As misnomers go, parkways and driveways take the cake; we drive on parkways and park in driveways. We have our own misnomer at Willy Street Co-op…the bulk aisle. “Bulk” implies you have to purchase a copious amount, when in fact you can purchase as much or as little from the bulk aisle as you want. I’ve witnessed Owners empty out entire bins of adzuki beans, while others have purchased just enough Fair Trade cinnamon for a single recipe. That’s the beauty of the bulk aisle—you decide the quantity and can experiment with foods you may have wondered about but haven’t tried before.

The bulk aisle exists to make life easier, and the benefits of buying in bulk are numerous. From portion control to plentiful pantries to environmental benefits, the bulk aisles at Willy Street Co-op offer you the opportunity to take control of your diet and your carbon footprint. Since Earth Week is in April, there is no better time than right now to get accustomed to shopping in bulk. Granted, every month should be dedicated to our one and only Earth, but April has been set aside to remind us to be kind to our planet any way we can. So yes, next month—and hopefully every month—buy in bulk because you love kindness to Earth.

Bulk Food For Thought
In 2012, Portland State University in Oregon conducted an intensive study on bulk foods and unveiled some staggering figures. In one of their studies researchers discovered that if everyone in America purchased their almonds in bulk for one month, “6,000,000 pounds of waste could be saved from landfills.” That is no small number, neither is 20,000,000 pounds—that’s the amount of foil packaging that could be saved from landfills if Americans purchased their coffee in bulk for just one month. That’s not a lot to ask, especially when you consider how often you purchase packaged coffee.

The Environmental Protection Agency also states that a third of the solid waste in the U.S. is derived from food packaging. This refers to the packaging itself, not the resources required to create it or the resources required to place it in a landfill. When you consider the fact that many of the foods available in bulk originate from the same company as their packaged counterparts, it makes tremendous sense to buy in bulk whenever you can. This month we are making it even easier to purchase bulk foods. From April 21st to April 27th, Willy Street Co-op is taking 10 percent off organic bulk products (except bulk coffee) purchased in the bulk aisle.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice
Willy Street Co-op West’s General Merchandise Buyer, Lily, is a huge advocate of purchasing in bulk. “The bulk aisle is great for my family because it suits our needs sunup to sundown,” said the mother of three. Lily has her bulk items grouped by use in her pantry to take all the guesswork out of meal planning. Lily is more than aware of the environmental benefits of buying bulk. “Reusing jars is huge. The feeling I get from knowing I’ve helped reduce the amount of landfill packaging is wonderful. There’s no reason I should be throwing away packaging every time I shop. That doesn’t make sense fiscally or sustainably,” she continued.

Willy Street Co-op sells mason jars, beautifully shaped bottles, BPA-free plastic bottles and other creative containers that would love to house your bulk items. Storing your prized chocolate coconut curry cashews or favorite me-time granola in a nondescript vessel is a fantastic, clandestine way to keep wandering housemates and devouring teenagers from discovering your bulk aisle shopping habits. Of course, the best way to get a feel for the bulk aisle is to take a tour for yourself, or simply ask anyone here at Willy Street Co-op and we’d be happy to show you around. You’ll discover numerous spices from allspice to the wonder-herb turmeric, a variety of organic legumes, rice, oats, granola, flour, pasta, sprouted seeds, nuts, camping-ready soup mixes, dried fruits, peanut and almond butter, oils and syrups, even laundry detergent. If you’re uncertain how to prepare bulk foods, we also have new and improved bulk cooking guides you can take home at no cost.

Make it your goal this month to purchase in bulk. Remember, this April 21st to 27th we are offering 10 percent off all organic bulk products (except bulk coffee). Don’t worry; we’ll keep the bins full of your favorite treats and staples. You keep your recycling bin empty and parked off your driveway.