Have you heard about Zero Waste bulk stores? Have you been to one of them?
Bulk stores are completely life-changing if you talk about being zero waste. You can get there a wide variety of dry and fresh food, drinks and also reusable accessories, natural beauty, hygiene products. All without packaging or in recyclable, biodegradable one.
Of course, it’s possible to shop zero waste in a normal grocery store but bulk stores make shopping without packaging much easier, cheaper while still having a huge variety to choose from. I wish every city would have one of those as it would help to limit our disposable plastic usage.
Worth mentioned that bulk stores often support local businesses and collaborate with fair trade, bio, local companies, and farmers. Great for the local community and economy!
While living in Belgium as an Erasmus+ student now I was excited when I found a bulk store “Zonder Meer” on Happy Cow app. Even though its a small, cozy place it offers many different unpacked, bio, natural, local vegetables, dry and fresh products, and accessories. Everything there is either vegan or vegetarian. In short, you will find there everything you need to live a sustainable lifestyle.
So I decided to go and see it myself!
Check out my video down below and see how was my first experience shopping in a bulk store in Belgium and what I bought.
Still not quite sure about this “bulk buy” thing? Let me give you some helpful tips for beginners!
#1 Prepare in advance
Bring your reusable cotton cloth bags, glass or plastic jars, containers. Make sure they are clean. You can even reuse small plastic bags. You don’t have any glass jar or any reusable packaging at hand? Don’t worry! There is always some glass jars, paper bags on the spot which you can take to fill up with some package free goodies. You can also bring your spare packaging which you don’t need anymore for someone to use.
#2 Ask for help
At first, it can look a quite weird place with a lot of different containers, liquids. It can sometimes be tricky to fill up a very small jar or to find ingredients list etc.
In almost every bulk store there is a poster with step by step how to buy things but still, the salesperson will help you in any situation. Don’t be shy or scared to ask. They are amazing people who care about the wellbeing of the environment and they want you to be satisfied and excited every time you shop while being sustainable.
You can often have a nice conversation with the owner or salespersons and they are glad to explain more about products and the store. Often bulk shops are small and cozy so it’s easy to develop personal contact with sales person which often is also the owner as it is in Zonder Meer. Also if you have some allergies feel free to ask the salesperson.
#3 Weight your packaging before filling it up
Don’t forget to weight down the reusable packing you brought on the scale and write with the marker how much it weights afterward the weight will be taken away at the checkout.
In Zonder Meer, the owner and cashier help to do it and print a special sticker for your packaging. At the checkout, the sticker is scanned and the weight of the jar is taken off. Normally, you don’t take off the weight of a small cloth bulk bag as it is very lightweight but you can ask for sure if you buy some very expensive bulk product.
Remember the price depends on the weight. Sometimes you can even mix different products in one bag if they cost the same amount per kg. Be careful by not filing too much because you can’t put it back. So weight your bag or jar from time to time to see how much you have or just ask a salesperson in the shop for assistance.
I highly recommend you to visit Zero waste shop and try it yourself. You will be surprised how many different, cool and delicious things you can find. Enjoy and invite friends to come with you. It can be a very fun shopping experience.
What’s your favorite product in the bulk stores? Do you have one in your city? Have you been there before? Leave in the comments below!
I am always happy to answer questions and hear your shopping experience.
Keep it minimal waste – extra life!
See you in the next post!
Thumbnail photo was taken by Febe Moyaert