4 Beauty Brands Breaking the Plastic Mold

Microbeads have been getting a lot of attention recently when it comes to our beauty and care products. We hear why they’re bad (think: tiny plastic pieces directly entering our waterways), but it’s not as easy to identify them. At EarthHero, we do the work to choose products that say no to microbeads, so you can shop assured that your beauty routine will be microbead-free!

From microbeads to packaging, here are four of our favorite companies tackling the ugly side of the beauty industry: plastics.

Plaine Products

True to their name, Plaine Products uses plain & simple ingredients–no microplastic particles allowed. All their personal care formulas are carefully crafted from all-natural, vegan ingredients that are power-packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Instead of using nasty parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, Plaine uses aloe vera as their main ingredient in their hair and skin care, an ingredient long known for its healing and nourishing properties. Our favorite part? Their formulas contain no palm oils, and are designed to easily biodegrade! That means with every wash, you’re actively reducing the amount of non-biodegradable microplastics that go down the drain every day.

Beyond their amazing formulas, they’re taking plastic-free a step further with their innovative 3-step refill system. Step 1: When you shop Plaine Products for the first time, you can choose if you want your 100% aluminum bottle to come with a plastic pump, or not! Step 2: Enjoy! Step 3: When you’ve used up your shampoo/conditioner/hand soap/lotion/whatever, you can ship the bottle back to Plaine Products to be refilled with your favorite product. If you opted for the plastic pump, you’ll keep that to be reused with your new bottle–reducing the amount of plastic used in the long run!

S.W. Basics

S.W. Basics knows that great skincare is about more than just great ingredients–it’s about simplicity. That’s why they use only truly natural and certified organic ingredients, with no GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or other yucky additives. Many of their products proudly flaunt having less than 5 ingredients, inspired by their humble roots as a “handmade in the kitchen” personal care brand.

Exfoliants can be the biggest perpetrators of microplastic pollution (haven’t we all been tempted by that one Pink Grapefruit scrub promising perfect skin)–but S.W Basics is different. Their 3 ingredient exfoliant contains no plastic microbeads, relying instead on organic oat and almond flours with a touch of mineral-rich sea salt to naturally remove dry and dead skin. Plus, unlike normal scrubs, it’s totally customizable to your skin’s needs. Feeling extra dry? Mix the powder with olive oil to moisturize while you scrub. Dealing with acne or troubled skin? Mix the powder with yogurt to neutralize the bacteria that causes pimples. The best part: it’s in a glass bottle, with an aluminum lid–perfect for your plastic-free skincare routine!

Seed Phytonutrients

Fact: the typical American creates 4.4 pounds of waste every day, with 30% of it from packaging. Seed is on a mission to open the world’s eyes to the ugly side of the beauty industry: plastic packaging. They’re making a difference with their innovative shower-friendly bottle, made with recycled materials. The compostable outer sleeve and recyclable inner bladder design is used for their shampoos, conditioners, face washes, and more–which are all crafted from organic ingredients, not plastic chemicals.

They start with post-consumer materials, giving old materials a new life through recycling. A specially designed exterior mold allows the 100% post-consumer paper to become densified, and is coated in clay to become water-resistant. For the interior they take post-consumer plastic, forming it to be an extremely thin layer. Instead of glue, this inner belly interlocks with the exterior paper layer, which can be removed to reveal a packet of seeds (get it… Seed Phytonutrients…) The result? A shower-friendly bottle that’s just as sturdy as the other guys, with 60% less plastic overall. Read more about the ingredients and plastic-free packaging of Seed: here.

Bestowed Essentials

Bestowed Essentials is here to show you that natural is absolutely beautiful. Created by a self-proclaimed hippie, Bestowed Essentials has been earth-focused from the start. The founder, Christianna, started this company with a simple line of all-natural soaps in 2016. She has kept to those ideals, and has grown her beauty line to include charcoal tooth powder, herbal toners, and shampoo bars!

Their inspired products are made without any chemicals or plastics (looking at you, microbeads), from the ingredients to the packaging. Check out their soaps, for example. Not only are they made with all natural ingredients, including essential oils, real fruit, natural extracts, and hydrating seed oils, but they’re packaged in a 100% recycled (and recyclable) box! Their charcoal tooth powder? Packaged in an easy-to-reuse glass jar. Even their bath salts are housed in a 100% biodegradable cellophane bag!

