The Bulk is Green (BIG) Council e-mailed to ask if I would write about the benefits of buying bulk natural foods. I immediately said yes, because buying bulk food makes sense to me. My earliest exercise in being “green” was shopping at the funky and wonderful Glut Food Co-op near Washington, D.C. I was single then and had time on my hands to negotiate the store’s small aisles and wait my turn at the bulk bins.
After I married, became a mom, and moved to Maryland in the ninties, I started shopping at supermarkets. I had less time to wait and longed for wider shopping aisle to zip through. I didn’t entirely abandon my commitment to being green in this way.
Why Buy Bulk Natural Foods?
To reduce packaging and food waste:
Who can recycle every single empty plastic container? Avoiding a collection of empty plastic and glass containers is easy when you buy in bulk. You will also tend to buy only what you and your family need, so you’ll save money and waste less food as well.
To have greater food selection:
If food variety means anything to you, then you’ll want to buy bulk. I discovered black quinoa and Christmas beans in the big bins, and I’m constantly tempted by new granola combinations. Mother Earth News said it best: “Once staid and predictable, [the bulk food aisle] are now multi-faceted, featuring simultaneously the basic, the exotic, and the unusual.”
To get really cheap herbs & spices:
According to DailyFinance.com, packaged spices are among the biggest mark-up items in the supermarket. The markup was 97% in 2011 –so it’s even higher now. Why pay upwards of $4.50 for a jar of bay leaves when you can get the same quantity without the jar for just a few cents? Besides, you can recycle small bottles or even buy a set and refill the jars with spices as needed.
To waste less food:
When you buy bulk natural foods, you scoop your own quantity. Some stores will even allow you to fill your own container, subtracting the weight of the container at checkout. I love shopping at wholesale stores, but the quantity is often too much for my family of three. There are no such restrictions when you buy bulk.
Learn more about reducing a dependence on packaged food and other items. The BIG Council’s helpful website provides a helpful infographic and a link for taking the pledge to buy for bulk natural foods. Happy Earth Day!
Let’s talk: Have you every shopped for bulk food? What’s the benefit to you and your family?