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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.

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