How buying in bulk helps the earth.
If you're looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Earth Month, consider making a commitment to bulk buying. Buying in bulk makes good sense in several ways, but perhaps the most important of these is that it's so much better for the environment than buying pre-packaged products.
Earth Month Pledge and Info from BIG
The Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is asking consumers to take a pledge to purchase natural and organic foods from the bulk bins of their local grocers once a week during Earth Month. If every American took the pledge and opted for bulk, we'd save more than 26 million pounds of packaging waste from landfills in the month of April alone. You can find out more about the pledge and how to sign up at BIG's Do You Love Bulk Foods?. BIG has also created an engaging infographic, The Earth Loves Bulk Foods.
BIG is an organization dedicated to helping consumers, food makers and grocers learn about the many environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods.
1) Cut Waste
The EPA reports that Americans generate about 80 million tons of waste from packaging and containers each year. The most obvious benefit for Mother Nature of our buying in bulk is that it greatly reduces that waste.
According to a study conducted by the Portland State University's Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC) on behalf of the Bulk is Green Council (BIG), purchasing oatmeal from the bulk bin saves five times the waste of its packaged equivalent. FILC also found that if Americans purchased all of their coffee in bulk for one year, nearly 240 million pounds of foil packaging would be saved from our landfills. And if we purchased all of our almonds in bulk for one year, 72 million pounds of waste would be saved from landfills. You get the idea.
There are other, less obvious, perks for the environment. Buying from bulk bins means that you can purchase exactly the amount of food you need, cutting down on waste. And remember the beginning of the process—less packaging also means less production of materials in the first place, which means less use of resources.
2) Reduce Emissions
The British store Unpackaged reports that there is an overall average 48 percent reduction in emissions each time a product is refilled from their bulk store compared to the same product bought in traditional packaging. Similarly, the FILC study found that choosing to sell bulk foods saves a food company an average of 54 percent on material and delivery costs when compared to selling packaged foods. That's because more pallets of bulk food can be packed onto delivery trucks. Of course, this also means less fossil fuels burned in transportation. Speaking of transportation, you can also save on fossil fuels when you buy in bulk by stocking up and making fewer trips to the grocery store.
Keep in mind that buying in bulk from warehouses that offer foods in larger boxes and packages isn't always an improvement over traditional packaging. Oftentimes these are simply a number of smaller packages wrapped together into one large package. The best bulk buying practice is purchasing from food co-ops and other grocers who sell in bulk bins.
BIG sums up, "Packaged food goods require significantly more transportation to bring to shelf. The manufacture of packages pulls trees from our forests, dumps contaminated water into our streams, uses enormous amounts of energy and shoots tons of CO2 into our atmosphere. Plus, packaging is a burden on our landfills. With bulk foods, you'll be a better environmental citizen."
BIG is asking consumers to take a Love Bulk Foods Pledge to purchase natural and organic foods from the bulk bins of their local grocers once a week during Earth Month. If every American took the pledge and opted for bulk, we'd save more than 26 million pounds of packaging waste from landfills in the month of April alone.
3) Save Money
There are other benefits to buying in bulk, including cost. In fact, a shopper can save an average of 89 percent by purchasing natural and organic foods in the bulk foods aisle of a grocery store, according to the FILC study. Learn more about the Advantages of Buying in Bulk and Tips for Bulk Buying. And to read more about the FILC study and access its top findings, visit this BIG webpage.
Clearly, bulk buying is one way that we can have a big, positive impact. And that's cause for celebration year round!
© 2014 Frontier Co-op. All rights reserved.