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Refill not landfill: Manchester’s best zero waste shops and where to find them


As we find ourselves tumbling headfirst into the twenties, New Year’s resolutions are taking on more gravitas. And sustainability is right up there at the top.

Whilst we still need legislation to better safeguard our environment, there are things that can be done at home. And there are a lot of people in Greater Manchester working to make sure they happen.

The number of products we use on a regular basis can be astounding, and when buying from a supermarket each item comes individually packaged and sold in plastic bottles, creating more unnecessary waste.

Fortunately for us, the past year has seen a huge boom in sustainable and zero-waste shops popping up in and around Greater Manchester.

These sustainable shops allow you to take your own containers and refill them with eco-friendly, cruelty-free products that range from dried food to toiletries and household cleaning products.

As well as minimising on plastic packaging, products here also tend to be cheaper as they have been bought in bulk. Even better, you can buy as much or as little as you like to suit your needs (and your budget).

And by shopping small, you’re also supporting real passionate people, the local economy, and all of their independent suppliers too. What’s not to like?

Utopia (Irlam, Sale)


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Following success with her market stall, Louise Booth opened the refill and holistic store Utopia in Sale at the end of last year to educate and help others on their eco-friendly journey.

Items for sale include washing up liquid, washing scrubbers made from 100% hemp and 100% compostable dog litter bags. Expansion plans for 2020 include a move to stock basic dried food items and other groceries going forward.

A Small Good Thing (Bolton)

This community greengrocers in Bolton is focused on seasonal, organic produce and waste reduction. Owners encourage people to refill their own containers and reduce food waste, whilst backing local farmers who support a stronger eco-system.

Items for sale include organic fruit and vegetables, bulk kitchen cupboard staples, household cleaning and personal care products, waste saving products and hot soup (to be enjoyed within the shop).

A Small Good Thing also hosts regular events and workshops that bring people together and promote sustainable living practices.

Stretford Food Hall, Convenience Store (Stretford)

Alongside selling all your basic groceries, the convenience store at Stretford Food Hall is also a great place to start your refill journey. Many products on sale are local, but some come from further afield.

Take your empty containers to fill up on household staples and maybe even treat yourself to a nice beer afterward.

Unicorn Groceries (Chorlton)

This popular Chorlton Co-Op is well known here in Manchester and is pretty much a one-stop-shop for the ethical and sustainably minded.

Organic fruit and veg takes a starring role but you can also find essentials like pulses, grains, flours, nuts and spices, homemade salads, curries, stews and artisanal bread alongside household cleaning items and toiletries.

Want Not Waste (Manchester University)

Want Not Waste is a student-run business operating inside the Manchester University Students Union on Oxford Road.

Promoting sustainable goods and a sustainable way of life, the plastic-free shop caters to all refillable needs with dried goods, cleaning products, beauty and sanitary products, a TerraCycle station, cooking demos and talks on sustainability. They also sell wine and freshly made hummus.

Lentils and Lather (West Didsbury)

Find Lentils and Lather on Burton Road, just a stone’s throw from Withington Baths and the Burton Road tram stop.

The newly-opened zero waste shop offers a range of products to help people to eliminate plastic waste from food shopping, personal care and general household cleaning as well as hosting classes to promote personal sustainability.

Find a good mix of dried food, toiletries and cleaning products alongside ethically made soap bars and more. There are usually a few empty jars on hand for people who forget to bring their own reusables.

The Good Life (Heaton Mersey, Stockport)

At The Good Life in Heaton Mersey, you’ll find everything from dried foods, tea and beer to beauty, baby and home essentials.

All products sold here are sourced as locally as possible, are plastic-free and have minimal to no packaging. There are mini trollies to help get your little ones involved and even a sweet shop to treat them at the end (all sweets are vegetarian).

The Replenishary (Leigh)

Just two minutes’ walk from Leigh bus station, The Replenishery has been open since June last year and sells affordable dry goods, bathroom and cleaning products in bulk as well as sustainable reusable items.

Eighth Day Cafe (Oxford Road, City Centre)

This vegetarian cafe and shop has long been a popular fixture for locals and students alike.

Whilst you can find a large range of vegetarian foods for sale in the shop as well as in the cafe, for refills they currently only cater to laundry and personal care needs. However, dried goods food refills are due to arrive on site very soon.

Village Greens Co-Op (Prestwich)

Opened in 2014, Village Greens Co-Op in Prestwich specialises in fresh and affordable produce.

Here you’ll find value for money wholefoods in a range of sizes for all budgets alongside refillable household goods and self-help items. Fruit and veg are sourced locally where possible and are organic where availability allows.

The Sustainable Shed (Levenshulme)

Housed in a literal shed, this sustainable shop in Levenshulme focuses mostly on household cleaning products and toiletries.

Head down to find a mix of products from proven eco brands like BioD, Suma, Ecoleaf and Faith in Nature. Find it at the back of Park Avenue, just off Sadie Lane.

Blagg’s Hardware Store (Heaton Moor Road, Heaton Moor)

Blagg’s hardware store on Heaton Moor Road stocks a wide range of eco products and refills alongside other homeware and DIY essentials.

Plentiful, Ramsbottom

This Ramsbottom plastic-free store is not only lovely to look at it also has a great variety of sustainable and eco-friendly products for sale.

Step inside to find a mix of fresh and dried foods, cleaning products, household items and toiletries plus cute little gift bags and other sustainable things you didn’t even know you might need.

Mccall’s Organics (City Centre, Church Street)

First founded in 1926, Mccall’s Organics has been run by three generations of the McCalls family so far. Find a wide range of loose organic fruit and veg, as well as biodegradable and environmentally friendly cleaning products and cosmetics.

Ancoats General Store (City Centre, Ancoats)

Ancoats General Store now offers refills on cleaning products including detergent, washing up liquids, and conditioner alongside a good range of fresh fruit, veg and locally-baked breads.

They also sell their own growlers, so you can take home pints of beer from their bar in your own glass container.

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