I will keep this list updated as I explore and learn more. Please let me know if you’ve found any other places that aid in a zero waste lifestyle!
Central Market: Buy fruits, veggies, mushrooms, (sometimes salad greens depending on the location), bulk flour, sugar, spices, nuts, granola, oats, candy, chocolate, tea, coffee, fresh bread all with your own bags. They do have bulk honey and nut butters as well — but I haven’t tried buying these with my own jar as I don’t know whether the cashiers can handle the whole tare process. I have brought my own jar for hummus in the olive bar section and used the scale there to tare + print my checkout label (which was a bit of a pain as it took a while to figure out). Unfortunately, they don’t have the same scale in the bulk section. Overall though, Central Market is the bulk winner based off of the sheer amount of items available in the bulk section.
Whole Foods: Buy fruits, veggies, mushrooms, (sometimes salad greens depending on the location), bulk flour, sugar, spices, nuts, granola, oats, candy, chocolate, tea, coffee all with your own bags. They also have bulk honey and nut butters as well. However — I have heard that it is very hit or miss as to whether they let you bring your own jars.
Sprouts: Buy fruits, veggies, some bulk flour, sugar, spices, nuts, granola, candy, chocolate with your own bags. Much smaller selection than Central Market but really good prices. I’ve noticed that they frequently have pre-measured bulk items available to buy in plastic containers (nut butters, candy, etc.) — which kind of defeats the purpose of buying bulk.
Market Street: This one was a bit of a surprise. My husband wandered in to the Market Street in Allen (Watters Creek) and noticed they had honey and canola oil in bulk. He asked the store manager whether they could handle us bringing our own jars and she said yes! We haven’t had to utilize this yet (since I stocked up on liquid bulk items at the AMAZING in.gredients store in Austin — highly recommend if you are driving through!) but will report back on if this works out.
Dallas Farmers Market (or any farmers markets in the area): Fruits and veggies. Especially a good way to get berries that aren’t packaged in plastic (more on that next).
Pick Your Own Farms
Berries. My husband loves them. I hate that they are always pre-packaged. Enter the pick your own farms. The winner here is Blueberry Hills Farm for amazing blueberries and blackberries. Last year, we picked 2 massive bags of blueberries (yes, they ultimately put them in a big old freezer bag, but I prefer that once a year to weekly plastic cartons). I used one bag to make jams and stuck the other bag in the freezer. We’re finally running out a year later but will be back to pick some more this June. There’s a new strawberry picking farm opening this year which I will check out and report back on!
Recycle Revolution Dallas: Come here to recycle all traditional materials and electronics waste for free (if your city doesn’t have these services). They also take styrofoam for a fee — although, I would avoid styrofoam as much as possible.
Recycle Revolution Dallas: For a $1/gallon — drop off “fruits and vegetables (i.e. produce), meats, dairy, grains and carbohydrates, sweets, powders, compostable utensils and to-go bags.” A great option if you aren’t able to compost at home. For reference, I fill our 5 gallon bucket to the brim in 4-6 weeks.
Household Chemical Reuse Center (Plano and Allen residents only): Unused/unfinished chemicals (cleaning, yard, pest control, paint) that are picked up by the city are available for reuse at this center. And it’s completely free! I find it wonderful for spray paint and ant killer.
United Electronics Recycling: I visited this facility and was amazed by the sheer amount of electronics they process. I also love that they have zero landfill initiative. If an item has a plug or has used batteries — it’s eligible to recycle. They also take all types of batteries (not just rechargeable ones). In Plano, they have a weekly e-recycling drop off but also do one off events across the Dallas-area.
SCRAP Denton: Great for all those random items (mostly craft related supplies). SCRAP Denton takes different items at different times of the year so check their website periodically for updates. However, I have usually found that I was able to get rid of a lot of these items through FreeCycle. However, a great resource for those closer to Denton.
