As we celebrate Earth Day this month, we also want to highlight and reintroduce sustainable practices. Since the start of the pandemic, disposables have made their way into our lives through increased online shopping, the inability to use reusables in grocery stores, and from personal protective equipment purchases. Now, a year into the pandemic, there is evidence that shows that reusables are not a COVID-19 threat. In a GreenPeace International Article,
Dr. Mark Miller, former director of research at the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center stresses that, “public health must include maintaining the cleanliness of our home, the Earth,” and “the promotion of unnecessary single-use plastics to decrease exposure to the coronavirus negatively impacts the environment, water systems, and potential food supply compared to the safe use of reusable bags, containers, and utensils.”
With life slowly returning to normal, consider revisiting shopping in bulk and utilizing refill shops. Refilling and shopping in bulk is a great way to put reusables back on the table and support local businesses, putting sustainability and community first.
We have developed a list of local bulk and refill shops in the East Bay, where you can fill up on all your favorite household items. From beans and grains to beer and kombucha, laundry and dish detergent — we have got you covered!
Personal Care and Home
FillGood Co., Albany
Owned and operated by Stéphanie Regni, FillGood offers a selection of refillable and sustainable household goods including, Body Lotions and Oils, Household Cleaning Supplies, Laundry Refillables, and Makeup. FillGood cares deeply about how their products could potentially impact our health and our environment, so at FillGood, you’ll only find truly natural products, carefully screened by Stéphanie herself. Read more about Stephanie, and FillGood’s commitment to the planet here. The Ecology Center is a pick-up location for FillGood, so you can get your products delivered to a location closer to you!
The Re-Up Refill Shop offers a range of ecological bath and body, cooking, and cleaning products in refillable containers, reducing waste from single-use plastics. Re-Up offers local bike delivery and in-store pick-up options, and they are also currently allowing customers to bring their own containers!
Grocery and Healing
MudLab Cafe and Grocery Store, Oakland (UPDATE 6/28/2023-Mudlab unfortunately closed early 2022)
MudLab is a cafe and store and their mission is to envision and build a world with a circular economy. They aim to make sustainability accessible, affordable, and convenient to people from all walks of life. Their product selection includes items such as beeswax wraps, local honey, bulk grains and legumes, and goods from Straus Milk, Boichik Bagels, House Kombucha, and Judy’s Eggs. Check out their selection here and order for in-store pickup.
MudLab Cafe and Grocery Store also leads Lake Clean Up on the second Saturday of each month at Lake Merritt to help keep their neighborhood litter-free. Visit their meet-up site for more information!
Mandela Grocery, Oakland
Mandela Grocery is operated, centrally governed, and democratically controlled by their worker-owners. Mandela prioritizes sourcing from local farmers and food purveyors and intentionally supports businesses run by people of color. Their store has the following departments: Local & Organic Produce, Hormone Free Dairy, Well Selected Grocery & Sundry Items, Household Goods & Pet Food, Bulk (including bulk Herbs & Spices), Frozen Food Variety, Grab & Go Meals, Household Goods, Natural Bath & Beauty Products.
The Co-op also features a Karma Jar. The balancing action of the Karma Jar allows Mandela to pay it forward, helping those in need buy groceries. The Karma Jar is available online so anyone with internet access wanting to help those in need buy groceries, can give. Give to the Karma Jar here.
Berkeley Bowl – Bulk Goods, Berkeley
Berkeley Bowl, the former bowling alley has been a neighborhood favorite for grocery shopping. Their bulk aisles are packed full of self-serve bulk foods including baking and nutritional products, beans, peas and lentils, confections, dried fruit, nuts, pasta, rice, seeds, snacks, spices, teas, and more. Whenever possible, they source their bulk food items from local farms and producers too guarantee great prices and high quality products with the lowest impact on the environment. Bulk items have been pre-packaged to limit COVID-19 exposure.
Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland, Albany (UPDATE 6/28/23-Oaktown halted refill operations in 2020)
Oaktown Spice Shop searches far and wide for the best tasting selection of spices. They grind spices in- store every couple of weeks. This means the ground spices customers find at Oaktown are bursting with flavor and fresh. Their spices can be purchased in bulk, meaning you don’t have to run to the store as often for your favorite spices. Visit their website for hours, recipes, and more information.
Lhasa Karnak, South Berkeley and Central Berkeley
Lhasa Karnak offers a large selection of high quality herbs, essential oils, and other natural products. They specialize Western medicinal herbs and culinary spices,and also have a nice collection of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs. Check out their selection and stock up on your favorite teas, herbs, extracts and essential oils!
House Kombucha, San Leandro, Locations in Oakland.
House Kombucha is a woman founded and operated business based in San Leandro, that makes tasty Kombucha by brewing in the traditional way, steeping delicious tea until it is nice and strong, then hiding it away in a quiet dark room to ferment. House Kombucha’s use of high quality herbs and teas and fine-tuned attention to time and conditions gives their kombucha its distinctive, exquisite taste. Browse their kombucha selection here.
Coming Soon: House Kombucha will offer free tastings and zero-waste growler refills at our mini tap-house within Belladi Rotisserie, their partner restaurant in Jack London Square, Oakland.
Gilman Brewing, Berkeley, *21+
Located near our Second Street recycling center on Gilman St. Gilman Brewing is known for their award-winning farmhouse style saisons, bold and refreshing IPAs, and a range of other classic and experimental styles. Gilman Brewing offers take-home options in limited release cans and bottles and also offer growler or crowler refills. Check out their selection and order here.
Drake’s Brewing Company, Oakland, *21+
Drake’s started brewing inside a former Dodge car factory during the first wave of craft beer in the Bay Area. Now, Drake’s has opened a Barrelhouse and a restaurant in the Bay Area that serve delicious food and craft beer. In light of COVID-19 safety concerns, Drake’s established a Growler Exchange Program, where you can drop off your existing growler and Drake’s will give you a professionally cleaned and sanitized growler in-return. Check out their beer selection here for in-store pick-up.
Did we miss a business you love? If you have any suggestions for Refill or Bulk Shopping in the East Bay not included in this list leave it in the comments below, or email our Helpdesk, email@example.com, to put it on our radar!