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Four Reasons We Love Bulk Bin Shopping

bulk bin shopping

Buying food and personal care products in bulk is catching on as the zero-waste movement is becoming more mainstream. It’s becoming so popular that you can buy almost anything in bulk (just ask Bea Johnson) including dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, spices, olive oil, honey, coffee, wine and nut butter. Why we love bulk bin shopping:

1. Bulk ingredients are less expensive

Why pay for your food and your packaging every time you shop? One benefit of bulk bin shopping is that it reduces all the hidden costs associated with packaging. In addition to the cost of the actual packaging production and materials, packaged food costs more because of package design, marketing, and transportation costs due to packaging weight and bulkier sizes of packaged foods. Then there’s the waste-hauling costs we pay to throw the package in the trash or recycling. Considering the lifecycle of a food package, it’s pretty silly to pay for all these ad-ons when we can just buy our food unpackaged.

2. Bulk ingredients are better for you

Eliminating packaging also means that your food isn’t sitting in small plastic bags, plastic bottles or plastic-lined paper bags for months before you purchase it. The Environmental Working Group says some plastics contain “ingredients or additives we know are harmful, like the plastics chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) and the plastic softeners called phthalates.” Shopping in bulk using your own stainless steel containers, cloth bags or glass jars means less surface area is in contact with plastic at the supplier, in transit, at the grocery store, in your kitchen, and ultimately in your food.

3. Buying in bulk reduces waste

Almost one-third of the trash generated by Americans is attributed to packaging, and all of that plastic waste is on the Earth somewhere and always will be. Our reliance on disposable packaging is overwhelming our planet: By 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. Remembering reusable bags and containers when going to the market is a high-impact way to positively affect the health of the planet. Look for containers that have etched tare weights to make checkout seamless for you and the market (the container’s weight is easily deducted at checkout).

tare weight bulk bins

4. Buying in bulk gives you more control over quantity

Ever just need a teaspoon of an unusual spice for a recipe but end up buying a whole jar and never use what’s leftover? Ever want to try a new shampoo or coffee but don’t want to buy the entire bottle or bag? The NRDC says “40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.” Bulk bin shopping is a great solution to help reduce food waste, as well as other household products. Buy as little or as much as you need.

Our favorite places to shop in bulk (and get inspiration):

Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax

Package-Free Shop in Brooklyn

The Refill Shoppe in Ventura

in.gredients in Austin

The Source Bulk Foods in Australia

Zero-Waste Market coming soon in Vancouver

Bepakt index of package-free markets

Zero-Waste Grocery Shopping Tips from Zero-Waste Home

Bulk Finder App, to find bulk locations while you travel, also from Zero-Waste Home

Where to Shop is a state-by-state guide for bulk shopping, package-free foods and household goods from Litterless

There are many more! Do you have a favorite to add to the list? Let us know at reuse@ukonserve.com.

Image from 3 Chairs.

Top 10 Healthy Home Tips for 2017

healthy home

Start the New Year by taking steps to create a healthy home. Simple changes can have a huge impact on your health and the health of the planet. Here are our top ten healthy home tips for the new year:

1. Question plastic

Plastics not only pollute our planet, but research has shown that some plastics also harm our health. Avoid cans lined with plastic and eliminate single-use plastics that break down easily. Seek out non-plastic alternatives: use a cloth shower curtain, purchase food and drinks in glass jars/bottles instead of plastic, and pack lunches and leftovers in stainless steel and glass.

2. Avoid fragrance

Fragrance in dryer sheets, fabric softeners, cleaning products, candles and air fresheners often contain rarely disclosed toxic chemicals, including phthalates and formaldehyde. If you like scents, make sure they come from sources you can identify like essential oils, and avoid products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.

3. Clean without toxins

Not only do conventional cleaning products harm our health, the chemicals also go down the drain and pollute our waterways. Vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bronner’s castille soap are remarkably effective, non-toxic, inexpensive cleaning options. Skip the pre-packaged cleaners unless you’re comfortable with their toxicity rating on Skin Deep.

 4. Use non-toxic personal care products

Soaps, skin care and makeup are loaded with questionable chemicals including parabens, phthalates, toluene and triclosan. Because the industry is highly unregulated, and we absorb most of these products through our skin, use EWG’s database to identify safe alternatives and try homemade solutions.

5. Dust

Household dust is not only responsible for allergies, but it’s also made up of toxins from your home including fire retardants, lead and other chemicals. Vacuum often with a HEPA filter, open your windows for ventilation, and clean with a damp cloth.

6. Ditch the non-stick

Since the EPA lists PFOA (one type of PFC used in some non-stick and water-resistant coatings) as a “likely human carcinogen”, it’s best to find alternatives. Use stainless steel or cast iron pans, avoid takeout containers, and don’t purchase clothing with unnecessary stain proofing or water-resistant coatings.

7. Control pests naturally

These days it’s pretty simple to control pests by keeping your home clean, sealing entrances and using natural pest remedies. The NRDC has suggestions and a link for controlling over 30 different pests naturally.

8. Eat FLOSN foods

Thanks to the Conscious Kitchen, we have a new acronym to help us remember what foods to eat: fresh, local, organic, seasonal and non-GMO. This healthy home tip is easy if you shop at the farmers market, cook homemade meals, and pack lunches daily.

9. Drink filtered tap water

Tap water is regulated by the EPA, which requires yearly public reports, but bottled water is regulated by the FDA, which has no such requirement. Drinking filtered water is an important healthy home tip, but which filter should you use? Find out with this updated water filter guide.

10. Choose natural materials

Furniture made of wood with wool or cotton cushions will likely contain fewer toxins than those made of pressboard, plastics or stuffed with treated polyurethane foam. Remember this tip when replacing your mattress and bedding too.