How To Reduce Plastic Waste By Shopping In Bulk

Does buying food in bulk save money?

Buying in bulk a.k.a loose product has tons of benefit, it not only saves you money, but you will be eating healthier produce which will improve your overall health, plus it also has a huge environmental impact in reducing sending single use plastics to the landfill.

Bulk buying is not only the economical way but also responsible way of shopping. And Bulk buyers tends to keep it local supporting the local community.

Let's compare apples to apples, let's say you buy a pack (1lbs) of long-grain rice online or at a grocery store. 

Grocery Store Item  Grocery Store price/unit Bulk price/unit
Long Grain Rice $4.49 $2.99


If you use a pack of rice every week, then it is $17.96/month and $233.48/year. That is 52 package of rice packaged in single use plastic that ends up in a landfill. 

If you buy in bulk, 1lbs would cost you $2.99, and you also buy by weight. Logistic wise, your carbon footprint went down. When you buy in bulk there is no packaging, and no food wasted and no package ends in a landfill, because consumers buy only what they need in their own container and reusable bags. This also gives flexibility to decide how much you want to buy as opposed to packaged goods unit quantity determined by the manufacturer.

Best foods to buy in bulk to save money

Majority of the grocery stores carry a variety of scoop-your-own bulk options listed below:
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Cereals and Oatmeal
  • Granolas
  • Nuts (Nuts goes bad after 6 months, so buy only what you need)
  • Dried Fruit
  • Snacks
  • Candy (Candy goes bad relatively quickly, so just buy what you need)
  • Spices ( Spices also has short lifespan before it goes bad, so just buy 3 month supply)
  • Broths
  • Powered Soy Milk
  • Honey
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Beans
  • Brown Rice (Brown Rice goes bad after 6 months, so buy only what you need)
  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Granola
  • Oil (Oil goes bad after 6 months, so buy only what you need))

  • If buying lose items is not your thing then you can also cut down on packaging waste by buying pre-packaged food that comes in super-sized bags, bottles, cans and boxes.

    Bulk-buying isn’t limited to food 

    Many everyday toiletries products come in a super-sized containers — shampoo, cleaning supplies, auto supplies, underwear, and toilet paper are all examples of products that come in bulk.

    How to Buy in Bulk

    • Grab your own produce bags, mason jars and tote bags and head over to your neighborhood grocery store.
    • Get the tare weight (empty weight) of your container to avoid paying for the container weight. Bring a permanent marker to note the weight of the container so that you don't have to weigh it every time you go grocery shopping.
    • Fill up the bulk item, and take a picture of the label on the bulk bin to avoid printing out a sticker for each item.
    • Head to the checkout and provide the label info to the cashier.

    Where Can I Buy in Bulk?

    Let's take a look at what can be bought, and where:

    Fruit and vegetables

    Many major super market sells fruits and vegetables by weight. Make sure to use your produce bags. Or, if you enjoy going to the farmers market on the weekend, you can get fresh produce from the farmers market. By shopping at farmers market, you are encouraging local trade and farming, plus your carbon footprint is minimum. 

    The other option is to buy local farms produce by signing up for Community Supported Agriculture boxes. You. can get fresh produce delivered on the interval of your choice or some requires you pick up from designated location.

    Cereals, pasta and pulses
    These are usually sold packaged in supermarkets. To buy them loose, buy online at sellers like The Wally Shop or try a neighborhood store. If you live in New York City give 4th Street Food Co-op a try.

    Meat, fish and sausages
    You can buy these in loose at your general super market or find a butchers, fishmongers and delicatessens market.

    Bread and baked goods
    Instead of buying pre-processed baked goods at the super market. Head to the bakery section and buy loose, more and more super market are doing it. Or, find a local neighborhood bakeries and cake shops that sell these products loose.

    What Should I Not Buy in Bulk?

    You should not buy produce such as Fruits and Vegetables in bulk: Buy only what you need as produce tends to go bad after several days. The same goes for bread: Buy only what you need. Milk tends to go bad relatively quickly so avoid buying dairy products in bulk except cheese, which can be kept for long periods of time. Furthermore, if the cheese hardens as it drys, it still can used for cooking, and often has an improved flavor profile (think Parmesan). 

    What About Buying Meat in Bulk?

    It is ok to buy 6 month supply of meat in bulk, but ensure to freeze the meat in the freezer. Meat does lose its savory over time though. Although we support all people of all dietary preferences, we would like to point out that meat production is associated with some of the highest of carbon footprints that can be tracked. 

    So Does Buying in Bulk Really Save You Money?

    By buying in bulk, you definitely save money because you are not paying for the packaging. Furthermore, you are buying by weight and you will only be buying what you need. The other advantages include: reduction of necessary visits to your local grocer; purchase of only what you actually need (resulting in reduction of food waste); and, you will be consuming higher quality food, which will contribute to an increased nutritional status.

    In the beginning, there are challenges to finding a bulk supplier that fits your specific needs. However, once you find the right marketplaces for you, sourcing of the healthy items you incorporate into your regular home cooking regimen will become a second thought. We recommend pursuing a wide range of marketplaces that offer plastic free means for consumption, including: local markets that offer bulk purchase and allow you to utilize your own produce containers as well as farmers' markets. At Kaylaan, we personally prefer grocers that specialize in bulk grains and farmers' markets where you can purchase directly from organic farms. 

    Once you become an expert at navigating the bulk and local produce market lifestyle, you will be able to plan safe food gathering as a fun family expedition. In our personal experience, farmers' markets are especially satisfying as an entertaining shopping practice. Regardless of what you choose as your bulk, natural, and organic preference, remember to take your own re-useable bags!