Unwrapping Chicago’s Best Zero-Waste Shops

April 18, 2024

In celebration of Earth Day, I want to make sure you know about these three zero waste and eco-friendly shops in Chicago! Here’s how it works: bring your jars and containers from home or borrow one from the store, weigh your container and mark the weight, pick out what you want (detergent, shampoo, spices, etc.), and pay for only the product you took. Each of these stores has a real sense of neighborhood community judging by how many regulars seemed to pop in during our visits. Some customers donate their own containers and tote bags, and at least two of these shops have a take-a-book/give-a-book library! So go check out these shops and remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

The Eco Flamingo 

The Eco Flamingo, Chicago’s first zero waste general store, was opened in Lincoln Square in 2020 by Jackie MacCartie and Bethany Barbouti. They have the most food options of the three and the staff was so friendly and helpful! They list their refillable menu on their website so you can check what they have in stock. They offer a wide variety of dried fruits, sugars, candies, spices, and oils. Visit them in-store or online to learn about their April Earth Month workshops and events! We tried the Unpaste toothpaste tablets and the Dip shampoo and conditioner bars. 

The Refilleri

The Refilleri, owned by Kelli Pelc, in Humboldt Park, opened its bright and friendly shop in January 2023. They have so many cool products that I didn’t know existed, like 100% compostable zipper bags and kitchen trash bags! We took home a box of Earths Laundry detergent sheets, and so far we’re very impressed! What a great item to throw in your suitcase the next time you’re on a long vacation rental! Same with the Huppy toothpaste tablets – such an easy thing to pack! If you’re just dipping your toes into the no-waste journey, you can bring in a container as small as a pill bottle to test out different varieties. Then, once you find what you like, you can bring in your huge Tide detergent bottle and use it at the refill stations! 

The Unwaste Shop 

The gorgeous Unwaste Shop in the West Loop, owned by Todd Barancik, opened in late 2022. Todd cheerfully explained how the refill stations work while welcoming regulars into the shop. It was all so charming and there were so many options! Favorite finds here were the never ending pencil and the Meliora Foaming Handsoap Refill Tablets. They also recommended I try the Huppy brand of toothpaste tabs after I mentioned I found the Unpaste ones to be too chalky. Definitely preferred that brand over the other!

We have a list of Earth Day ideas and events over here, too! Did you know that every neighborhood in Chicago has a clean-up day this weekend?! It’s a massive and impressive undertaking by the Chicago Parks District and Friends of the Parks. Find your neighborhood clean-up schedule here!

Let me know where you are on your low-waste/no-waste/eco-friendly journey and if you have any favorite cleaning or beauty swaps! I hope you’re able to check out one of these adorably happy green boutiques if you haven’t been yet! Happy Earth Day, Chicago!


P.S. If you’re looking for more things to do in Chicago this Spring, I’ve got you covered!

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