Starting with Scotland we’ve put together a guide to the very best sustainable shopping in our heather ladened northern land. There’s no surprise that a country with big areas of wilderness would have shops, cafes and interesting projects which support stopping waste from entering those beautiful mountains and cold seas.
Food Story - 13-15 Thistle Steet, Aberdeen
The zero waste café was spawned from the original kickstarter campaign back in 2013, which has led to a real community effort in getting this place set up. With most furniture donated there is barely a matching part in the whole café and the shelves are a little wonky but that’s what gives this place charm and character.
“We launched a Kickstarter with a dream of building a space where anyone of any age, any walk of life of life could not just eat great food but could come in and feel part of a community through art and music. We believe in bringing people together.”
The shop and café now have a decent range of fruit, veg, spices and a refill station for dry goods.
The Green Grocer - 76 West High Street Inverurie
Only set up back in 2012 you’d be forgiven to think that The Green Grocer had been a long established stalwart of the highstreet. A family business specialising in local produce they have a refill station for a range of herbs, oils and spices. They are rapidly becoming a go to authority on the local farming community.
Remakery - 127 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 8NP
“ Our vision is to create an alternative to a disposable society by making repair education accessible to all, to build a stronger, waste-free community and support vulnerable people within our city.”
The award winning Remakery is a social enterprise, part repair hub part second hand shop. Drop by and make a donation or learn to fix what you already have, there are lots of well repaired and good quality second hand items here.
Demijohn’s - - 32 Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2JW / 382 Byres Road Glasgow G12 8AR
We couldn’t put together a list of Scotlands sustainable shops without putting in somewhere to buy whiskey. Angus and Frances have really pushed to reduce their shops impact wherever they saw an opportunity and partner with suppliers who follow the Slow Food UK principles.
“We deliberately source products from producers close to us to reduce food miles. Our producers are all vetted by us so that we can be sure they use clean, fair and sustainable methods of production, in line with Slow Food UK principles”
There paper bags are either recycled paper or forestry stewardship council approved timber. They use environmentally friendly Portuguese cork for sealing the glass bottles and even the hampers are made of steamed willow that has a water based sealant, rather than the normal less friendly dark varnish stain.
Demijohn’s offers refills of on whisky, oils, and vinegars.
I J Mellis - 30a Victoria St EH1 2JW
Come for the refillable wine that’s on offer but stay for the cheese. Edinburgh’s finest cheesemonger has some excellent locally sourced cheese to choose from but made it onto our list because of the great selection of wine in their refill counter.
Real Foods - 37 Broughton St, Edinburgh, EH1 3JU
“Real Foods are committed ethical outlets stocking Fairtrade and environmentally friendly products. Always conscious of our impact on the environment”
Edinburgh’s first organic shop they have been trading in Edinburgh since 1975, they hold the title of the largest independent retailer of organic, fairtrade and ethically sourced products in Scotland. This is no doubt helped by their online retail presence which is well worth taking a look at. You’ll find household cleaning refills available and packaging free fruit, veg as well as refillables for dried foods.
New Leaf Co-op - 23 Argyle Pl, Edinburgh EH9 1JJ
“We focus on products that are fresh, local, organic, low packaging at a reasonable price and we're very proud of our jam-packed co-op shop“
The team of 4 who set up the new leaf have taken a community approach to their business paying themselves a living wage and putting any profit above this back into the shop to support community projects. They have maximised their potential by squeezing as many scoop your own packaging free products in here as possible with refillable soups, clean products, herbs, spices, teas, fruits, veg and even bakery items.
Locavore- 349 Victoria Road, Glasgow, G42 7SA.
Locavore is a social enterprise which helps build a more sustainable food system for their local community which supports the environment and economy.
“ We’re about making the money spent on food do more for the benefit of society and our environment”
Locavore has a shop, market garden and veg box scheme as well providing local education on sustainability. They are all about reducing food miles by supplying local and reducing the industrialised food processing industry with its artificial additives.
Expect to find lots of local fresh fruit, veg and loose grains, pulses, herbs, spices and flour as well as cleaning product refills.
Their website has an excellent breakdown of all the packaging that they use, the pros and cons of their packaging decisions and a call to action to bring your own whenever you visit them. We’re particularly impressed with this level of transparency. https://glasgowlocavore.org/our-packaging-practice/
Vino Valentino - 6 Chancellor St, Glasgow G11 5RQ
Scotland definitely has its share of fine alcohol refill stations and Vino Valentino does not disappoint with its offering of wine refills.
Society Zero - Online and in markets around Glasgow
“Armed with a drive to make Scotland beautiful again and renew societies view on waste and their own belongings to have less of an impact – the idea of Society Zero was born.”
The team behind this online shop and market stall have sourced a huge range of products all with biodegradable packaging or recyclable packaging. The site is stuffed with information on how to get the best out of their sustainable products too, with great hints, tips and guides on beeswax wraps among a hundred other things.
Emporium of Worldly Goods - 68 High St, Fort William PH33 6AD
With the best named shop on our list the emporium of worldly goods stocks only certified fair trade items approved by WFTO, BAFTS or are ethically sourced or made from within the UK.
You can refill shampoos, conditions and a surprisingly large selection of beauty products which are almost all vegan. As the leaders of the Fairtrade Town Campaign they are active in their local community and were shortlisted for the VIBES award (Environmental Service) in 2018.
Highland Health Store - 16 St John St, Perth PH1 5SP
Established back in the 80’s the highlands health store has a refill range including herbs, spices, dried fruits, nuts, teas, coffees and detergents. With a focus on health their store isn’t the best on the list for sustainability but their refill range is worth visiting and you have an interest in specialty health food then this is a goldmine.
Scotland has so many great sustainable projects going on throughout the highlands and islands as well as on its city streets. When putting together this list we were spoiled for choice for inspiration, if you have a favourite refill station or sustainable shop that we missed then comment below with details, we’ll be keeping this guide as up to date as possible.
Scotland is an inspiring place for sustainability and we’re not surprised that it has such a large and growing community of sustainable shoppers, with organisations like the findhorn ecovillage http://fics.findhorn.org/ which is world renowned for bringing together change-makers and educators in sustainability and acts as a catalyst for their ideas and hosts the international forum on sustainability you can see the sustainability movement overflowing into communities across Scotland.