The Source Zero: San Jose’s Zero Waste Solution

If you don’t have local access to a package-free store, starting the zero waste process can be especially challenging. Sometimes that means we have to make our purchases online, possibly from websites that can’t ship their goods in sustainable packaging.

Even in California, finding a local zero waste supply store isn’t always easy (Check out our list here). We have Whole Foods, Sprouts, and many independent grocery stores throughout the state. But when it comes to household cleaning supplies, hygiene/beauty products, on-to-go items, or things that *should be* refilled, Whole Foods and Sprouts often come up short.

This is why The Source Zero is such a helpful resource. Smack dab in the middle of a city that is growing at lightning speed, you might walk by their chic venue on your way to the office, or maybe on your way to lunch. From the street, The Source Zero looks like an fancy boutique nestled just steps away from some of the tastiest bars and gastro pubs in San Jose.

As you stroll by, key items catch your eye. A rectangular window allows the passerby to peer into the warmly lit room. On the opposite wall, you can see a refillery station for customers to reuse their own containers for various soaps and cleansers.

To the right, shelves are carefully lined with plastic-free hair ties, deodorant, utensils, straws, bags… All the basic essentials, carefully placed in tidy rows that make the experience extremely enjoyable. Zero Waste “R” Us.

Your first thought might be something like, wow, I would love to support a zero waste business. But can I afford to shop here?

Let’s face it, many small-businesses, regardless of what they’re selling, have to mark up their prices just to function! That’s a cruel reality.

But let me put your fears to rest. Their prices are very competitive. I walked in with what I considered reasonable expectations for such a nice establishment. Basically that they would be very expensive. They’re in a prime location, they sell high quality items, and shit, it’s San Jose. So when I clumsily shuffled through their lovely reusable mugs and tumblers, I tried to hide my surprise when I realized most of their items were less than what Amazon or Whole Foods charge. They also had unique items that were never available in Whole Foods and difficult to find online, like vegan/plastic-free dental floss.

I feel like this is a good moment to mention that I am no way endorsed by any store or company or product I recommend. If I had a bad experience somewhere, I would let the owner or management know why, and give them another chance. If it still didn’t meet my standards, I just wouldn’t write about them at all. I’m not out to bring down the companies that are trying, just the ones that are destroying the planet. Like The Sunshine Project.

So the only money that exchanged hands between myself and The Source Zero was about $24 for bamboo floss and a fancy bubblegum pink wine tumbler wine I bought after I snapped a few shots of the store. I saw that same tumbler on Amazon for twice the price I paid at TSZ, just saying.

I also wanted one for over two years. So, happy birthday to me.

The Source Zero is an incredible resource. It’s a supply store designed to set up the zero waste pioneer with all the essentials so that they can be independent of plastic.

Freedom, baby. Yeah.

So if you haven’t ventured into this lovely shop, what are you waiting for? The staff are lovely and are happy to help get you started on your zero waste path. I find this very comforting. These people are stellar zero waste coaches. They get it. And they chose an occupation that allows them to share their knowledge. That’s pretty commendable.

A big thanks to Maddie for showing us the store! I can’t wait to come back!