Greener Every Week – Use the Bulk Bins

Use glass jars to store dry goods from the bulk bins

“Greener Every Week” is my ongoing series in which I do one (cheap, easy) thing every week to make my home or lifestyle more healthy & eco-friendly.

Most health food stores have a bulk bin section where you can get dry goods like beans, grains, flour, and even dried fruit in whatever quantity you want. Using these bins is both cost effective and eco friendly because it cuts down on all the extra packaging compared to buying things in boxes or bags. It’s also a really nice way to try just a little bit of certain ingredients.

The trick for me to getting used to shopping the bulk bins was to buy a bunch of jars to keep the stuff organized. A 12-pack of Ball jars is only like ten bucks and you can re-use them indefinitely for all sorts of things. Instead of a pantry full of boxes I now have a bunch of nice organized jars with all sorts of interesting things in them:

(Why yes, I do own a label maker, why do you ask?)

If you own a label maker you can just stick a label on the top or the front (or just use a sharpie if you don’t want to be quite so OCD about it) and then you have a beautiful little list of ingredients right in front of you every time you open the pantry.

Anyone else love the bulk bins as much as I do? Or labeling things as much as I do? As long as I can open up my pantry and see pretty rows of labeled jars I can pretend I’m actually a really tidy person even though my house is a huge mess behind me. I also do it to my spices since my spice rack makes me look at them from above:

When I buy a new jar of whatever spice I just get the same brand and put the old lid on the new jar so I’m not making a million labels.

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  • I love this! For one of my MBA classes we have an Innovation Proposal project where we have to come up with a new and sustainable business idea. We’ve decided to do a 100% bulk grocery store where there are only reusable containers available for customers to store products in. This is exactly how I envisioned someone’s kitchen looking in our model. Simply awesome!

  • Love how organized this looks! My grains sit in that plastic bag in a plastic tote all thrown in there. I have a million ball jars for canning so this is perfect!

  • I just bought some mason jars and I’m ready to tackle the bulk isle.

    I’m kind of OCD about food shelf life so I was wondering, how long do grains, nuts, spicies, flours last one I buy them and jar them? And are there any that you suggest be refrigerated? I know some people refrigerated their flours.


    • I do actually keep my flours in the freezer so they keep longer – everything else (nuts, rice, etc) I keep in jars in the pantry and most of it seems to last at least a few months.

  • I just wanted to drop a quick note to say how much I love your blog! I came across it today via foodgawker (I think?) and have already read all of your posts. Keep it up! I love your Greener Every Week series, too. You have a ton of great tips and ideas, and I appreciate your sharing them.