How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee for thou savest me allll the money.
I love thee for thou savest the environment.
I love thee as I now have beautiful *almost* plastic-free cupboards that look like they are straight outta Pinterest.
Bulk buying has changed my life. When I first heard about it, it seemed much too intimidating and if I’m being real, TOO MUCH WORK. Plus, I was certain it would be more expensive. After careful consideration* I made my way to the least intimidating option, my local Bulk Barn. After some fumbling, and awkward conversations** I got it done. I purchased lentil pasta (bad choice, $$$ and just plain gross), some spices and hemp hearts. Despite the expensive pasta, I STILL spent less on those items than I would have at my chain grocer! I was shocked how much money I saved, and my next couple forays into bulk buying led me to have amazing conversations with people at the checkout as well as the customers standing in line. Who knew reusable produce bags were such a conversation starter?
So how do you get started?!
1. Get some reusable bags and some jars. You can use empty, clean jars from products you’ve used up or purchase them at a thrift store. I bought my produce bags on Amazon when I hadn’t yet fallen down the eco rabbit hole. I suggest sewing them (you can find a simple tutorial here) or supporting someone local through Etsy... like me.
2. Purchase a funnel. Trust me. It will save you from awkwardly yelling CLEANUP IN AISLE THREE and then shamefully running away.
3. Make sure it’s all clean and, most importantly, dry.
4. Ask the cashier to weigh (or tare) your jars and bags.
5. Fill em' up! Take a picture of the bin number, or type it in your phone.
6. Finally, pay for your purchases and bask in the glory of a job well done.
I honestly spend less money and have more time since bulk buying. Not having to recycle packaging or sent said packaging to landfill is so freeing, and I’m in and out of the store in less than 10 minutes.
I live in Kamloops, British Columbia, so I have created a list of stores where you can purchase bulk and package-free items, as well as their relative costs. If you live anywhere else click here for Litterless blog’s amazing directory. If you have something to add to my list, hit me up here.
(Note: They almost ALWAYS have a coupon available, so make sure you sign up for their online newsletter! You can also get 10% off on Wednesdays if you are a senior or a student.)
· Nutritional Yeast
· Non-wheat flours
· Hemp hearts
· Dried beans
· Flax and chia seeds
· Peanut butter (slightly more expensive than grocery stores)
· Coconut oil (slightly more expensive than Costco, but cheaper than grocery stores)
· Coffee beans (fair trade to boot!)
· Dried fruit (some is more expensive than grocery stores)
· Protein powder
· Psyllium husks (don’t know what these are? Check out this post and recipe https://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/ by My New Roots. It is truly life-changing.).
(Note: 5% family/student discount on Sundays and 5% seniors discount on Wednesdays and Thursdays.)
· Coffee beans (they even have a bulk local option!)
· Plastic-free produce
· Homemade dressings in glass jars
· Local milk in glass (which can be returned for deposit)
· Local soaps (not vegan)
· Vegan soaps made in Alberta
· Meat packages in butcher paper
Chop N’ Block
· Cheese and meat (bring your own container!)
Deli meat (bring your own container)
Buns, bread, bagels
NuLeaf Produce Market
Local, plastic-free produce
Local milk in glass
Dressings in glass
Local grains milled in house
Case lots for canning (come on, bring out your inner Laura Ingalls!)
4 Oaks Oil & Vinegar
Oil… and vinegar. You can bring back the bottles and they will reuse them.
(While a little far-flung out in Westsyde, this sustainable farm has lots of zero waste items and is venturing more into bulk)
And don’t forget… if you forget your produce bags and are afraid of your veggies getting too intimate, use a couple brown paper mushroom bags!
Take a picture on your next bulk trip and spread the word. As they say #bulkisbeautiful :)
Saving the world one *mason jar* at a time,
*Just kidding, I grabbed a couple jars and hoofed it to the store. Impulsive is my middle name, uncomfortable scenarios are my game.
**The staff weren’t used to people bringing in jars. It’s literally what the company is about, but apparently jars haven’t caught on here yet. There is a giant poster of a jar on the front window. But, you know, convenience still abounds.