Sustainability Stores – Are They More Than Your Average Food Store?

When I decided to embark on my plastic-free and toxic-free lifestyle, health food stores became my new best friend. I was always excited to try to find new toxic and plastic-free products. When something catches my attention I love to research it. Of course, the internet is convenient and you have 1000s of products at your fingertips but I have also found it to be overwhelming. 

There are so many products to choose from and I find you have to be quite specific in what you’re searching for. For me going into the store and seeing what’s available is by far the better option. I can see the choice in front of me and can compare the prices at a glance. There are also products I never even knew existed or that I never knew I needed!

Are You New to Health Food Stores? Lets Dive In!

My local health food store became my go-to for all my health and beauty products. I tried different brands of natural deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shower gels and lip balms. There are so many options to choose from in a health store. It’s great. And I found if one didn’t work as well as I wanted it to, I could choose from the many other options, all of varying prices. 

If you’re new to health food stores, I’m making them sound amazing! I’ve focused purely on the health and beauty side of their stock but naturally, they also hold food options for various diets and a vast amount of supplements too. So are there any downsides I hear you ask! Of course there are. For me, health food stores are often pricey. Of course, you can often find the same product online for a fraction of the price. 

I would caution, particularly for supplements, but also certain beauty products, you do have to be wary that what you’re buying online is the real deal. If you feel confident in the product you’re buying and you want to buy it online for a cheaper price then no judgement here, I have done and do the same. I am mindful though that some of the health food stores I visit are independently run and by buying from them, I’m supporting a local business and business owner. 

Why Shop Locally in Your Health Store?

My local health food store is within walking distance, so by shopping from them, rather than online, I figure I’m also cutting down on my carbon footprint which is a win-win in my eyes!

As I was in my local high street, reducing my carbon footprint, I came across what I thought was another health food store. I’ve walked past it a number of times and not gone in as I had begun visiting the health store at the other end of the street and figured I didn’t need another one to try (and quite frankly I would have felt guilty about not going to my ‘original’ store!) The other day, however, I decided to take a closer look and found that it was actually more of a sustainability store. All of the food is packaged predominantly in paper packaging or in those long tubes where you bring your own containers to fill up from – think the tubes you see in the M&M world! 

There are big containers of shampoo and conditioner for you to bring your own bottles to fill up which worked out cheaper than buying the individual bottles of the same products. They also stock a line of make-up in which all of the ingredients are natural and come in bamboo containers. Okay, the line wasn’t vast but it did have the basics, foundation, mascara, blush, eyeshadow and a multi-use make-up pencil. 

You also bought the product, including the bamboo container, the first time and then refills after that which I found pretty sustainable. These types of products are exactly where I think health food stores are lacking. Yes they do try to include natural products, it’s just their products are often not sustainable. They are often packaged in plastic packaging, particularly the foodstuffs. This store that I had walked into was like a treasure trove for the plastic-free and toxic-free wannabees amongst us. There were so many products that I hadn’t realised were available. For example, I found mesh and wooden soap dishes… I was fascinated by everything they had in there and I wanted to buy the whole store! I am by no means finished in my quest for my home to become plastic-free and this store will keep me going for a while, even if it’s putting things on my Christmas list or treating myself after payday, I will be a new loyal customer.

So does this mean I will no longer be going to my local health food store? Absolutely not! I believe that there is a place for both on the high street. I’ve found the health food store focuses mainly on food, supplements and health and beauty products. These are of course available at the sustainability store, it’s just there aren’t as many options. What you can get from there is a much richer plastic-free experience for the entire house, room by room. Having both is the best of both worlds. You can have your cake and eat it!

I hope by reading this article, I’ve inspired you to check out your local sustainability store if you haven’t already and I really hope that we see more of these popping up on your local high street in the near future.