"How do you know where to find bulk?," seems to be one of the most popular questions I get when explaining my lifestyle. Over time, I've slowly streamlined my approach to quickly locate places where I can stock up on package free food. I hope by explaining my process, this saves you a lot of time!
For those of you who live in bigger cities, your options will be a lot greater than the ones who live more rural or in smaller communities. Zero Waste living is just easier for some depending on where you live. Despite where you live, you might be surprised at what you can find with a little bit of internet research.
Yelp is so much more than a tool to locate good eats. This is my go-to for locating bulk stores since I have an Android device. Yelp is wonderful because it will work on any phone and also has a web page. To find bulk stores, I simply search for "bulk food stores", "bulk foods", or "health food stores". The way this app finds stores, is it matches your search criteria with store descriptions and reviews. Any store where someone mentions that bulk options exist, the store will show in the search results. This isn't 100% in locating every single store but it finds a lot of them. I always make sure to review a store and mention bulk when I come across them to ensure that the store will show up the next time someone searches for bulk options. Also, always check out the pictures for the bulk stores you find. It's always nice to see what is "actually" available visually.
Utilize Social Media
Another great way to find bulk locations is to simply ask. Join a Facebook group such as Zero Waste Heroes to see if anyone can point you towards bulk stores in your area. This community is full of many amazing people who make it a priority to spread the word of sustainable living. If you have a question for anything zero waste related, someone will be able to answer it. Also, ask some of your favorite Zero Waste bloggers via their contact pages or their Instagram accounts. Trust me, they live to serve when it comes to zero waste living!
Utilize The National Bulk Week Retailers List
If you have an iPhone, download the Bulk App from Zero Waste Home.
iPhone users rejoice because this app will be your biggest time saver for hunting down stores with bulk options. This app provides a vast database of over 3000 locations, in more than 30 countries: over 1500 location in the US, 400 in France, 300 in Canada, and 145 Australia. You can download it here.
I must note that the future of this app is currently in question as the maintenance and cost was too much for Bea, of Zero Waste Home, and her family to support. It is surprising how much cost is involved in app development. However, she is considering turning the app into a web based user interface that would allow any user with a computer and internet connection to find bulk stores. Follow her website to stay updated!
Explore and Change Your PerceptionWe have all been conditioned to only see packaged food. Once we change that perception of grocery shopping and start looking for package free alternatives, we start noticing just how many options we truly have. I challenge you to go back to your communities' grocery stores and reevaluate what is available with your newly trained eye for unpackaged food.