Making your own vegetable stock is so, so simple (I mean, it’s not even a recipe really) AND you get to utilize scraps before they are ultimately thrown in the compost AND you get to avoid buying a box of stock that would get thrown in to recycling. It’s a win all around. So let’s get started.
First, you want to collect some vegetable scraps. I have a tin in the freezer that I throw scraps in to — when the tin is full, I use it to make stock. Good veggies for stock are carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, leeks — basically, hardy vegetables that aren’t too bitter or starchy (so avoid potatoes, cabbage, too many leafy greens).
Throw the veggies in a pot, cover with water, and bring close to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for an hour (I left the pot uncovered during this time).
Note: I had just cut up a roast chicken before I made this so I threw in the bones/remains as well for some extra flavor.
After an hour, I took the pot off the stove and strained the veggies and chicken out with a mesh strainer. My yield was about 40 oz. I separated out the broth into 3 containers and stuck them in the freezer. Whenever I’m ready to use my broth, I’ll thaw it out and we’ll be good to go!
Nope — I don’t mean La Mer cream or gold toilets. Our “luxury items” are those items that are housed in plastic (particularly #7, which our city takes but doesn’t really have a market to sell those plastics to) or end up in the landfill. But for now — these items are what we have, love, or haven’t found suitable recyclable or zero waste alternatives for.
Sonicare brush heads (landfill): Can’t quit these! They keep my teeth in great condition and I’m not willing to switch over the bamboo toothbrushes yet. Maybe someone can make bamboo brush heads or something for Sonicares?
Makeup products (landfill or Origins): I love makeup and skincare. And I’m not giving them up anytime soon. But unfortunately, a lot of these containers are mixed materials. My only option for my empties is taking them to Origins with the Return to Origins program. Better than the landfill, right? This still isn’t ideal for me and I would love to move towards getting products with compostable or reusable packaging. Any favorite brands?
Dog food bags (landfill): My dogs have to eat. And they both require their own special foods for various reasons. This isn’t even a luxury item. It’s just a real life necessity. And that’s totally okay.
Frozen fruits/veggies bags (landfill): I’ve been cutting back on these but every once in a while, I just need some frozen peas! I guess I could shell my own peas and freeze them but, I’m sorry, I don’t have time for all that! I wish these bags were more eco-friendly. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know!
Styrofoam take out containers (landfill): Although a lot of these have that little #6 on the bottom, nope, they are seldom recyclable curbside (and if they are in your location, there isn’t much market to actually recycle them). You can find a list of places near you that might take these here but even in a big city like Dallas, there are only 1 or 2 locations. But I still love me some takeout. And I haven’t yet grown the balls to take my own container to my favorite Tex-Mex place and ask them to fill it (since I strongly doubt they would due to “sanitary” reasons or whatever). I have been good about not taking my leftovers home in restaurant takeout containers but for the occasional pick up, yep, we still get a small handful of these every month.
I don’t think zero waste/minimalism and loving fashion and beautiful homes have to be mutually exclusive. I think it just means being mindful of purchases. With that in mind… I only recently got into the whole thrifting thing. I know, I know. What was I doing? But I made a resolution this year to ONLY buy thrifted clothing items. Nothing new. Actually, initially — my idea was to not buy any new clothes until March. But once I started thrifting, I realized I could do it the rest of the year — no problem. My husband even got in on it too. I feel good about buying clothes that are already out in the “clothing stream” and I’m happy to give new life to clothes that could otherwise end up unworn, thrown away, or sent to another country (to then ultimately end up in that country’s waste stream). I also learned that thrifting doesn’t mean my only option is to go to the thrift store and sift through unorganized racks for hours on end. If I’m looking for a particular item or something a little higher end, Poshmark and ThredUp have been fabulous. For those of you scared of thrifting, don’t be. There are finds to be had! So if you need a little encouragement, here are the items I’ve picked up (for quite a steal) over the past 3 months. (And of course — I follow the one in-one out rule in my closet!)