My whole life I never really understood why shopping in the bulk section was necessary, but now I realize it’s to reduce all the extra packaging waste! Plus, did you know the price is better when you buy from the bulk section? Somebody has to pay for all that extra branding, right? You can find SUCH a wide selection in the bulk section, and so many organic options too. Quinoa, cereal, granola, pasta, rice, seeds, even things like chocolate chips and dates.
So next time you go food shopping, pay attention to how much unnecessary packaging waste comes along with a typical trip to the supermarket. I’ve seen individual fruits and vegetables placed on styrofoam trays and wrapped in plastic wrap…… WHY?!?!?!? (And not even diced up for convenience!) Since it turns out only about 9% of plastics that are placed in the recycling actually get recycled, our best bet is to limit our plastic use to begin with. While the supermarket can easily be an eco-nightmare, I’m sharing my tips on how to make your next trip as eco as possible!
1. Do some research.
Get familiar with what supermarkets in your area offer an extensive bulk section. For me, it’s Whole Foods. It varies by store, but mine has a GREAT bulk section with everything that I could need & more. Many other health supermarket chains, aside from Whole foods, have great bulk shopping too. I suggest plugging your zip code into this site here: https://zerowastehome.com/app/ and it will let you know which stores by you offer a bulk section.
2. Invest in some reusable produce bags.
Plastic produce bags are so easily avoided by ordering some reusable bags (made from organic cotton!) on Amazon. It’s become habit for us to reach for a produce bag and throw our fruits and veggie inside, but have we ever stopped to think why we even do this? Let’s be real: whatever our produce has been through to get to the supermarket shelf is WAY worse than what’s going to happen while it’s in our shopping cart. We wash our produce when we get home anyway, right? And most fruit and veggies come in it’s own natural packaging 🙂 (Bananas, mangoes, pineapple, onion, etc.!) I usually end up placing my produce loose in the cart & using my reusable bags to fill up in the bulk section. I suggest getting these for larger items and these for smaller items like seeds, nuts, and rice. Here’s the best part: you’ll be inspiring others to do the same just by using these on your next trip! I’ve been asked countless times “where did you get those cute little bags?!”
3. Make sure your reusable containers are labeled with the “tare” weight.
The “tare” weight is just the weight of the container that the cashier has to deduct while weighing your items so that you’re not overcharged. If you end up getting either of the reusable bags that I linked above (here and here) they conveniently already come with the tare weight listed on the tags! However if you bring your own bags or mason jars, you’ll have to go up to customer service beforehand and kindly ask them to tare the weight of your jar before you fill it. (I’ve never had an issue with this request, they are always happy to accommodate!)
4. Don’t forget the codes of the items that you choose.
As I’m filling up in the bulk section, I usually take a picture of the SKU label for each item that I choose. The cashier will need to know the SKU for each item to properly ring you up, so taking a picture of it on my phone always ensures an easy and seamless checkout process (and the cashiers are always very thankful that they don’t have to go searching for a million SKUs!)
5. Keep your eye out for package-free produce.
Sometimes I’ll notice a bag full of carrots for once price, and a box full of loose carrots RIGHT next to them for cheaper! It’s interesting how our minds and buying habits are so conditioned to be attracted to branding and convenience. Keep an eye out for the produce options that come package-less and stick with those. My supermarket usually has a great selection of mushrooms, herbs, carrots, squash, etc. all sans packaging. The only thing that is hard for me to find package-free is berries!
6. Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags!
Plastic bags are just about the most unnecessary convenience that has graced our planet, so please be sure to say NO to plastic bags at checkout! Most supermarkets even give you a discount for each reusable bag that you bring, how bout that! Saving the planet and saving your money!
Great articles about recycling to check out:
The documentary that changed my view on plastic forever: http://plasticparadisemovie.com
Lots of vegan & eco love,
Affiliate Notes: This piece is in no way sponsored and I was not asked by any of these companies to feature them. However, there are affiliate links throughout. This means that if you end up making a purchase, a small referral commission will flow through to me. Read my full promise to you here.