Buying in Bulk to Cut Back on Packaging


Most consumer goods nowadays are way over packaged, making it difficult for those of us that keep a close eye on our household garbage production.  A good way to curb some of the plastic and paper packaging is to buy in bulk when it makes sense. Select larger quantities in a single bag or box. Packaging waste makes up ½ of all U.S. municipal solid waste by volume. I have not yet found the hard data, but I have read the claim that more of our food bill pays for packaging than actually goes to the food producers (farmers). 

 Saving Money – Organic oats from the bulk bins can cost less than $1 per pound, while a package of organic oatmeal can cost upwards of $8.00.  

If you make your own pet food, buying in bulk could really cut down on your grocery bill. Uncooked chicken and turkey can be stored in the freezer safely for up to 9 months. Organic rice and oats are much cheaper from bulk bins and rice has a shelf life of 2 years.

See this list of food items that tells you generally how long specific foods last. You don’t want to overdue it and end up throwing away food. And if you’re looking to save money make sure to check the unit price, what I call the true price.  

Don’t be fooled: Not all bulk items have less packaging. Some items, like individually sized chip bags are just comprised of smaller packages bundled together with more packaging materials.  Look for items without packaging, or limited packaging. Many brands are beginning to catch on, using recycled packaging materials and cutting down on over-packaging.  

In the produce section say no to plastic bags! Don’t worry, I don’t use those plastic bags on a roll and no cashier has ever given me a hard time. They may look at me a little funny, but I’m used to that. If you’re worried about those apples rolling around then purchase some reusable produce bags 

Personally Speaking: I realized how many plastic yogurt cups I was throwing into the recycling bin and have since started buying the larger size containers that last me the whole week. I have to put up with one flavor for a while, but I think it’s worth the sacrifice. I buy fresh veggies and fruit by the pound instead of those in Styrofoam and plastic or clamshell containers. I also make a point to buy soup in recyclable cans instead of individual microwaveable single-portion cups.  

What do you buy in bulk? Any good brands to recommend? How do you save cash and slash the grocery bill?


8 responses to “Buying in Bulk to Cut Back on Packaging

  1. I buy everything I can in bulk. But sometimes the manufacturers don’t save materials where they could. For example, you can buy a package of a dozen rolls of paper towels but they will still individually wrap each roll.

  2. I’m with you on the yogurt thing! I just buy two different types of berries or fruit and use them to add a variety of flavor! Granola works too!

    What really makes me wonder is although the internet is great for shopping, all the boxes that carry the products have to go somewhere and I feel a fair amount end up directly in the trash!

  3. I ditch the plastic produce bags too, even though the odd radish will tumble down the conveyer belt. Eh. The individually wrapped packages in a bulk purchase make me crazy too! And Aaron makes a good point about internet shopping–another thing to curb if you’re worried about waste.

  4. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  5. Look at this packaging…

    Nice. I took 62 bags… 3 where garbage in the end…

    What a joke…

  6. I think Starbucks should recycle their tip bags. Don’t you>

    Look at this…

    Maybe if we give them some masking tape they can relabel the bags…

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