No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Healthy Bulk Packaging Tips

Healthy Home 2008, Spring 2008

There are plenty of good reasons to buy food and other items in bulk: You'll pay less in the long run, and you'll also cut back on wasteful packaging.

In fact, bulk items reduce waste up to 90 percent by volume and 75 percent by weight over single-serving portions. And there are many creative ways to repackage bulk items for everyday use in your home. Jugs of detergent or oil are unwieldy, but you can decant them into smaller, more manageable jars (always label them clearly) and store the rest until you need more.

Keep bulk cereal, beans, and other dry goods in wide-mouthed glass containers for easy access.

Resist impulse buys at warehouse stores. Whether it's a jumbo container of your favorite snack or a big box of napkins, too much of a good thing can actually be bad. Think about whether you'll use your purchase in a timely manner. You don't want to throw away an item because it has expired, you've gotten tired of it, or you're running out of storage space. Also, remember that health-food stores often stock bulk items, such as soaps and cleaners, that are better for you and the planet than what you may find at a warehouse store.

More Careful
To avoid buying single-serving packages, invest in small, reusable containers for lunches: The safest are made of glass, metal, or ceramic. If you need to use plastic because you're concerned about kids breaking the containers, avoid those made with #3, #5, #6, or #7 plastic (see Plastic Containers).

Most Careful
Be mindful of the bulk packaging itself. Not everything needs to be wrapped in multiple layers of paper, plastic, and cardboard. Unless the packaging seems necessary for protecting the product in transit, avoid that brand if there's a better alternative.

Comments (8)

  • erose33 17 Jan, 2009

    Please consider buying a reusable water bottle or two instead of those horrid plastic one-shot bottles!! SIGG water bottles are beautiful and have NO plastics in them. Nalgene makes plastic bottles without BPA, but if we "just discovered" how bad BPAs are, imagine what else is in plastics that's awful that we haven't figured out yet... you will save a lot of money just by buying a reusable water bottle and investing in a water filter.

  • roulettemurray 15 Jan, 2009

    I have been saving my 2 litre pop bottles for my summer garden. I poke small holes in bottom, bury to neck, and fill with rain water to keep my garden watered.

  • 4Lori 18 Dec, 2008

    Where were the containers from above picture purchased?

  • CraftyLadyTOO 17 Dec, 2008

    I keep bottled water on hand in case of emergency. I keep a case in the car, one in the basement, and one in the garage refrigerator. As bottles are used take them to the recycling center. DON'T throw them in the trash. I have started recycling and am AMAZED at the amount of items that I, as a single adult, use that can be recycled. If it has a 1 or a 2 on the bottom in the little triangle, it can be recycled. Soft drink bottles can be recycled also.

  • kissd56 17 Dec, 2008

    I agree that throwaway plastic water bottles should be avoided but I don't get why soft drink / pop bottles are not being included in our attempts to discourage the use of throwaway plastic containers! Because we need publicly-funded good quality drinking water for everyone it is important that we keep up the focus on bottled water but we can't ignore the blight on the landscape caused by all those used-up, tossed away and forgotten plastic drink bottles!

  • CertainlySusan 16 Dec, 2008

    Thanks for these tips, especially the one about which number plastics to avoid. There are campaigns against bottled water across the country as the bottles are a terrible environmental hazard. Don't by bottled water thinking you can reuse the bottle: reusing some bottles are hazard to your health as well as to the environment.

  • Rinchen 16 Dec, 2008

    If you can make one New Year's Resolution, make this one. Have at your disposal a Rubbermaid clear plastic container in which to put the leftovers from your abundant lunch. Help stamp out those styrafoam containers!

  • sgts 16 Dec, 2008

    Thank you so much for these ideas. I will put them into use to start the New Year off right.