by Andi Marietta, Front of House Manager
Every year the city of Urbana offers a recycling program to people living in single-family homes up through four-plex housing units through a contractor. This contractor generally serves about 8,500 such domiciles per week. The items for recycling are placed in a large container and taken to a facility to be sorted by type of item (cardboard, steel, glass, #1 plastic, etc). Once sorted, the items themselves are baled and shipped to different facilities to be recycled. Some of those facilities are here in town, some are as far away as Georgia (1). The items are then recycled and turned into new products.
While recycling is a great thing to do to help reduce these sorts of items going into a landfill, you can see that recycling requires further energy and resources to get the items recycled. What can make a bigger impact environmentally is to reduce the amount of items you need to recycle. This is where reusable items come in.
We all know how reusable bags for carrying our groceries reduces bags going into the landfill, can be good for the environment, and save the co-op some significant money (2). But how can we reduce the packaging for items we buy in the store? Bulk buying to the rescue!
If you bring your own containers to carry the bulk items you purchase, it reduces the amount of packaging used for that item. You can even put the bulk items directly in the container you store them in at home, which is super handy - just make sure they’re clean when you bring them in. Another perk to buying in bulk is you can get just the amount you need (particularly handy if you need a spice for a certain recipe but only need a small amount). Often times buying in bulk is cheaper than buying packaged goods.
Bulk items are sold by weight. To make sure you only pay for the amount you’re purchasing, be sure to get the weight of the container you’re using before you fill it (the fancy term we use here in the store is the “tare weight”). We have a scale available in the bulk aisle, or just bring the empty container to the registers and we’ll be happy to weigh it for you. You can then fill the container, make note of the bin # so it can be rung at the registers and you’re ready to go.
If you don’t have a container but would like to get started buying items in our bulk aisle more sustainably, we sell jars and bags perfect for reusing. They are located at the entrance to the bulk aisle at the front of the store, and also near the registers.
Thanks for reading, and happy bulk buying!
2: The average order for our co-op for larger grocery bags is $415.71 per week. Take that times a year that comes to $21,616.92. It sure adds up quick, doesn’t it?