7 Steps to Ditch Plastic

Every year, Americans throw out 32 million tons of plastic trash–trash that won’t ever biodegrade or disappear, but instead will turn into teeny tiny “microplastics” that can cause a massive slew of environmental problems. While some people say plastic can break down after around 500 years, that still means your plastic fast food straw will stick around for the life of your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, (great!) grandchildren. In addition to the sheer volume of plastic pollution created, these plastics contain dangerous toxins like phthalates, BPAs, and flame retardants that can negatively impact your health, and the planet’s health too.

The negative impacts of plastics start from the very beginning. Almost all traditional plastics are made from non-renewable fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, which require intense amounts of energy and releases dangerous toxins when pulled from the earth.

Even at the end of their life, recycling these plastics can be a hazard for workers–and with the Chinese “Green Wall” in place, more and more American recycling centers are unable to sell or utilize any of their recycling, leading to massive buildups of plastic waste, and eventual dumping of recyclables into our landfills to make space. That’s why we suggest you start at the source–cutting out plastic (especially single-use plastics!) from your life one step at a time.

Chico Bag | VITA rePETE shopping bag | EarthHero | 7 Ways to Ditch Plastic Forever

1: Rethink your grocery store trip…

Next time you visit your local grocery, spend a couple of minutes looking around at how much pure waste there is… but also look at how many ways you can reduce your own just by being aware!

Plastic might seem like it’s unavoidable when it comes to food, but hear us out. Looking for peanut butter? Scan the shelves for a glass jar, or bring your own container and try out the bulk PB section (it grinds the peanuts in front of you!) Always go for the pre-portioned salads? Take note of the ingredients and turn to package-free lettuce and bulk cranberries to set you up for multi-meal success! Things to avoid: plastic wrapped pre-cut fruit, pre-portioned snack pouches, and those styrofoam trays holding bacon or chicken (the store butcher will usually use less packaging if you go straight to them!)

Now for the produce bags. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but those flimsy plastic bags you use for your tomatoes are totally avoidable! While we sell these amazing bags made to keep lettuce crisp and almonds dry, you can always turn to using any old rucksack, or you can turn your old t-shirts into a homemade produce bag!

And, of course, let’s all just say “no” to single-use plastic at checkout. Grocery bags–we’re lookin’ at you! You only use them for about 10 minutes, but every plastic bag that’s been created will last at least another 500 years in the landfill. Even then, they just become microscopic bits that still become a part of the food chain. Keep our future food clean, and turn to reusable bags instead! Not only do they reduce the amount of plastic in your life, but they’re a lot less likely to end up ripping apart and dropping all your groceries, which we love. Let’s face it: do you really need more plastic bags stored under your sink?

Plastic Microbeads | Single Use Plastics | EarthHero | 7 Ways to Ditch Plastic Forever

2: Opt out of plastic microbeads…

Just because you don’t (usually) see microplastics, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But–what is a microbead you ask? Plastic microbeads are itty bitty plastic pieces, usually two millimeters or less. They usually contain a cocktail of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or nylon (aka all plastic). For reasons we don’t quite grasp here at EarthHero, some companies have taken these dangerous microplastic particles and added them to nearly everything. Shampoos, conditioners, face washes, body washes, lotions, lip glosses, nail polishes, toothpastes, and even anti-aging creams and makeups nowadays contain thousands of microbeads that will *never* biodegrade. Yuck. 

Part of the issue is that the very same products that contain these microplastics are also those that come in contact with water the most–like when you hop in the ocean after applying sunscreen, or rinse out your shampoo in the shower. Most wastewater treatment plants are unable to filter out these microscopic plastics, leaving them to build up in our oceans, lakes, and waterways. From there, fish and other marine animals can consume the microplastic pieces, mistaking them for edible fish eggs or plankton. Once those plastic pieces get inside their bodies, the dangerous toxins are absorbed into their tissues–which poses a huge problem if humans later harvest that fish for consumption. This is because microplastics can absorb toxic pollutants such as flame retardants and pesticides, which become “bio-accumulated”, as they get passed up the food chain. Put simply: if a fish consumes a piece of plastic, it might have .5% toxin level. But if a larger fish comes and consumes the fish that already had a toxin level of .5%, the larger fish now bio-accumulates the chemicals, and could have a toxin level of nearly ten times that original amount, or 5%. Bio-accumulation also occurs in humans, so by consuming fish that contains high concentrations of microplastics, we’re setting ourselves up for some crazy chemicals in our bodies.

