Food packaging was once my main source of waste. After discovering bulk food stores I’ve learned that with a little bit of preparation, packaging is easily avoidable. Many people think they don’t live near bulk food stores, and once upon a time I would have thought the exact same thing, but it wasn’t until I started looking that I discovered bulk food is everywhere.

This aspect of waste reduction takes balls, because it is for the most part still a little unusual. Have conviction, and be pleasant. It will seem weird at first, especially after supermarket shopping, but after a while you’ll start thinking supermarket shopping is weird.

You will need:

Jars: I love my mason jars as they are sturdy, leak-proof, and multipurpose. Try using what’s already around the house, or buying from a second-hand store. If possible have repeats of the same jar- this will save time at the checkout.

Light weight cloth bags: These are great for when jars don’t fit under the bulk food dispensers, or if I want a lot of something like pasta, rice or oats.

Shopping bag or basket: good for transporting jars, but also prevents the need for the “fugly” single use plastic bags. Again use what’s already around the house, but if you need more, boomerang bags are an awesome brand to support; they are a not for profit community group using upcycled material to create reusable bags.

A dark marker: to write the weight and product number on jars; I always forget to bring this, fortunately most bulk food stores will already have this available.

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My shopping bag, mason jars, spice jars, and light weight cloth bags

Now, here’s what to do…
When you arrive at the bulk food store, bring your jars to the front counter and get them weighed, then write the weight on the jars. Fill your jar with the products you need, writing the product number on the jars as you go. Please don’t think that going without packaging means giving up your favourite foods, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Everything from honey, herbs, spices, and chocolate can be purchased in bulk. Bring the goods back to the counter for the cashier to subtract the jar’s weight from the products.

Always be pleasant, always be grateful. Refuse the receipt and be on your merry way to enjoying the following benefits:
Saving the world: by not creating plastic pollution and by reducing your carbon footprint
It looks better: Having a cupboard filled with jars containing real food is so pretty compared to over marketed packaged “food”.
Better value: Most bulk food stores have pricey luxury items (e.g. dried mango and gluten/vegan pasta), but if you’re after standard food (e.g. flour, legumes, nuts, cereals and peanut butter) then you’ll find much better value for money at bulk food stores.

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Saying yes to zero waste, and no to disposable plastic.