Months ago I walked into our local Bulk Barn and saw a little green flyer by the cash. I was SUPER excited. I've always wondered why I couldn't use my own containers at Bulk Barn, and I'm really keen to reduce plastic and waste in our home.
We shop at Bulk Barn almost weekly - it's my go-to place for all the ingredients I need to make granola, bread, muffins and snacks for the kids' lunches. So you can imagine how many plastic bags we were using. And although I try to reuse and recycle, I know that every time I rip one of those plastic bags off the roller, some part of the environment is dying a little (ok, a bit melodramatic...but true, right?)
We've been doing the container system for a number of weeks now, and here is what I've discovered:
I'm shopping more often
In the past, I'd hit up Bulk Barn every 2-3 weeks and buy really large quantities of things I needed. Now I'm a bit limited in space as I don't own many gigantic jars. One of my goals is to build up my supply of large containers, so that I can take home more of everything I need. Small jam containers only work well for spices or smaller goods.
Waiting in line to weigh my jars is annoying
Once you get to the store, you have to get your jars weighed before you can fill them up. This can be annoying when the store is really busy, and you're waiting in line behind people who are trying to pay for their stuff. It would be great if Bulk Barn came up with an automated weigh system - so far, their staff are using little stickers to write down the weight, and it seems they won't take my word for it if I've left the sticker on from my previous shopping.
Things can get a little messy
Trying to shovel flour into a container can be a bit messy. It's doable, but be prepared to spend a few more minutes filling your jars (and discreetly covering up your messes.) Also, apparently Bulk Barn will not allow you to use "dirty" containers - they have to be really well cleaned. I can see this as a liability issue for them, but I'm not fussy about a bit of flour being left over in my jar.
I LOVE the grind-your-own options
I've never enjoyed Bulk Barn's peanut butter. I recently realized it's because they add salt, and I find it WAY too salty. With my jars I've started to grind my own peanuts - it makes a nice, smooth peanut butter that the kids really enjoy. It's a tiny bit pricier than the stuff in the bins, but I'm happy to pay the extra for the superior taste.
My kitchen is more organized
Most things are now stored in mason jars, which actually makes my cupboards a bit more organized. Instead of trying to sort through bags and bags of food to find something, I can easily see what I'm looking for. And I've labelled most of my jars so I don't have to ask my husband "is this icing sugar, or corn starch?"
All in all, I think it's fantastic that Bulk Barn has made this move. I really hope more people will start using the container system, as I think it will force them to improve the system a bit more. There should be automated self-serve weigh stations, and smaller scoops in the bins. Also, I would love a discount for reducing my waste, just like I get at the coffee shop when I bring my own mug.
Have you tried the new system? What do you think?