But, how do you know if microplastics are in your products, and how can you avoid them entirely? Luckily in the USA, the FDA requires products with microbeads in them to have their full ingredients listed. Start by checking the products you already have for these ingredients: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)–these are all indicators you’ve been tricked into using plastic microbeads!

In 2015, the USA pushed for federal legislation to ban microbeads, and succeeded–setting the stage for other countries worldwide to create similar bans. Despite this ban, there’s still a lot of products out on our planet with microbeads in it, so we suggest you always double check for plastic ingredients, and shop with certified organic companies whenever possible. We’ve broken down 4 of our favorite microbead-free brands here!

Khala Cloths | Plastic Free Nontoxic Food storage | 7 Ways to Ditch Plastic | EarthHero

3: Package your food like a pro…

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly ⅓ of food created for humans to consume is lost or wasted globally–which amounts to 1.3 billion tons each year! In order to reduce this insane amount of food waste, various forms of food storage have popped up, from plastic seran wraps to resealable plastic baggies… but these single-use plastics can be even worse than the food waste they’re trying to prevent.

Simply changing the way you store leftovers, meal prep, and pack school lunches can have a massive impact on the amount of plastic waste your home creates. Tired of restaurants giving you non-recyclable styrofoam tupperwares with your leftovers? Bring your own toxin-free stainless steel container instead. Plastic-y seran wrap getting stuck in a useless ball? Swap it out with reusable (up to a year) beeswax wrap!

While avoiding single-use food packaging outside of the grocery store can seem like a hassle, the first step is simple: put your reusable containers in your car/purse/bike bag/spaceship/whatever takes you from point A to point B. That way, when you’re eating out and about, all you have to do is bring it in with you! When you’re at home, keep your reusable containers clean, organized, and ready-to-go–so if you’re running out of the house you can toss last night’s leftovers in a plastic-free container. By simply planning ahead you can stop hundreds of thousands of pounds of food-storage pollution from heading to our landfills!

Simply Straws Glass Straws | EarthHero | 7 Ways to Ditch Plastic

4: Refuse single-use…

If you’re a fan of following zero-wasters, you might be hit with single-use plastic facts constantly, like the always shocking “500 million plastic straws are used each day.” But how can we change these single-use statistics, before it’s too late? Refusing single-use plastics is one of the easiest, and most impactful, things you can do every single day. From bringing your own water bottle on-the-go, to saying no to plastic samples at the store, and of course bringing your own reusable straw, there’s no shortage of ways to ditch single-use plastics.

Check out our top 7 products to help you go from single-use to reusables here!

tentree sierra crossback romper | EarthHero | 7 Ways to Ditch Plastic

5: Search for plastic in your clothing…

We don’t want to alarm you, but there might be plastic touching you… right… this… moment! That’s right, it could be in your clothes! Synthetic fabrics like polyester, though they offer a unique alternative to growing cotton, contain non-biodegradable microplastics that are quite similar to those found in personal care. With every single wash in the washing machine hundreds of thousands of these little microfibers go down the drain, and due to their size, go past the filters and straight to our waterways and oceans. Much like the story of personal care microbeads, these polyester pieces can become consumed by animals, and can be potentially consumed by us–essentially meaning we’re eating our own pollution.

According to a study by the IUCN, roughly 15%-31% of marine plastic pollution comes from products commonly found in the home, instead of from larger plastic items that break down slowly over time. Additionally, they calculate that 35% of that above microplastic pollution comes from synthetic textiles–with hundreds of pounds of microplastics funneling into our oceans each week, globally. This number is so shocking, it can make you want to never buy clothes again! Trust us, keep your clothes on… just shop microplastic-free with ethical companies that use natural materials like hemp or organic cotton!

EarthHero | BioBag Plant Based Plastic | 7 Steps to Ditch Plastic

6: As a last resort, switch to recycled content, biodegradable or plant-based “plastics”…

Do you know what happens to your used plastic garbage bags after you use them? Or the thin seran wrap film that keeps your produce fresh? What about those tricky plastic products labeled with the recycling symbol “#7 Other” (what does that even mean!)?

Just because something is plastic, doesn’t mean it can be recycled–in fact, most plastics films end up in our landfills, where they will stay for centuries without truly degrading or composting. And if they do degrade, we learned above that they can degrade into dangerous microplastics that can travel through waterways, and into the bellies and habitats of various animals.

