Buying in Bulk: A Simple Way to Reduce Waste
Much of the waste generated in the average home results from our love of individual packaging, single serving cups and pouches, and other convenience packaging. By purchasing frequently used household and food items in bulk, you can really reduce the amount of packaging you are both using and throwing away.
To get started with buying in bulk, you will first need to purchase some reusable plastic containers with tight-sealing lids. These can be found at most large retailers and also at specialty stores. You will need a variety of sizes based on what types of products you plan to store. Then of course, you'll have to find a bulk foods store. Many grocery stores have a bulk foods section, some larger than others. There are also stores that specialize in bulk foods, and you might find a greater selection there.
Kitchen basics such as sugar and flour can be purchased at bulk foods stores and stored in airtight plastic tubs. You can also store other dry goods such as pasta, and rice this way. Consider asking the store if you can bring your containers and fill them directly. Some places will do this by using their scale to zero out the weight of the container prior to filling to determine the weight of the product for purchase. This reduces waste even further by not requiring a plastic bag to bring your purchases home. Other foods you can buy in bulk include nuts, raisins and other dried fruits, cereals, coffee and tea, and snacks like popcorn kernels and pretzels. Anything with a long shelf life can be bought in bulk. Just make sure you have the space to store all your bulk purchases!
These days, bulk buying often makes us think of giant warehouse stores such as Costco. While buying in bulk from stores like this is often cost-effective, it's not always the best choice for the environment. Large packages of products are often way packaged multiple times, into single packages, then into a larger package. There can be a lot of waste from this type of packaging, so keep an eye out for good deals that are also green deals. There are still plenty of good for the earth and for the wallet deals to be found here for the thoughtful and conscientious shopper however! As long as each item is not individually packaged inside, buying in bulk with more items to a single package prevents waste. And because these stores don't offer shopping bags, but reuse cardboard boxes to carry your items out to the car, which can later be reused again or recycled.
Buying in bulk is an easy way to help reduce wasteful packaging and also save you money. In fact, you will find yourself using the three R's of environmentally friendly living: Reduce the amount of packaging on items you purchase regularly. Reuse the plastic containers for foods purchased in large quantities. And finally, you can recycle the cardboard boxes from large bulk stores as well as other packaging. Think of it as saving the earth one giant bag of flour at a time.