ships from Glasgow, website
Society Zero Glasgow (coming soon)
Society Zero is a new social enterprise which currently sets up its pop-up market stall on a regular basis in and around Glasgow but is also working towards an online shop in the future. They are currently fundraising to meet their goals, which you can support by donating here. Their aim is to sell ‘zero waste kits’ – essentials you need to begin your zero waste life.
Will ship from Glasgow, website
Plastic Freedom offers a bigger selection of plastic-free essentials and has a more extensive range of products and brands to choose from. Owner Beth lives in Southport from where she send out all orders from her shop herself. In the shop you’ll find skincare, haircare, make up, other bathroom essentials, kitchen products, homewares, produce bags and plenty of takeaway utensils for on the go. Plastic Freedom ships UK-wide and on special request also to Europe and the US.
Ships from Southport, website
No Plastic Shop
No Plastic Shop sells a variety of plastic-free kitchen, bathroom and home items from hand-selected ethical brands. They also have a vegan section making it easier to shop for things free of animal-products. No Plastic Shop ships UK-wide and to the rest of the EU.
Ships from the UK, website
Zero Waste Club
Zero Waste Club goes one step further than the other online shops in this list. They don’t just sell zero waste items for your home and bathroom, but also offer delivery of packaging free groceries, like pasta, beans, grains, condiments or cereal. Zero Waste Club ships UK-wide.
Ships from London, website
I hope you find this zero waste shopping guide to Glasgow useful and if you have never thought about shopping plastic-free and reducing the amount of single-use plastic in your life, I hope you found it inspiring!
Have you ever went on a plastic-free shopping spree in Glasgow or your own hometown?
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Photos by Kathi Kamleitner.