What is a bulk store? Everything you need for zero waste shopping
As you move along on your plastic free journey, a trip to the local bulk store is a must. It’s great to bring reusable bags so you can avoid plastic bags – but what are you filling your reusable bags with? Traditional groceries are usually wrapped in plastic and cardboard. This is where bulk stores come into play.
What are bulk stores?
Bulk stores are stores where you purchase groceries by weight rather than in individual packages. By purchasing by weight, you can bring your own container and avoid the packaging that normally comes with the product. The bulk store itself gets shipments in large containers, which they can either keep, or transport the goods into the store’s bulk containers and give the shipment container back to the vendor.
Products you can find at the bulk store
Bulk stores carry food, snacks, and personal grooming products. These items typically include:
- Dried fruit
- Chocolate or yoghurt covered nuts, pretzels, and fruit
- Shampoo & conditioner
What to bring to a bulk store
To shop at the bulk store, you can bring your own jars and bags or use containers from the store. Since your aim is plastic free, you’ll want to be sure to bring your own jars as much as possible. You can use any jar you’ve got at home. Any empty, cleaned glass jars with lids, like from pasta sauce or jam will do. If you’re looking to purchase shampoo or conditioner, save an old shampoo bottle and clean it out to bring with. We recommend bringing your own bags and net bags as well. There are reusable bags for produce and for bulk bin items, like these. For an in-depth guide on reusable bags, be sure to check out our blog post on the subject.
What to expect at a bulk store
Your first visit to the bulk store can be a bit stressful if you don’t know what to expect. No need – We’ve got everything you need to know.
- You’ll need to know the weight of your containers. This is called the tare weight. Since you pay based on the weight – typically grams, kilograms, or litres – you must first know the weight of your empty container. If you don’t have a scale at home, most bulk stores will weigh it for you. Just stop by the register before starting your shopping. Be sure to write the weight on your jar, bag, or container with a marker.
- Fill up your containers. Bulk stores will have a scoop assigned to each bin. You don’t have to fill your container to the top – just take as much as you want.
- When checking out, the cashier will weigh your full container, then subtract the tare weight of the container from the total weight. This weight will then be multiplied by the price of the product per gram (or kilo, etc).
Bulk stores are popping up all over the place. If you don’t have a bulk-only store near you, don’t fret. More and more supermarkets are including bulk sections and aisles as an option. We believe that bulk stores are the way of the future!
Now I’d love to hear from you! What’s been your experience shopping at a bulk store? If it is your first time – do you have any further questions? Let me know in the comment section below.