Why Buy Bulk?

By Reeva Ripley, Bulk Buyer, Frozen Buyer, Co-op Owner

Help save money and the environment one purchase at a time!

In a world where people are becoming more ecologically aware, many of us are looking to minimize our effect on the environment. Making purchases in the bulk aisle enables folks to reduce both discarded packaging and food waste. It also provides us the opportunity to reuse containers rather than throwing out the packaging with each food purchase, which liberates the public from a heavy dependence on recycling. There are many benefits to purchasing foods in bulk – it offers an affordable way to eat organic while avoiding excessive packaging and reduces food waste by allowing us to purchase as much or as little of a product as we need.

We have dozens of bulk items available at the Co-op.

We have dozens of bulk items available at the Co-op.

Portland State University, on behalf of the Bulk Is Green council, conducted research to see how much consumers can save by shopping from bulk. They found that people can save a staggering 89% on their food purchase by filling up their own containers with bulk goods. Though most bulk purchases can save you money over their packaged counterpart, it is always a good idea to do price comparisons before committing to a purchase. Here at GreenTree we have the price per ounce listed on our bulk tags, taking some of the math out of your quest for the best prices. To figure out the price per ounce on packaged goods, simply divide the price by the package size for easy comparison shopping.

Aside from the savings of purchasing food from bulk, it’s possible to interact more directly with food before purchasing, so you can experience the smells, textures and tastes of the product. The majority of the foods found in the bulk aisle are in their whole forms, offering optimal nutrients. Purchasing whole foods allows you create custom-made bean burgers, blend your own seasoning packets for fajitas, or get just the right amount of quinoa for the recipe you are testing out, with the added benefit of knowing all the ingredients making up your meal. Even when shopping for the pre-made products, such as granola, trail mixes, or confections, there are often local or organic offerings.

You can get peanut butter, almond butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and more in our bulk department!

You can get peanut butter, almond butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and more in our bulk department!

We know that purchasing bulk foods assists in the reduction of food and packaging waste, but by how much? According to reports from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), discarded foods account for 21% of municipal waste. This means on average nearly a quarter of the waste from towns and cities comes from unused or spoiled food, YIKES! Simple ways to avoid wasting food include buying only what you need for specific meals, and making up weekly or monthly menus to ensure you are purchasing the right items. Getting the exact amount you want is where the bulk aisle shines. Only need a cup of rice? Come to GreenTree with a container and you will leave with exactly a cup of rice. On the other hand, if you need 25 pounds of chickpeas with minimal packaging, come to GreenTree and we’ll order a whole bag just for you!

Even more startling than the percentage of food waste is how much retail and shipping packaging contributes to the overall waste in our landfills. As of 2010 the EPA estimated 47% of municipal waste comes from plastics, cardboard/paper, glass, and metal. Nearly half of the waste produced annually come from storing or shipping products. Food packaging alone contributes 23% of the waste found in American landfills, which is approximately 39 million pounds of discarded packaging! Shopping from bulk gives us the opportunity to re-use containers, keeping both old and new packaging from entering the waste stream. (Tip: Have a cashier weigh and mark your container before filling it, so the price reflects only the weight of the product being purchased.)

Take a little extra time to prepare for a shopping trip, and you can find great value in the bulk aisle. Not only can you save money buying from bulk and comparing prices, but you can reduce waste and re-use containers which would sit in a landfill at the same time. You can check out the bulk products we offer here. Plan ahead, save money, and help save the environment too!

For more information:

EPA Reducing Food Waste Tool
Portland University Bulk Foods Study

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