Decrease your Carbon Footprint by Buying in Bulk

Monday, March 12, 2012
Many packaged foods travel across the globe several times before they finally reach your pantry.
Bulk bins at a market.

Watch the steam rise from your coffee. As you pour a packet of sugar into it, ask yourself, “Where did that sugar come from?”

If you happen to live in Hawaii, you can probably say it was grown around the corner and refined just down the street. But if you want white sugar from that same grower, it also has to be shipped to the California refinery, then to New York for packaging.

By the time it reaches your table in Hawaii, the sugar that was grown around the corner had to travel 10,000 miles to get to you.

Not every food is as extreme as this example, but neither is it uncommon for goods to travel across the country several times before they actually reach you. Every step along this packaging roadway adds more miles to the food we eat.

Among the jungle of boxes, bags and plastic foam in your local market, there often sits an array of bulk bins happily providing food without the excess packaging, which cuts down on emissions and packaging materials. Plus, unlike buying pre-packaged goods, you can get exactly the amount you want. And if the clerk is nice enough, you might even be able to sample what you want before you buy it.

Buying in bulk might be intimidating at first, but the variety of whole foods is often greater than the shelved items in the grocery store and, ultimately, it’s better for the environment.

— Matt Keen, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

FALL 2017
Have questions about a program?
Request information »

More Health Tips

  • There are ways to help treat IBS using safe, natural products, and life-style intervention. 

  • There are many ways to monitor and change your individual risk of heart disease.

  • Purchasing food grown closer to your home will provide great health, economic and environmental benefits.

  • With the number of Type 2 Diabetes patients quickly rising, it's time to start preventing this disease by changing dietary and exercise habits. Dr. Jennifer Pilon sheds some light on how to prevent this disease naturally.
  • Get help decreasing your pesticide exposure without going over budget with the Environmental Working Group's lists of the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen."
  • Adding delicious and healthful anti-inflammatory foods to your diet can help give your body a fighting chance if you suffer from seasonal allergies.