The pandemic has changed our habits and how we consume, dramatically.  Now, “Door Dashing” and “Instacarting” are a part of our normal repertoire for safety and convenience reasons.  In doing so, it cannot be ignore how some delivery services strip restaurants of profits, mark up our prices and underpay gig employees. There’s also the statistic that 90% of global plastic waste comes from food consumption, which has likely been stressed by the pandemic.

As such, many of us are more conscientious of our spending, wanting to support enterprises that prioritize sustainability and promote underserved founders.

Never one to sacrifice quality and convenience, I went in search of grocery delivery services that strive for value, environmentalism and support locals. 

Zero Grocery, delivering groceries with environmentalism and convenience in mind

Supermarkets are responsible for 10% of all U.S. food waste – that’s 43 billion pounds annually, according to Guardian. Zero Grocery aims to nip at the astronomical figure as the first plastic-free grocery delivery service, bringing you local and well-known brands at wholesale prices direct to your door in returnable jars and sustainable packaging. Zero Grocery even sells local bakery goods, beauty products and meat products all packaged in eco-friendly materials, left neatly at your doorstep.

Choose a monthly membership at $25 a month for lower prices on every item or shop ala carte, like I did. I picked up some locally made bread, bath bombs and chicken noodle soup, amongst other staple items.  From my research, for non-members, some of Zero’s prices are higher than those at my local supermarket, particularly some of the produce items. But the convenience of delivery, the broad range of unique items, sustainably-raised animal products and the ‘feel-good’ factor were enough to justify any premium. 

Zero Grocery is female, POC owned business, available in the Bay Area and recently launched in Los Angeles.

Check out Zero Grocery here

Dumpling, a personal shopping service that keeps more money in everyone’s pockets. Available nationwide

Instacart and other delivery services have a hidden formula to making money: they have a hidden markup in prices (set by stores, according to the company) and don’t pass along in-store specials or coupons. There is also controversy around gig worker pay and worker security, depriving you of that “feel good” factor when you order. 

Dumpling is changing that model with its personal shopping service. By signing up for the personal shopper site, you ensure in-store prices for all of your groceries. If you like your shopper, you can hire the same one for every order. Over time, the shopper comes to know your substitution preferences.  Many send photos and offer custom replacement suggestions. 

To use Dumpling, start by searching for a personal shopper in your zip code. Explore the profiles and services offered by the shoppers, many will pick up items at multiple stores, including pharmacies and pet stores.  Also transparent in each profile, their tip guidelines and the services fees charged, so you know exactly what you’re getting and where your money is going (whether to the store, shopper or Dumpling platform). 

Check out Dumpling here

Farmstead and Good Eggs, delivering green, lower cost groceries. Ideal for non-time sensitive deliveries. Bay Area only

Farmstead and its smart-buying AI technology reduces food waste to save you money. There are no delivery fees and membership costs because Farmstead delivers to you and your neighbors at the same time, which makes this an ideal app for items you need weekly, not urgently or same-day items. Each time you return with an order,  you get 5% off your favorite products.  The company is in the middle of tripling the size of its location, which will reduce current ETAs, which can be long. The company does not offer same-day deliveries at this time.

Good Eggs also operates conscientiously, using compostable packaging, maintaining strict standards for what it carries and working with suppliers with fair labor practices before stocking products. You can order produce, dry goods and even alcohol through the app.  The Good Egg meal kits, which are 70% local – and cook in under 30 minutes, are a great feature, as well. There are no fees on orders of $30 or more, though there is a flat 7.5% fee to fund labor costs and programs. Tipping is not required.

Notable mention: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, for great prices on organic, vegan and speciality items found at Whole Foods

The nation’s largest extreme value retailer, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, offers many items stocked at Whole Foods for half price.  Many vegan, organic, grass-fed options can also be found here at a price that would be double or triple that of other stores.

Check out Grocery Outlet here