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Bulk food stores, or even bulk aisles, are amazing ways to save money and eliminate unnecessary packaging. The key to this is to bring your own reusable tote bags. If the weight of your bag is significant enough to effect the price, make sure to write the weight of the bag ON your bag, so the cashier can quickly and easily tare the weight off of the final price.
This is KEY to reducing waste. Simply buying bulk food to use one of the store’s thin plastic bags is not zero waste, and it is not sustainable. At that rate, it’s better to buy something packaged in compostable cardboard.
Some stores may offer compostable or biodegradable bags to use. To this I say, please only use them in an emergency, and only if your community is actually able to compost those materials, unless they can be composted in home composters– but in my experience, I have never found a ‘compostable’ plastic bag that I could compost in my backyard.
Here is a list I’ve compiled of stores around the U.S. that offer a variety of food in bulk:
Maryland/ Washington D.C.