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Trying to live consciously seems a little bit harder when we do groceries. Most goods come in single-use packaged units at retailers or traditional markets. From the pantry needs to body care, we are used to various sizes of packaged goods. How much plastic waste do we produce in a week? Surely we don’t want to be one of the waste to landfill contributors.

On February 21st, Indonesians will be commemorating the National Waste Awareness Day. The day is set as a reminder of the catastrophic waste avalanche of Leuwigajah Landfill, on the same day in 2006. In order to reminisce the day, join us in supporting the sustainable consumption and production movement by reducing waste from its source.


The Bulkstore & Co., salah satu bulk store di Jakarta. (Sumber: Kompas.com/Hilel Hodawya)

To support your cause in shifting to a less waste lifestyle, doing groceries at a bulk store would be the proper alternative. Bulk stores provide our daily needs in non-packaged goods, so the customers are obliged to bring their own containers. Some people think that buying bulk means taking huge containers home, as we shop at wholesalers. On the contrary, you can measure groceries according to your needs.

A First-Timer’s Guide to Shop at a Bulk Store

The first thing to consider is making a grocery list. Without a list, browsing in a store you’ve never been in before can be a little overwhelming, and you might be going to spend more money than you intend on ingredients that you don’t really need.

You also need to prepare for the groceries containers. If you want to avoid packaging you might want to bring glass jars, containers or reusable produce bags. Use what you have at home, and don’t forget to wash them so that it’ll be ready when you’re going to reuse the containers.


It’s easier to measure your groceries when you use produce bag in a bulk store. (Source: Unsplash/Gaelle Marcel)


If we are used to shopping at supermarkets, shopping at bulk stores can be confusing at first. Supermarkets sell goods with price per unit, while bulk stores measure price based on the weight or size we take. For instance, we’re used to paying x price for a 1 kilo package of sugar. In bulk stores, the price is based on either weight (in grams) or volume (in litres).

In certain bulk stores, aside from foodstuffs, they also sell daily needs such as soap, shampoo, dish soap or detergents. If you’re lucky, you might also see bamboo brush or loofah. Rather than volumes or weight, these things will be sold per unit.

With this payment system, the staff would measure the weight of your containers before you fill it in. For instance, your 50 grams of glass jars is filled with 200 grams of sugar. Then you’ll only have to pay for the 200 grams of the sugar, not with your glass jar weight.

Why Should We Shift to Bulk Stores?

Shopping with your own containers cut the price of unnecessary plastic packaging. When you shop at bulk stores, you would notice how little trash you produce in a week. Without plastic packaging, you also shop cheaper — you purely pay for the product, not the packaging!

Toko Nol Sampah, one of the bulk stores in Bandung. (Source: Beritabaik.id/Djuli Pamungkas)

Bulk stores enable you to measure your daily needs and shopping consciously. This could also reduce food waste from home. Being able to buy in bulk also gives you the versatility to try new products as you can sample small sizes of them before investing in more.

Consumer goods that they sell in bulk stores are mostly homemade. Whether they grow it themselves or supplied from the local farmer, veggies, fruits, spices or daily necessities are eco-friendly and cruelty free. By regularly shopping at bulk stores, not only you reduce your waste, but also support local businesses.

Locally distributed materials also cut down the carbon footprint generated by the retail distribution process. Bulk stores keep your plastic package, waste, and emission to a minimum.

Written by:

Melisa Qonita Ramadhiani


Bold Commerce Collaborator. (2017, July 13). How to Shop At a Bulk Foods Store. Retrieved from Upcycle Studio: https://www.upcyclestudio.com.au/blogs/sustainable-living/how-to-shop-at-a-bulk-foods-store

Miles, L. (2018, January 25). A First-Timer’s Guide to Shopping at Bulk Stores. Retrieved from Treading My Own Path: https://treadingmyownpath.com/2018/01/25/first-time-bulk-store/

Shreeves, R. (2019, April 22). The Many Benefits of Buying Bulk Foods. Retrieved from Treehugger: https://www.treehugger.com/the-many-benefits-of-buying-bulk-foods-4867771

The Source Bulk Foods. (n.d.). Benefits of Buying Bulk Foods. Retrieved February 2021, from The Source Bulk Foods: Zero Waste Blog: https://thesourcebulkfoods.com.au/blog/benefits-of-buying-bulk-foods/

Trost, C. (2016, March). Learn How and Why to Buy Food in Bulk. Retrieved from Scratch Mommy: https://scratchmommy.com/learn-how-and-why-to-buy-food-in-bulk/

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