Shopping in bulk is not always 'easy', but like Kermit the Frog said, "It's not easy being green". I keep my empty plastic/glass containers, bags, and herb bottles and reuse them at Rainbow Grocery, a worker owned coop.
Rainbow Grocery's has been in San Francisco’s Mission District since 1975 and some of it's employees have been working there for over 25 years - some history in this beautiful City.
I keep all my grains and nuts in glass mason jars. Once they are empty, I keep them in a canvas bag ready for my next shopping adventure. Shopping in bulk allows me to purchase the exact amount of a product I need for my week or for a specific recipe. I can purchase 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes, 2 teaspoons of cumin, 3 tablespoons of curry, 1/4 cup of brown mustard seeds, 1/2 cup of bath salts, small amount of detergent, body lotions or nut butters. The point is you do not have to purchase a full bottle of an ingredient or product when only a small amount is needed for your recipe. Shopping in bulk allows you this freedom.
In this case, I was able to purchase my quinoa plastic free by reusing my own glass mason jar. I've got the tare weight and the product number listed on the jar.
I used my empty mustard seed container to purchase whole black pepper. Cover the label and the barcode on the back of the container.
TARE weight is the weight of an empty container. By subtracting it from the gross weight, the weight of the goods carried may be determined. Read more about it here: Tare weight
I've got my empty plastic bottles washed and ready to go!
Once at the store, weigh your empty bottles on the scale. The weight of my empty reusable bottles is different for each container, so weigh them all and label them with a sticker. The TARE weight for this bottle is 0.13 - on a sticker, write "TARE 0.13".
Find a product that best fits your budget and fill your container. You'll notice a number associated with each product. With a sticker provided, write the product number on the bottle next to the TARE weight. In this case, it's 9009. It's that easy!
I had an empty olive jar and I needed more olives. Clean out the jar and lid, get the TARE weight and post the sticker over the barcode.
After weighing the jar, find the olives you wish to buy and fill the jar.
After filling the jar, I add a sticker just above the TARE weight with the product number. This makes it easy for the checkout person to find all the information in one area.
I don't have to worry about the olive juice spilling in my bag or on my bike ride home like it would when I used the containers provided by the grocery store.
This looks much nicer in the fridge as well...
I'm going to make a soup that requires 1 cup of cannellini beans. I measure out one cup, use my own bag, tag the product number and done! In some cases when I'm purchasing herbs, I will write what's in the bag or jar. This will help with herbs that look alike.
When I run out of hand soap, I keep the plastic container and refill it with more hand soap. Seems simple, but it takes some effort. This bottle leaks when I travel with it, so I found a container that holds the same amount of liquid with a strong lid.
Get the TARE weight and cover the barcode with the sticker. Find a hand soap you enjoy and fill the bottle.
Once home, fill the 'nicer' container with the hand soap.
Here's the kicker. This soup is just as nice as any, but much more affordable at $4.01 compared to the other brand at $12.95
Being green and saving money... it's worth the effort.
Looks nice and it smells just as good as the $12.95 hand soap.
In a reusable glass jar, fill up on coconut butter or oil. I use this on my skin, in the fry pan, to brush teeth, etc.
Why do all this? Well, besides being a little kind to the environment, shopping in bulk is a great way to save money. For every bag I bring from home, I get 0.10 back at check-out. Also, knowing that I'm shopping at a local coop is a big plus.
Little Vine on Grant Street has the BEST bulk Bozzano Ranch virgin olive oil and it's a local producer out of Stockton, California. In 2006 I purchased beautiful bottle of olive oil while traveling around northern Italy. I love that I can continue to use this bottle.
Bozzano Olive Ranch offers Bulk Purchases, as well as Custom Milling and Bottling at competitive rates.
If you need more information, please watch this video on 'Rainbow Grocery's How to Shop in Bulk'. It's a little old. Currently, you get .10 cents for plastic bag you reuse.