There are so many beneficial reasons to buy in bulk, so this simple green practice is easy and rewarding to implement. Living an hour away from the nearest grocery store, buying our food and personal products in bulk is a necessity of mountain life. The survivalist in me does not feel comfortable unless my pantry is stocked with staple goods bought in bulk. Not only does buying in bulk make life more convenient by saving trips to the grocery store, it saves money and environmental resources as well. Bulk good prices are cheaper than individually packaged goods, and fewer trips to the store means less fossil fuel burned and more leisure time for you! The following five ideas will help you make the most of buying in bulk.
Don’t limit bulk purchases to food items only!
Buying shampoo, laundry soap, dish soap, toilet paper, etc. is also beneficial to the environment and your wallet. Even if an item is not available in bulk at your local co-op or health food store, buying the largest size possible will give you similar savings financially and environmentally.
Bring your own containers!
When buying from bulk bins, bring your own containers. You can weigh your jars before filling them, in order to subtract the tare weight from the total purchase weigh. In addition, you will always buy the right amount for your containers if you take them along with you to the bulk foods aisle. If you must use plastic bags, try reusing them several times before recycling them.
Start a buying club and share with friends!
You will save a lot more money if you buy your own bulk bags of staple goods, such as rice and flour, directly from a natural foods distributor. Fifteen years ago, we started a buying club with friends through Mountain People’s Warehouse, which would deliver goods once a month to a neighboring town. Several families would take turns picking up the buying club’s order, and we had great fun sharing bulk items we couldn’t use completely or afford alone. By combining our orders, we easily met the minimum required order amount of this natural foods distributor. Even if you don’t want to start a buying club, you can order your own bulk goods through your local health food store for a small price above wholesale.
Buy big amounts, save packaging!
The larger the quantity you buy, the less packaging is involved. Be wary, though, of large warehouse stores that simply sell you cases of prepackaged individual goods; this is not bulk buying! For example, Aveda reports that when you buy liter size bottles of shampoo, you can help prevent waste.
Aveda litres use 40% less plastic and cost 30% less than the equivalent product in regular size bottles. Larger sizes mean we have to produce, and ship, fewer bottles. This means we send out fewer trucks that emit CO2 — the primary cause of global warming — into the atmosphere.
Imagine how much would be saved by buying gallon jugs of shampoo!
Store your bulk items in gallon-sized glass jars!
The safety of plastics used in food storage is questionable, and glass mason jars offer a safe alternative. Many health food distributors also carry gallon glass jars that are perfect for storing bulk food. Many people also use food grade five-gallon buckets for home bulk food storage, but I prefer glass jars.
When you buy in bulk, you tend to eat healthier, as there are less packaged, processed foods on hand in the kitchen. Diving into your staples on a winter day is a great way to eat well and do a little bit to save the environment, too. Save money, time, and resources by following this simple tip.