Top Tips for Visiting a Zero Waste Shop

Zero-waste shopping is an exciting experience, even for the people who do it regularly. But for those of you who haven’t yet been, perhaps you’re feeling a bit anxious before your visit, not knowing what to expect. This guide will help calm your refill nerves as we share our top tips for shopping plastic-free for the first time. 

Write Your Shopping List 

Our number one go to before visiting Gertie, our Refills on Wheels van (or any other zero-waste shop) is to make a list as it can be very helpful. It might sound sillysilly, but it is so easy to forget something or become a bit overwhelmed by all of the options. 

You can check out our online shop to get an idea of the products that you will find in a zero-waste shop. Some products may vary between shops but, it can be a useful guide to use when writing your shopping list.  

Image of Gertie the Refill Van

Prepare Your Containers 

Now, this is probably going to be the key difference for first-time refillers – bringing your own containers to fill with your chosen goodies. We are huge fans of reusing over recycling so please bring along any container that you like; a mason jar, jam jar, ice cream tub or takeaway container, the way we see it, if it can be weighed, it can be used! As you begin to finish off what you have at home, why not start putting aside some of your containers in advance so you have plenty to choose from when it comes to refilling.  

The key thing to remember is to ensure that your chosen containers are clean and dry and have no remainders of old products in them. There’s nothing worse than soggy flour.. 

We always ensure that for any liquids, your containers are clean for the first use, but after this if you are refilling with the same product then feel free to top it up. For example, with shampoo – it's virtually impossible to get every last bit out and in a zero-waste way, we think it’s a shame to wash it out if you are refilling with the same product.  

We know that it can be a little overwhelming for the first time, so please don’t worry if you forget a jar or two – Gertie always has a small quantity of compostable paper bags on board to help transport your goods home. You can even keep them safe and bring them back next time to refill! 

Picture of customers containers for refilling

Organisation Is A Life Saver 

An additional tip for making your life a little easier when doing your zero-waste shop is organisation...  

It can be super helpful to think about what it is you would like to go in each container, finding one that looks right and labelling it. For example, if you have oil on your list, do you have an empty oil bottle or even an empty sauce bottle? By choosing a container that resembles what will be going in it, you are making life a lot easier in the adaption process to zero-waste. You can write on each container what it is you have chosen it for, so when you hand them over to us, we will know exactly what is going in what.  


Now you’re ready to go! You know exactly what you need so you can venture off and enjoy your first zero-waste shopping experience. 

We hope to see you soon at one of our stops, check out our Facebook Page to see where Gertie will be!

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