There are many advantages to living in the Now and being involved in the Present moment only. But when it comes to doing groceries and general housemaking, planning is key. A little bit of planning makes these household actions a whole lot simpler, easier, cheaper and earth friendly. In this article I will show you which 5 essential items I buy in bulk and how much (money, time, packaging etc) it saves to do this. These items are so universally used, the tips given will be applicable everyday and to all.
Hope you find it of use! (bettttt you will ; )
5 HOUSEHOLD ESSENTIALS I BUY IN BULK
The fully biodegradable organic dishwashing liquid I use can be bought in (half) liter bottles or bulk packaging. It is a liquid soap, so both come in plastic. By buying in bulk I greatly reduce the amount of plastic packaging I send to the trash and I save a bit of money while doing so. A one liter bottle costs 4 euro’s. A 10 liter jug costs 33 euro’s. That’s a minimum of 7 euro’s saved. I say ‘a minimum’ because the dishwashing liquid is so strong I dilute it. I use 1/3 dishwashing liquid to 2/3 water and it works fantastically well: it still removes all grease and cleans flawlessly. I bought our 10 liter jug on 28.03.2019 and it has lasted us until now, so well over 15 months. This bulk purchase also saves me time and effort as I had to think about buying it once in 15 months and not every month, forthnight or week.
We used to buy a bulk liquid laundry detergent by the same brand as our dishwashing liquid but we have now made the switch to something even more effiecient. We buy a powder laundry detergent that comes in a 100% paper bag and we buy it from the online organic supermarket we already shop all of our other groceries at. This means 1.we skip the plastic altogether. 2.we buy a product that is more potent as it has not been diluted with water, which is the case with liquid soaps. 3.this saves water and co2 emissions as skipping the transport of water reduces unnecessary weight transported. 4. we buy from a place we already shop at which does not add to delivery trips or parcel transport.
The 10 kilo bag of powdered laundry detergent costs 44 euro’s and will clean 450 loads of laundy. A similar powdered laundry detergent of 3 kg costs 20 euro’s. Our previous liquid laundry detergent was a plastic bulk jug of 10 liters, which costed 39 euro’s and lasted us 130 laundry loads. This means our current powdered detergent will last is over three times longer than our bulk liquid one did. And is three times as cheap as the liquid one. Conclusion: buying in bulk saves money, buying in bulk and powdered saves so much more!
We have been buying our toiletpaper in bulk for a few years now and altough it does not save too much money it is still something worth considering. Our usual package of 8 rolls came in plastic foil. This meant we had to buy toilet paper approximately every week. I had to schlepp it home with me, along with a large basket of other groceries. And upon arrival had to thow away ‘that serving of’ foil, every single week. The 8 rolls had 250 sheets each and cost 3,60 euro’s. We switched to bulk after my research to find the worlds ‘greenest’ toiletpaper, the one with the smallest environmental impact. The cardboard box holds 80 rolls, solely wrapped in paper. There is 0% plastic involved. The box costs 57 euro’s. This bulk buying appears to be more expensive than my previous 8 roll package BUT this plasticfree paper has 400 sheets per roll, instead of the standard 250. If you calculate like that 32.000 sheets of paper costs 57 euro’s and 20.000 sheets cost 36 euro’s. This means they are are both equally expensive (or cheap ; ) Yet buying bulk saves me schlepping, time and sooooo much unnecessary plastic. Well worth it.
Flour is one of the most versatile ingredients and I could not run my household without it. I use it in pancakes, wraps, flatbreads, sourdough, veggie burgers, granola bars, crackers and much much more. I therefore need to have it on hand always and daily. I’ve noticed how a lot of 1 kg packages do use plastic (foil) in its wrappers but larger bulk bags do not. Just by switching to a 5 kg bag instead of buying a 1 kg bag I skip the use of plastic altogether. A 1 kg bag (with plastic) cost me 2,75 and a 5 kg bag (without plastic) costs me 12,45. This saves me 1,30 euro’s.
Before you buy flour in bulk it is important to know you will be using it within a few months time. Know your use and buy accordingly. It is also important to then store it correctly, to make sure the flour will maintain it’s quality and nutritional value. I open the paper bag and fill an airtight jar with 1 kg of flour to keep in my kitchen cupboard. This one I open for daily use. I then close the main paper bag well, airtight, and keep it closed and stored away in my pantry. I will open this bag only when the 1 kg jar is empty and needs a refill. Afterwards I make sure to close the bulk bag really well and airtight again to ensure its quality and nutritional value.
The last one of the 5 items I buy in bulk is nuts. Nuts are expensive but definite nutritional powerhouses that I am making sure to add to my daily diet. Most nuts however are now grown in faraway places, needing plastics to keep well during transport halfway around the world. Although The Netherlands has walnut trees aplenty the walnuts I used to buy at the local organic store come from Madagascar, an island off the coast of the far Soutch East of Africa. They need to travel 9000 km to find their place into my pantry. An unsustainable practice I am no longer willing to participate in. I now buy my walnuts in bulk at a local farmer who uses the regenerative principles of Agroforestry. One kilo of local walnuts cost me 16 euro’s. Because the walnuts do not need to be transported for extended amounts of time they can be sold in brown paper bags. There is no plastic involved whatsoever.
The walnuts from Madagascar cost 10,60 per 500 grams or 20 euro’s per kilo. This saves me 4 euro’s per kg plus saves 8900 km of co2 emissions for transport and all the plastics for packaging. I furthermore support the work of local dedicated farmers to help regenerate our local lands, agriculture and communities. If you are interested in buying your nuts locally and in bulk I suggest researching which nuts are native to your area, which farmers grow them (ask or search for regenerative practices!) and to contact them directly. Ask for glass or paper packaging. Also: this type of direct trade forms priceless relationships, community and a healthy economy built on quality and value.
To store the nuts correctly open the paper bag, place a weeks worth of nuts in an airtight glass jar in your kitchen cupboard. Now close the paper bag well and place it in the freezer. Take it out when you need to refill your glass jar and put it bag after you’ve done so. This way you make sure the oils in the nuts do not get rancid, the quality is kept and the nutritional value remains high.
In case you’d like to go a step further and extend the 5 items to buy in bulk, consider the following: denttabs, whole grains, spices and oatmeal. Make sure to only buy the varieties you use a lot of, store them airtight and -in case of the grains- consider freezing them.
*I know some prefer to make their own dish soap or laundry detergent and this might well be suited to you. Years ago I did some calculating and decided not too. To buy each of the individual ingredients needed to make these products, transport them seperately from origin to the shop to my house and put in time (time x my hourly rate) to make them, turned out to be less efficient, less environmentally friendly and less cost effective than buying from a local sustainable brand that produces larger amounts of these products. Something worth considering.
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