Each week we produce around 5 gallons of garbage but our recycling is still overflowing. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to reduce our recycling as well, spurred on by our discovery of refillable milk bottles at Byrne Dairy. The way to do this is to buy in bulk using your own reusable containers.
For anyone who hasn’t been initiated into this shopping method (me!!!) it is pretty overwhelming. Planning for a shopping trip is one thing, planning for a shopping trip and what containers you might need for that trip is another.
I’d heard of Abundance Cooperative Market but had never been, so my friend Beth and I went out to do a little research.
People on the Zero Waste Rochester Facebook group said that Abundance has a huge bulk section, which is an understatement.
This is only part of it – they had stuff in bulk I didn’t even know could be bulk such as vanilla, spices, shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, peanut butter and more than I could possibly list. I was hoping that they would have a complete list online, but it’s not comprehensive by any means. You can see a few more of the items by clicking here.
I was honestly overwhelmed. I think it might take me four or five trips to get a routine down.
I keep going back and forth about whether it’s worth it to buy in bulk when the container for some items is not particularly awful – rolled oats come to mind. But then I think about how much really pay for packaging in terms of cost (lunchables and bottled water anyone?) so I did a little digging and found a source that said that as much as 8% of what we spend on food goes to packaging.
Another thought I had was whether the impact of producing packaging for our food is actually obscured by us not seeing it. I read recently that if you buy bottled water, it takes three times more water to make the bottle than it does to fill it. I’m guessing that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Recycling is much better than throwing things in a landfill but isn’t anywhere near as good as reusing.
So I’m working toward buying our food in bulk.
Because I was feeling overwhelmed and absorb information slowly, I didn’t go in with a game plan so didn’t end up buying much. I did however, end up stocking up on some bulk nut butter. I didn’t bring any jars with me, but they had some mason jars for purchase on the shelf at eye level. It was like water to my zero waste loving soul.
I would say that overall the coolest and most noteworthy thing for me at Abundance was that the entire bulk section is set up for you to bring your own containers so you’re not bucking the system or confusing anyone – which I love. In addition to mason jars they had funnels, scoops, ladels and anything else you might need, which you could put in the “dirty dishes” section of the shelf when you were finished.
They even have a little graphic to help you out if you need a visual for how to buy in bulk from them.
A long time ago I farmed out grocery shopping to my husband, but it looks like we’ll be completely reformatting our grocery buying experience. I just never realized that this was a thing that you could do and that there were places in Rochester that are set up for it. I’m really looking forward to going back!
I was also informed by some people more in the know than I, that you can purchase a share in the co-op. Benefits include receiving 10% off your entire purchase once a month, and receiving dividends at the end of the year if the cooperative makes money. To learn more about owning a share, which is a one time purchase, click here.
I know there are other places in Rochester that have bulk sections such as Lori’s and of course Wegmans. I’m not sure that Wegmans is privy to people bringing their own containers – does anyone have any experience with that? I have so much more research to do!