Don’t panic: there’s tons of awesome companies out there finding innovative ways to make things that look, feel, and act like plastic–without all the fossil fuels, chemicals, and health-disrupting additives that classic plastics contain. Because the truth is, for some things, we haven’t found a better way to do it for certain situations (doggy poo bags, we’re looking at you!) without giving up something important. From biodegradable trash bags made from plant resins, to plant-based toothbrush bristles, and even non-toxic children’s building blocks made from sugarcane resin, “bioplastics” are sweeping the eco-industry. Our final verdict? Compostable and biodegradable bioplastics are awesome when they’re produced the right way… but we always recommend you look for a plastic-free or reusable option first before making the switch.

We include recycled content plastic here because we think it’s a step in the right direction towards a circular economy and away from a single-use plastic system. There’s tons of plastic on our planet that we’re going to need to find something to do with… so recycling and upcycling it into new, usable products can add more value to its (often short) lifespan!

Compostable Tampons | Tampon Tribe | EarthHero | 7 Steps to Ditch Plastic

7: De-plastic your personal hygiene…

Did you know that menstruating Americans use 7 billion single-use plastic tampons and 12 billion pads every year? From raw materials to production to packaging, these necessary hygiene and care products create a huge environmental impact–polluting our landfills, waterways, and even our bodies. Our motto is: if you wouldn’t want to put it in a landfill, you definitely shouldn’t be putting it in your body.

There’s three ways most people discard of their plastic tampons–in the trash, recycling (aka the trash–you can’t recycle those), or the toilet (aka also the trash). Out of all of these options, flushing is by far the worst. In 2009 alone, The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Project found 20,000 tampon applicators out of the 4 million pieces of plastic waste they collected. These 20,000 applicators will take 25 years or more to break down once they reach the ocean, that is, if they aren’t eaten by marine life who think they’re a tasty snack! Beyond the environmental impacts, flushing your tampon itself can break your plumbing, since cotton can grow to over 15x its original size in water, and take at least 6 months to biodegrade. So, even if the sustainable swaps we suggest aren’t for you–whatever you do, do not flush it!

When it comes to recycling tampon applicators, what you’re really doing is just adding another step before it ends up in the trash. Most recycling facilities can’t recognize and sort pieces of plastic the size of tampon applicators, so they end up either contaminating other recycled materials, or headed to the landfill anyways. So, if you’re still using traditional plastic tampons, save the folks at your recycling some time and energy by simply throwing that applicator away!

Beyond the mess of pollution and waste that traditional personal care can create, there’s also a number of serious health impacts correlated with most tampons. Those perfumed and scented tampons aren’t actually infused with rainbows, flowers, and pixie dust–but rather dangerous chemicals that shouldn’t be in any product, much less one that goes there. When you use scented tampons, you’re actually killing the beneficial bacteria down there, allowing bad bacteria to overgrow and cause serious issues like bacterial vaginosis and toxic shock syndrome (ew!) Your time of the month is how your body cleans itself, so let it do its natural thing!

Now that we’ve talked about how not to handle your period, let’s dive into all the amazing, innovative ways you can celebrate your body, and the planet during this time of the month. Whether your jam is compostable tampons, non-applicator tampons, a DivaCup, plastic-free cloth or cotton pads, or even a specially designed sea sponge, by not purchasing plastic packaged tampons you’re reducing the 300 pounds of feminine hygiene products that person can create in a lifetime! Check out our time-of-the-month go-to, Tampon Tribe, here! 

How have you permanently ditched plastics in your life? Comment below!

 

Product Breakdown: Seed Phytonutrients

EarthHero Seed Phytonutrients
The core team behind Seed Phytonutrients. From left: Lea Koussoulis, Brad Farrell, Shane Wolf, Scott Schienvar.

Say hello to Seed Phytonutrients, a young company with some seriously old-school values. Founded in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with a little help from their good friends over at L’Oreal, this mission-driven beauty and personal care company is planting the seeds of health, well-being, and sustainability with every one of their innovative products.

Seed’s philosophy is simple. Everything they do as a company furthers their four brand obsessions–from minimal plastic packaging to sustainable business practices. Join us below as we break down what gives this brand the EarthHero seal of approval–plus, a Q & A with our founder, Ryan Lewis and Brad Farrell from Seed!

