Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day Sixty-One - Size Really Does Matter

Buying in Bulk

Did you know that packaging makes up 30% of municipal solid waste? I believe it too, because I've been separating and recycling EVERYTHING that is locally recyclable, giving up disposable diapers and keeping my food scraps separate. All this effort has brought me down from one trash bag a day to one bag a week -- and it is virtually all packaging. Potato chip bags, yogurt containers, and those impossible-to-open plastic packages that house everything from scissors to mascara.

In an effort to reduce all this waste, I am going to try to buy as many food and grocery item in bulk as I can. Here's how:

Although I love my local Kroger store, they are sorely lacking the bulk bins. However, our Ukrops does sport these bins and I will be frequenting them more often. They have a nice assortment of snack items for the kids. Did you know you can take in your own containers to put those bulk products into? Grab some of those large, sturdy Ziplocks (I know, normally I don't like Ziplocks, but they're very light-weight, can be easily carried into the store and you can write on them to identify the product and use them over and over each week) and load up, baby!

I'm also going to look into getting a Costco membership. Word on the street is that they have TONS of jumbo-sized packages of all sorts of grocery items. I haven't been to a bulk store in years, but I'm actually excited to head on down and check it out. The down side is that I'm betting that they won't stock a lot of my new favorites like recycled toilet paper and eco-friendly laundry detergent.

Of course, just using common sense in the grocery store goes a long way too. If I'm picking up a bottle of ketchup and there's a choice between a 16 oz bottle and a 32 oz bottle. Duh. I'll take the bigger one, it uses much less energy and resources to make one larger bottle than it does to make two smaller bottles. And I'll never be buying those little sample bottles of anything again -- no matter how cute they are!


I'm hoping that by adopting my new "bigger is better" attitude, I'll be able to reduce my packaging trash by at least 10%. That means I'll save one 13-gallon trashbag every ten weeks, or about 5 trash bags a year. If 25% of Americans joined me in this, we could save over 378 MILLION trash bags each year!

Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5

This one will be a little more difficult because I'll probably have to do some shopping at Costco and Ukrops, in addition to Kroger. Three separate stores, but if I combine it all into one trip, it should only take an extra 45 minutes or so each week. Time well spent, my friends.


gregra&gar said...

This is one of your best. I watched a lady two customers ahead of me in checkout strip every packaged item down to the item itself and left the packages on the runway. The frustrated clerk had to sort out the packages for the bar code. She had to have been over eighty. She was a great example of doing ones best, setting a good example and proving the adage "you're as young as you feel. I think bulk only stores should proliferate.

Mary Elizabeth said... carries 7th gen. stuff. And firstime orders are free shipping over $25, and after that it's free shipping over $45. So as long as you have space to stock up, this might be an alternative?

Also, wanted to make sure you'd heard about these (I haven't tried them yet):

Why I Blog... said...

You gotta love an old biddy with a strong personality! I hope that's how I am when I grow up!

Glad you both posted today... I get worried when I don't hear from my "regulars" in a while!

Thanks for the tip on the soap nuts. It sounds like a name for someone who sits around all afternoon watching "The Young and the Restless". I will definitely check them out, though. Sounds like I could re-use them over and over too, since I always wash in cold water.

Thanks for the comments guys! I love to hear from you all :-)

Elise said...

Hi! I realize this post is almost a year old but I was reading through your blog (great ideas btw) and I was wondering if you'd ever seen these

If you get past the giggle worthy name "kootsac" they might be extremely helpful in reducing the plastics you use even more! I've never tried them but they seem really cool.