How to do bulk shopping
You´ve never heard about a bulk store or a plastic free or zero waste shop?
These are shops where you can get your food and other things unpacked and plastic free and in bulk. You bring your own bags and containers, or they mostly offer paper bags for dry ingredients if you forget to bring your own.
I always reuse my paper bags when I needed to take some because I forgot to bring my own. (They offer paper bags if it’s a real Zero Waste Store, normal Bulk Stores offer plastic bags mostly).
You will find them in more and more cities because the plastic free community is growing quickly.
Bulk Stores are quite usual in North America, but here it´s not about avoiding plastic, its about buying the quantity you need.
They also have bulk options in normal supermarkets. But you will mostly only find plastic bags to fill your goods, but I had no problems with bringing/using my own bags.
They mostly just won’t/can’t subtract the weigh of your bags (either they don’t know how, or the scale at check out is not made for that?).
That’s why I only use my lightest bags for bulk shopping in normal supermarkets. If you like to get something from the deli/salad bar you should bring a lightweight plastic container, or just reuse the ones they have in the supermarket. Because they can’t/won’t subtract the weight from your container or even don’t allow private container.
If you haven`t been to a bulk store you should always ask the staff how they are operating.
Sometimes you weigh your jars and bags yourself, sometimes the staff is doing so.
Some shops sell liquids in ml, others in gram.
The first time I didn´t really know how to buy soap or oil in my own container. Nuts and flour etc has been easy. If you have your own bags, just fill them in your bags (or in the provided paper bags) and they just weigh it a the check out.
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4 Steps for a successful Bulk Shopping:
- Pack your bag: take clean reusable bags**, mesh produce bags** or jars** with you.
- Weigh your container, bags and jars yourself, or let the cashier weigh it (it depends on the store if you weigh them yourself or not). Write the weight on the item.
- Then fill the bags and jars with whatever you want and need. Remember what you are taking or write it down so that the cashier knows what you got there. Make sure not to touch food with your hand and take care that your bag won’t hang inside or lay on the food when scooping it out of the container. We want to buy bulk in the future so we need to work and refill clean so that more and more shops allow us to bring our own bags and container!
- At the checkout, the cashier will weigh the produce and subtract the weight from the jar/container.
Don’t forget to check my video on youtube about how to do bulk shopping:
Is bulk shopping always cheaper?
It depends on what kind of prices you compare! I hear many people complaining that it is not true that bulk shopping in zero waste stores is cheaper. But actually it is if you compare them with other organic products. These are mostly cheaper in bulk, only organic products on discount sales in supermarkets are sometimes cheaper.
You really shouldn’t compare conventional product prices from supermarkets or discounter with bulk prices from zero waste stores.
The Zero Waste Stores mostly sell only organic products, these are always a little more expensive than conventional (sadly, but they will get cheaper in the future if more and more people buy and ask for organic: supply and demand).
So make sure to compare organic prices with zero waste bulk prices. Or compare conventional packaged products with conventional bulk and you will see the unpackaged products are cheaper.
Have you tried bulk shopping yet? If no, what’s the reason?
If yes where do you live and feel free to tell us more about the zero waste or bulk store to spread the word!
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