Zero Waste Living

Low/Zero Waste Guide to Minneapolis and St. Paul

Those of us that live in the Twin Cities are lucky- we have a lot of resources at our fingertips to help aid in living a reduction-based life. As I mention in this post, minimalism and zero/low waste living have a lot of similarities, mainly because they both center around the concept of ‘reducing’. Therefore, if you’re living or planning to visit the Twin Cities and looking for eco and minimalist friendly resources, this guide is for you!

Visiting other areas in the midwest? This guide has resources and guide for staying low-waste throughout the area. 

Minneapolis and St. Paul Waste Reduction Initiatives and Resources

Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties all have different plans for combating waste. Check out these resources to find out more about what the two move heavily populated cities/counties in the Twin Cities have in store for the future.  



Thrift, Vintage, and Secondhand Shops

Buying items secondhand is a great way to reduce waste, because you are buying something already in existence- meaning no new resources were used to create the item. As I’ve started shopping almost exclusively secondhand, it is shocking how many items there are out there that people no longer want. 

Good news. The amount of thrift, secondhand, and vintage shops the Twin Cities has is astonishing! There was no way I would be able to list them all. However, there were a few worth pulling out. 

Clothes, furniture, and other household goods


Office furniture, supplies, and equipment


Home improvement materials 



Events, Classes, and Educational Opportunities

Want to learn zero waste/eco-friendly living tips? Meet like-minded people in person? Attending an event or taking a class is a great way to do just that! Check out each place for more info on class offerings.



Co-ops 

Another thing there is no shortage of in the Twin Cities is co-ops. Co-ops are a great place to get local items, find bulk offerings, support organizations that are involved with giving back to their local community, and more. 

For a full list of co-ops in Minnesota, check out this link here


Bulk Food Stores

Co-ops often have bulk food offerings. Some local grocery stores do as well (I know Cub Foods and Fresh Thyme have some selection). Otherwise, check out the options below. 

zero waste food packaging


Farmers Markets

There are tons of Farmers Markets to choose from on almost any day of the week in the Twin Cities. Farmers Markets are a great way to get in-season and local produce package free. Plus, you can talk with the farmers about their land use practices, and more. Check out this link to find one near you!


CSAs

Another option for getting package free and local produce/meat/dairy and supporting a local farmer is to join a CSA! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Typically with a CSA, you sign up at the beginning of the growing season which provides funding up front to the local farm. Once the items are ready, the farm typically drops off at a particular place where you can go pick up your stuff. Some farms offer volunteer hour for produce swaps.

Here is a list of CSA farms that deliver to the Twin Cities.


Nonprofits and Organizations to Support

There are so many great nonprofits and organizations to support in the Twin Cities areas, it would be impossible to list all of them. However, giving back to the community is a great way to live a sustainable life. 

To find a nonprofit that matches your values, check out the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits list. 

Looking to volunteer? Volunteer Match is a great resource for finding organizations who could use your help!


Zero/Low Waste Stores

Find zero/low waste food, toiletries, and other household goods at Minnesota’s first and (as of now) only zero waste store: Tare Market 


Looking for zero waste toiletries? Check out SUSTAINYOSELF– an online shop run by two sisters who hand make all the items for sale! Psst: they also have items available at Tare Market.



how to declutter your bathroom counter

Stores with zero/low waste supplies

Some mainstream stores have select zero/low waste items like toiletries, menstrual cups, reusable bags, compostable items, and more. Check with each individual store (or online) for full offerings. 

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Walgreens
  • Most of the co-ops also offer zero/low waste supplies (other than food) as well! Check out the list above. 


Clothing Repair Shops

What do you do when an item of clothing doesn’t fit, rips, or breaks? Do you throw it away? Sometimes, it is a quick and easy fix that you can do yourself. Other times, it is not. For those times, an alteration, tailor, or repair shop is all you need!

  • Repair Lair – specializes in repairing outdoor clothing
  • There are a large number of tailors and alteration shops in the Twin Cities and other areas – too many to list in this guide. A simple Google search should bring up a location nearest you. 


Fix-It Clinics

Fix-it clinics are a great resource for getting items fixed for free! These clinics happen periodically throughout the year in Hennepin County, and is one way to keep items out of the landfill. Check out the website for more information and to find the next clinic. 

19 books to help you reduce

Libraries

Why buy/own something when you can rent it for free or low cost? Check out this list of book libraries and other types of libraries that the Twin Cities has to offer.

Book Libraries 


Free Little Library Location Finder

Other Libraries


Groups

Want to get together with others who are learning how to live an eco-friendly life? 

compost bin with mixing tool next to it


Composting

Composting is a great way to reduce your waste and reduce greenhouse gases. New to composting? Check out my guide on how to do so in any sized space here. If you are looking for places to drop off compost, places that collect compost, or where you can get food scraps for your compost, check out this list.  

  • Here is a directory from the MN Composting Council with information on where to drop off compost, and which cities have curbside pickup. 
  • Share Waste is a community resource for those who want to connect with others and ‘donate’ food scraps for compost, or for community members to get rid of compost if they have some they can’t use. 

Garden Resources

Growing your own food is a great way to reduce waste in terms of packaging, emissions, and resources. You also can control what goes on your food! Additionally, a garden can be a great way to build community. You don’t even have to go all out if you aren’t able. A pot of tomatoes on your front step is considered a garden!

