Why shop in bulk? Well, what is a great way to reduce plastic and waste in our every day life? Buying food!
According to the EPA, containers and packaging account for 23 percent of all landfill waste. Around 12 percent (13 million tons) of this consists of plastic. As we know, plastic packaging tends to find its way into waterways which poses a serious threat to the world’s marine life … and frankly, us too. Around 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface is plastic. Plastic is petroleum-based and when it begins to breakdown, it leaches toxic chemicals, endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins into the environment. This can cause reproductive problems along with a host of other issues for marine species, not to mention these chemicals are often fat soluble so when humans eat seafood, they are also ingesting these harmful chemicals.
In a similar manner, these chemicals can also leach into the foods that we store in plastic containers. Phthalates, BPA, and a number of other endocrine disrupting chemicals that show up in plastics have been shown to pose significant risk to human health. The less plastic you use, especially for things you ingest, the better!
The average American throws away 185 pounds of plastic every year, so if we want to limit the amount of toxins we are releasing into the environment, minimizing plastic packaging waste while at the grocery store is a great place to start.
Today I went with my mom to Sprouts Super Market to shop in bulk. When you think about it, it may seem pretty simple, you just bring your own jar and fill it up right? Well it’s actually a little confusing, but that is why I am making a blog post about it, to help you understand how to do it easily! There are 5 simple steps to shopping in bulk. Just think, if everyone shopped like this, there would be so much less plastic in the ocean, it would actually make a big difference, and theres only 5 steps!!! Ok, so, here’s how to do it…
1. At home, try to find some clean, empty jars, and if possible, bring produce bags. Not everyone has produce bags, but if you want to buy some you can go on Amazon – some stores have them for sale in the produce department! And if you can’t find any empty jars, most of the time stores with bulk aisles will have jars for you to buy and and fill up automatically. (But it’s a good way of reusing jars from old stuff that would otherwise be thrown away!) Here is an example of reusable produce bags on Amazon.
2. Go to a store that you know has bulk aisles to shop at. Whole foods has some bulk aisles, if you cannot find anywhere else in your neighborhood that has bulk shopping, I suggest you can go there. But not all Whole Foods allow you to bring your own containers. But if you have a Sprouts near you, I suggest going there. If you don’t know of any bulk food stores near you, click this link to find every store near you!
3. You need to “tare” your containers. “Tare” means writing down the amount the container weighs when it is empty. This way, when you fill it up with food, the cashier will subtract the tare from the amount the container weighs with the food in it, so you only pay for how much the food weighs. To find the tare of your container, look for a scale near the bulk section, and place your empty container on, with the lid. Make sure you bring a pen, (I suggest grease pencils) to write on the jar how much it weighs. If you didn’t bring a pen, you can always make a note on your phone.
4. Fill up your containers with food. Make sure you write down the PLU (price look-up) number on the jar with a pen, witch is different for each item of food. It should be printed out next to the label of the food. The PLU tells the cashier what is in the jar.
5. Pay for your food at the check out! Congrats, you just shopped in bulk! Pretty simple, right? May be a little confusing, but if you keep doing it (hopefully you will?) you will get the hang of it.
I hope this was informational to you! 😁