How to be Zero Waste in the Bay Area

Pollution in Bay with bird
Photo by: Nancy Parker

Pollution in our Bay

As we approach the winter season, how to celebrate safely is something we’re all thinking about. It’s also a good time to think about how our choices impact the health of the San Francisco Bay. During this time of shelter in place, our Bay is being trashed with an increasing amount of single-use food containers and PPE. Single use plastics in our Bay harm wildlife and poison the Bay itself. Read the recent SF Chronicle article, featuring our Executive Director, David Lewis, about how rainfall is moving more trash, including PPE into our Bay. This winter season is a great time to start using zero waste products! Our individual actions this season can make a huge difference, both in terms of reducing the spread of Covid, protecting the health of our families, and protecting the health of the Bay. As you plan COVID-safe, celebratory meals with your household this season we encourage you to be zero waste! Below we list some ideas and resources on how to have zero waste celebrations in the Bay Area this winter. Let us know if you have more ideas, we would love to hear them! Having a completely zero waste lifestyle can take a while to create but start small with changing a couple of single-use items to zero waste products.

Zero Waste Table Setting:

  • Reusable plates/cups/utensils instead of single use plastic plates, cups, silverware. Bonus: purchase from local artists!
  • Reusable bowl covers & beeswax wraps instead of aluminum foil/saran wrap. Check out these products by Mishka, made here in the Bay Area!
  • Decorate your table with beautiful fall leaves that have fallen off trees in your neighborhood.

Zero Waste Cleaning:

  • Only run dishwasher when full
  • Compost – Does your city have curbside pickup for compost?
  • Reusable leftover containers, like Stasher Bags & EcoLunchbox (Bay Area companies) instead of plastic ziplock bags
  • Plastic-free sponges
  • Eco-friendly dish soap & detergent

Zero Waste Gifts & Gift Wrapping:

  • Purchase zero waste gifts for your family & friends! Check out these great Holiday Gift Bundles from The Source Zero in San Jose & Mighty Market in Martinez!
  • Wrap your gifts in reusable materials: fabric, newspaper, cardboard, etc! Get creative!
  • Support local artists and stores in the Bay Area! #shoplocal
  • Gift a membership to local museum, a class, workshop or a subscription-all are zero waste!

Zero Waste Groceries:

  • Purchase produce from your local farmer’s market
  • Subscribe to a CSA Box and support local farmers
  • Purchase from local Zero Waste Shops & Delivery services (see below)
  • Bring reusable fruit & vegetable bag to get your produce at the grocery instead of using the plastic bags that are provided
  • Bring your reusable bag to carry all your groceries home!

Zero Waste Shops & Delivery in the Bay Area:

Check out these shops, delivery and take-out services here in the Bay Area! Some of the shops have online stores so if they aren’t in your immediate area still check them out!

Delivery to most of the Bay Area:

  • Zero Grocery delivers to most of the Bay Area, soon LA!
  • Fillgood, Store in Berkeley but delivers to most of the Bay Area


East Bay:

  • Fillgood, Store in Berkeley but delivers to most of the Bay Area
  • ReUp Refills, Store in Oakland and delivers by bike in the Oakland Area
  • MudLab, Store in Oakland
  • Mighty Market, Store in Martinez 
  • Fulfilld delivers to Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro

South Bay:

San Francisco/North Bay:


Source: Litterless