Environmental Fridays

With the commencement of a New Year, this is about the time of year for self-evaluation and creating new routines. Although I commend the recurring fitness goals, I propose a greener focus this year: that you consider cutting back on your waste. 

As we explored in a previous article that you can find here, our planet is undergoing a very serious plastic pollution crisis and there are several easy solutions you can implement every day to combat this. 

I’d like to present a secretly super easy way to cut back on plastic waste because I think you’re ready for the step up: bulk shopping! I have found that there tends to be a lot of confusion surrounding this particular subject, but I will break it down for you. 

Bulk shopping gives the impression of purchasing ridiculously large portions of food for discounted prices, and some people just assume it’s only practical for large families. Although that can be true, buying food in the bulk section can consist of however much food you want! I’m talking about the kind of bulk food that’s available in a giant bin, completely package free, that you can transfer into a smaller container.

There’s almost always a bulk section in natural food stores like Whole Foods, our very own Good Foods Co-op and even Kroger. The bulk section is usually set up with some plastic bags and containers with directions for labeling your containers for weighing and pricing when you check out. 

This is where I might lose people, because it gets a tiny bit more complicated than just buying the packaged stuff, but I implore you to stick with me. It’s really not as complicated as it sounds, and it’s totally worth it.

Steps to purchasing package-free food:

1. Instead of using the provided plastic bags and containers to fill with food, you can bring your own jars or containers. This is the beauty of it all. No packaging for your food! 

2. Any jars or containers will have to be weighed ahead of time, which the cashier will happily do for you. I always bring a sharpie with me to record the weight directly on my jar. 

3. Then you’re all set to fill your containers with whatever you want! There’s usually everything from snack mixes to flours. Sometimes there’s even a cosmetic section where you can get ingredients for beauty products like castile soap, witch hazel and beeswax (Good Foods Co-op is the best place for this).

4. After you fill a container, make sure to record the PLU (price look up) number listed on the label of a food. This is how the cashier will be able to look up the food you chose and charge you properly for the weight.

As added bonuses of this New Years goal, should you embark upon it, there are health benefits! If one of your preset resolutions is related to fitness or health, you can aim to make lots of homemade meals from-scratch this year with the ingredients you get in the bulk section. It means better health for your body in addition to better health for the planet.