Zero Waste Shopping

March 17, 2017

I was pretty excited to hear about Bulk Barn’s reusable container program. Starting February 24, 2016, you can bring your own containers into Bulk Barn and fill them with the products they sell. I have used a similar service at Vancouver’s The Soap Dispensary and loved it.  This week was my first opportunity to try out Bulk Barn’s new program.

Containers ready for shopping

Before heading to Bulk Barn, please review their Reusable Container Program on their website and make sure your containers meet their standards. Its pretty straight forward – glass or plastic, empty, clean, no rust, no chips, no bags. My containers are labelled because I am using my storage containers, but you don’t have to label them.

When you enter the store, find a cashier and get your containers weighed. They will mark each container with the weight. Then do your shopping. When you check out, the weight of the container will be deducted from the total weight.

Shopping all done.

While the program is pretty straight forward, I was not sure what I would find at the store. The success of this program will depend not only on the shopping public’s desire to reduce waste, but also from the stores attitude to the program.

I was pleasantly surprised at the service I received. There was a line up at the cashier when I entered the store, but when I asked what to do, another employee came out immediately to weigh my containers. While we shopped, the manager came out to speak to us about the program. After shopping, checkout was smooth and seamless.

I would normally price shop a bit, buying the bulk goods wherever I can get the best price. Bulk Barn has very competitive pricing on their products; however, with this new program, I am willing to buy all my bulk goods at their stores just to have zero waste.

It was a real treat to get home and just put my containers away. Normally I would have the job of transferring my purchased from the plastic bags to my containers. Then wiping out the plastic bags and storing them for future use.

A couple of tips:

  • Be sure your containers meet their standards.
  • Take a few extra containers with you for impulse purchases and sale items.
  • Chose containers with wide mouths that are easy to fill using Bulk Barn scoops. (My current container for Tapioca Starch has a narrow mouth and was difficult to fill.)

It is an exciting step forward for a main stream store to offer a Zero-Waste Program. I hope you will utilize it. The more successful this program is, the more likely other stores will be to follow their example. Use your shopping dollars to encourage the change you want to see.



About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
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