New to gardening? Check out my post on how to grow your own vegetables in any sized space here

Below are some super helpful and resourceful groups for learning about gardening, asking questions, swapping supplies, and more. 


Finally, here is a list of Minnesota/Northern specific garden blogs for all your gardening needs.

the life changing magic of tidying up

Swap Groups

One of the unexpected benefits of living a reduction-based lifestyle is connecting with my local community and neighbors. Swap/buy nothing groups are just one way I’ve experienced this. Here are some that are active in Minneapolis/St. Paul. 



Outdoor Equipment Rentals

The land of 10,000 lakes is also home to a variety of outdoor activities. Bonus: being outside is good for our mental and physical health and is a great way to engage in a sustainable lifestyle. That all being said, living a reduction-based lifestyle means reducing consumption, and if there is a particular outdoor activity that you don’t do often, it might not make sense to buy new equipment. But great news- the Twin Cities has some options for renting equipment. 

  • REI – Bloomington
  • UMN Rec and Wellness – Minneapolis. 
  • There are many gear rental places outside of the Twin Cities, so if you are going on an adventure, check your area to see if there are rental options. 


Additionally, if you do decide you want to purchase outdoor gear, REI has their bi-annual ‘scratch and dent’ sale, and Repair Lair (mentioned above) has secondhand outdoor gear for sale.



Sustainable/Low Waste Restaurants

The thing about sustainability and eco-friendly living is that it looks different for everyone. There are so many moving components that it is hard to focus on ALL at once. There is buying organic food items, locally sourced (hard in this area during the cold months), composting, using renewable electricity, giving back to the community, and much more. The vast majority of the restaurants I found were no exception. There were very few that focused on ALL the things. Therefore, this list contains restaurants that focused on at least one component of living eco-friendly (and they may do more but don’t advertise it). That way, you can pick and choose what is most important to YOU in terms of what you want to support, instead of me deciding for you by curating the list a certain way. I would encourage you to use this list to do research on what sustainability pieces are most important to you, and support the companies that do them. 

It is broken up my Minneapolis, St. Paul, and ‘Other’ areas. Also note that this is simply restaurants- I have coffee shops and bakeries listed below. Finally, I pulled out exclusive vegetarian/vegan restaurants below as well. 

Minneapolis

St. Paul

Other



Vegetarian/Vegan/Plant Based Friendly Restaurants

These restaurants are exclusively vegetarian, vegan, and/or plant-based.



Breweries/Wineries/Spirits

If you live in the Twin Cities, you know there is no shortage of local craft beer. The cool thing I found about a lot of the breweries is that many of them give back either through a ton of community donations and work, and/or through sustainable practices. As with the restaurants, I would encourage you to use this list to do research on what sustainability pieces are most important to you, and support the companies that do them. 

I listed breweries outside of the Twin Cities because many of them have beer for sale at local liquor stores. 


Coffee Shops

  • GroundsWell – St. Paul
  • Honey and Rye – Minneapolis. Women owned. I love all of their pastries, egg sandwiches, and bread. Their coffee is delicious as well, AND, they make their own syrups. Additionally, they partner with a lot of local companies. They also offer compostable to-go cups for HOT beverages, but I usually bring my own. I’ve never had an issue with them not wanting to fill it up. 
  • Sparrow Cafe – Minneapolis. 


Bakeries

You know the drill. The bakeries all have at least component of sustainability (local ingredients, community involvement, organic ingredients, plant-based offerings, etc). I would encourage you to use this list to do research on what sustainability pieces are most important to you, and support the companies that do them. 

  • Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe – Minneapolis & Edina. The website is vague on the sustainability of their ingredients, but they do have a decent selection of vegan desserts. 
  • Angel Food – Minneapolis (vegan options available) 
  • Butter Bakery Cafe – Minneapolis
  • Crepe and Spoon – Minneapolis 
  • Delceria Bakery – Minneapolis. The website is vague on the sustainability of their ingredients, but it is an immigrant, women of color owned bakery and offers lots of vegan options. 
  • French Meadow – Minneapolis & St. Paul (vegan options available) 
  • Honey and Rye – Minneapolis 
  • Hope’s Vegan Kitchen – Varies 
  • Glam Doll Donuts – Minneapolis. The website is vague on the sustainability of their ingredients, but they do have a decent selection of vegan donuts. They also provide compost bins in shop.
  • Muddy Paws Cheesecake – St. Louis Park (vegan options available)
    Salty Tart – St. Paul
  • Sift Gluten Free – Minneapolis. The website is vague on the sustainability of their ingredients, but they do have a decent selection of vegan desserts. 
  • The Buttered Tin – St. Paul
  • Totally Baked Donuts – Varies. Gluten free and vegan donuts. These are GOOD.
  • Vegan East – White Bear Lake & Minneapolis 



Vegan / Plant Based Ice Cream

Most of these places have a mix of vegan/plant based ice cream and dairy offerings. However, I only included places that had a decent selection of vegan/plant based selections, versus the normal one or two. 



Sustainable Food/Low Waste Catering

Throwing a party? Hosting an event at work? Check out this list of sustainable and/or low waste catering companies. 


Got a resource to add? Let me know in the comments or contact me via email or social media. What is one of your favorite places on the list?


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Clare
Guest

Seriously so helpful! What a great guide!

Ashley Orfe
Guest

Wow this is such a great resource! Thanks for putting it all together!