5 Local Bulk Bars and Refill Stations

Austin Texas Local Bulk Bars and Refill Stations

 It’s no secret that the U.S. has a big plastic problem and that retail and grocery stores are a significant part of it. That’s why bulk shopping, also known as zero-waste shopping, has become so popular among conscious consumers in recent years.

Shopping in bulk might seem intimidating at first, but it’s fairly simple. All you need are clean containers to bring to a local zero-waste store. (Some have their own containers for purchase). Most items at bulk bars and refill stations are priced by weight, so an employee will weigh your empty containers when you arrive. After you fill those containers with your favorite products, the employees will weigh them again, and you’re all set to pay and go.

Refill JarsPhoto by Markus Spiske

You can buy all kinds of products in a bulk bar or refill station. Whether you’re looking for pasta, flour, coffee grounds, or even soaps and lotions, there’s a way to purchase them sans plastic packaging. If you’re ready to take the zero-waste plunge, here are some of our favorite bulk bar and refill stations in the Austin area:

1. Wheatsville Food Co-Op

Wheatsville Food Co-Op is a full-service, natural foods store that’s been around since the 70s. It’s also the only retail food cooperative in the state of Texas. Its mission is to create “a self-reliant, self-empowering community of people that will grow and promote a transformation of society toward cooperation, justice, and non-exploitation.” This local gem is loaded with bulk items, where you can fill your own containers with pantry staples, herbs, spices, teas, coffee, laundry detergent, soap, and bath and body products.

2.Trashless

The self-proclaimed “milkman for everything,” Trashless is an online zero-waste grocery delivery service. It’s a great option if you don’t have time to go to the grocery store but don’t want to contribute to the plastic waste that typically comes with food deliveries. They also offer local, zero-waste meal kit plans — shopping and cooking responsibly just got a whole lot easier! Better yet, there are no delivery fees, and you can get your reusable containers picked up on request for free or refilled with the next delivery.

3. Manor Market Refillery

Manor Market is in San Marcos, TX, about 30 miles outside of Austin. This adorable shop carries a variety of zero-waste bulk items, including soaps, baby care products, hair and dental care, lotions, sunscreen, essential oils, household cleaners, cooking oils, and pet products.

4. Rick’s Refills

Believe it or not, ink cartridge recycling makes a difference! Only 20% of printer cartridges purchased annually are recycled; most of those cartridges are disposed of as landfill, incinerator, or barge waste. The ink, plastics, and metals from this waste then enters our water sources and eventually ends up back in the atmosphere, where they most definitely do not belong.

Rick’s Refills is dedicated to stopping the cycle of pollution by recycling and refilling cartridges. It also ends up saving you roughly 50% of the cost of a new cartridge — and keeps that empty cartridge out of the landfill.

5. Slow North

Last but certainly not least, we’re so excited to highlight our own bulk bar

Slow North Bulk BarSlow North's Bulk Bar for Herbs, Incense, and More Austin Texas Zero-Waste

You can bring your own containers to our shop and fill them with loose herbs, incense, body oils, face masks, bath salts, and other natural products. 

We also offer refillable glass spray bottles for purchase. You can also find zero-waste cleaning and household items to pair with your finds from the bulk bar, cotton cloths, natural wood brushes, and bamboo soap shelves among them.

Have you tried anything from our bulk bar recently? Tell us about your favorite find!

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.