Low waste, Independent, Vegan friendly: Your Guide to Sustainable Shopping in Lancaster

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Sustainable food shopping is important wherever you live, but Lancaster is filled with hidden gems that can make the process towards eco-friendly shopping a little bit easier – while also allowing you to support local, independent businesses.

It’s crucial to note that whenever we discuss sustainability that much of the change needed is not by individual consumers but by big businesses and that having the option to choose to shop at low-waste stores or eat a vegan diet is a privilege. However, it is still important to be aware of the many great options that are available in our local community. The shops highlighted in this article all have great options for a student budget, as well as plenty of vegan choices.

Single Step has amazing options for buying loose items like rice, couscous, oats and nuts in bulk, with the option to either bring your own containers or use their easily recyclable paper bags. Refills for products like oil and vinegar, as well as cleaning supplies are also available. They have a range of vegan and gluten-free foods that are difficult to find elsewhere in Lancaster. Their sister cafe, Whale Tail (which can be found next door) also has great options for anyone vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free. So, it’s the perfect place for any group with a range of dietary requirements. 

Filbert’s Bakery is my go-to place to buy bread, as they have a great range of freshly baked loaves and always have amazing customer service. The best time to visit is Saturday morning, as you’ll be able to pick up their infamous cinnamon buns, which are only made on Saturdays and often sell out quickly! Vegan cinnamon buns are also available, and there are plenty of other vegan dessert options available throughout the week which are perfect for a treat.

Shopping on a Saturday will also allow you to visit Lancaster’s Charter Market (which also opens on Wednesdays). It is home to a fresh fruit and veg stand, as well as Billy’s Eggs (which sells free-range eggs, local honey and jams). There are also several vegan options at the stalls that provide take away food – some of which also visit the markets on campus on Thursdays. 

Aldi has lots of budget-friendly options, and a great frozen vegan range with quick to make pizzas, burgers and sausages. Reusable produce bags can be bought very cheaply from Aldi, and if you bring your own shopping bags and opt for loose veg it’s easy to create a fairly low-waste shop.

KF Oriental Food Supermarket is well worth a visit for ingredients that can’t easily be found at other supermarkets. It is definitely cheaper to buy things like spices and soy sauce from here in the long run, and I’d recommend trying the noodle bar upstairs too! 

Lancaster is also home to some great charity shops, and I’ve found Oxfam to have a particularly good stock of cutlery and kitchenware if there’s anything you need to buy.

Hanging onto the tote bags you’ll inevitably pick up at freshers fair means you’ll always have some reusable bags on hand, and rather than buying expensive mason jars, simply washing out jars and containers from the food you buy will give you some good options for zero waste shopping. I’ve loved visiting the markets and a few of the local shops with a friend on Saturdays recently and I’d urge you to explore the amazing shops Lancaster has to offer on your doorstep.

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