How to Shop in Bulk

Why Shop in Bulk?

When I first started living low waste, I thought shopping in bulk was the single most important thing to do to eliminate trash. The great thing is- it isn't! If you look around you, there is sooooo much waste to eliminate. Our modern world uses so many disposable items. It is overwhelming to think of the amount of trash we make everyday, but just think of it like this- you have so many different places to start! I started with my to go items, then went to my bathroom, etc. So don't feel like you have to shop in bulk now to start lowering your waste.

Picture: Simply_Living_Well

I live in Arkadelphia, Arkansas which is about an hour drive from Little Rock. Little Rock has the closet bulk store, so I don't go a lot at ALL. My plan for bulk shopping while I still live in Arkadelphia is to go to Whole Foods once a month. That's when I get my peanut butter, sugar, quinoa, rice, and syrup for my lattes. These products come package free besides the syrup that I buy in glass. My point is, most of the time I shop at a normal grocery store because I live so far away from bulk stores. When I'm in central Arkansas visiting my parents or something, this is when I plan to shop in bulk.

When I grocery shop in Arkadelphia, I try my best to buy foods in glass and cardboard when possible. There are more options than I thought, but most of my plastic packaging cannot be avoided. This journey is all about progress, not perfection. So I'm always working to find more sustainable options, but for my current living situation, it's basically impossible to avoid plastic food packaging.

But here are some reasons to shop in Bulk:

I've wasted a lot of food in my life, but the great thing about shopping in bulk is that you get the amount you want, instead of the fixed amount that comes in the package. The best part is that I left the grocery store with no packaging. NONE. By bringing my own jars and bags I eliminated the need for any type of trash. I never would've thought that was possible 8 months ago! So in my sustainable journey, shopping in bulk has changed the game. I get the amount of food I want and eliminate any need for packaging in the process.

Where to go:

Don't know where to shop in bulk? use Zero Waste Home's bulk finder to find the closet store near you. For Arkansas friends, There is bulk shopping in Little Rock, Fayetteville, and Jonesboro.

Prepping before you leave:

1. Make a list

It is important to have an idea of what you're shopping for so you know what jars or bags you need.

2. Prepare jars / bags accordingly

I had some extra jars in my car just in case, but have an idea of what you're trying to buy so you can be prepared with enough jars and bags. A lot of people bring cloth bags to the store to buy in bulk and then transfer their product to glass jars when they get home. Just whatever works best for you! My jar collection comes from old glass packaging like Salsa and Pesto, from my mom's house, and from Wal Mart.

3. Don't forget conservation bags!

At the store:

1. Weigh your empty jar

This is the tare of your jar so your store clerk can subtract the weight of your jar from the weight of your product. You don't want to accidentally pay for the weight of your jar as well!

2. Write tare (weight) on jar in marker

I write mine on the metal lid. Marker washes off easily on the lid and on the glass. I used a black sharpie and it washed off easy!

3. Fill jar with product

4. Write bulk serial number and label your jar!

At Whole Foods, there's a little sticker that you place on your jar. You write the bulk bin number on the jar, and then for my sake, I write what is in the jar. The bulk bin number is for the employee and labeling the product is so I don't get confused when I get home!

When you get home make sure your products are in air tight containers (if you bring cloth bags, make sure to transfer products to glass jars, plastic Tupperware, etc). This will keep your products fresh. I also keep the jars labeled so I never get confused about what is in what container. For example, my spices can get confusing quickly, so labeling them always helps!

For those who are beginners, don't be scared to try it! This was my first time shopping in bulk and it is actually simple. It is an amazing way to reduce so much waste and is a great way to reduce food waste as well. If you have any questions, post them on my comment section of this blog picture on Instagram! And if you have any tips for others and myself, comment them as well :)

Jessica Kooiman

Impact for Good


Impact For Good