 

Seed Phytonutrients | EarthHero | Product Breakdown

Obsession #1: Promoting Natural Beauty

Seed knows that natural beauty and healthy living go hand in hand. How you feel and what you choose to put into, and onto, your body has a huge impact on the way we look and treat ourselves! That’s why Seed uses the natural power of seeds as the main ingredients in their products, as seeds contain naturally occurring high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, phytosterols, carotene, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. By using the cold press and expeller method to extract these nutrients from the seed, they maintain the true integrity of the plant, with the highest levels of purity. This creates sulphate-free, plant based, cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, and paraben-free formulas, with a delicate natural fragrance and natural ingredients (that’s a mouthful!). After the seed goes through the cold presser, Seed Phytonutrients returns whatever pulp is left to their farmers to be used as organic feed for animals.

 

Seed Phytonutrients | EarthHero

Obsession #2: Leading Environmental Sustainability

As non-recyclable plastic pollution becomes a bigger and bigger problem for our planet, companies like Seed Phytonutrients and partner Ecologic have stepped up to revolutionize plastic-packaged personal care. Their revolutionary shower-friendly bottles feature a 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard and compostable exterior coated with minerals from clay to be waterproof, alongside a thin, post-consumer recycled plastic liner that can be recycled at the end of its life. The result? Shampoo and conditioner bottles contain 60% less plastic than most typical personal care bottles. The interior plastic is so thin, 95% thinner than conventional plastic bottles, that it actually collapses as it’s used!

Plus, they use plastic-free recycled and recyclable packaging wherever possible–such as balms, serums, and soaps. When paired with EarthHero’s recycled and recyclable cardboard shipping packaging, you get a truly zero waste shower experience!

Seed Phytonutrients | EarthHero

Obsession #3: Supporting Independent American Organic Farmers

To become a certified organic farm here in America, you need to wait up to a whopping 3 years after switching over to organic practices before you can market the yield as certified organic. This can create financial risk for the farmer, and that paired with the high startup costs of switching to organic in the first place often leads to farmers switching back to conventional agriculture. Seed wanted to support the brave organic farmers that are putting their livelihood on the line for the sake of the planet, and dedicated their business model to doing just that. By paying for the seeds and 100% of their farmers crops up front, regardless of yield, they allow the farmers to reinvest in their farms and plan for future crops–instead of worrying about their current yield.

Independent farmers like Linda Shanahan and Eric Vander Hyde of Barefoot Botanicals grow some of the sunflowers used for Seed Phytonutrients’ products that contain sunflower seed oil. Their farm, just two miles away from Seed’s Doylestown headquarters, gets regular visits from the Seed team, who pays a fair, pre-negotiated price upon planting. This lets Linda and Eric plan for the future, increasing the long-term sustainability of organic farming. At the end of the day, it’s about so much more than just high-quality skin and hair care products–it’s about the family owned farms all over our country.

Seed Phytonutrients | EarthHero

Obsession #4: Preserving Seed Diversity

Did you know that over the last 100 years, we’ve lost 94% of our planet’s seed diversity? Diversity, in both plant and animal species, is highly important because it is that diversity that protects them from insects and pests, diseases, changes in climate, and natural disaster. Through their partnership with Hudson Valley Seed Company, Seed Phytonutrients is taking on seed diversity by putting a little surprise in every compostable shower-friendly bottle. You guessed it, it’s seeds! After you’ve used up all the product in your bottle, remove and compost the post-consumer cardboard exterior to reveal a packet of heirloom herb seeds, such as sweet basil, thyme, lemon basil, and wild arugula.

Hudson Valley Seed Company, founded by Ken Greene, was founded off of a revolutionary idea to preserve seed diversity: create a library of seeds to share with the community. Originally called the Hudson Valley Seed Library, Ken and his partner, Doug Muller, have been purveying organic, heirloom, and open-pollinated plants since 2008. They commission artists to design beautiful covers for their seed packets and include planting instructions and a brief history of the plant itself to go inside Seed’s shower-friendly bottles. The varieties chosen are easy to grow with any climate, soil, or experience level–with hopes that these little seed packs will open someones eyes to the importance of farming. In the words of Ken, “Whether a person plants the seeds or gives them to someone else, I hope they’ll take a moment to read the pack and think about where seeds come from,” he says. “Even when you’re buying a bottle of shampoo that has plant essences in it, before the farmer, there was a seed.”

Q & A with Brad Farrell

EarthHero | Seed Phytonutrients Founder | Q & A

We love everything the forward-thinking folks are doing over at Seed Phytonutrients, so we invited them to EarthHero office in Boulder, Colorado to chat about some of the awesome initiatives they’re working with! Watch the full interview between our founder, Ryan Lewis, the VP of Global Brand Marketing at Seed, Brad Farrell below.

10 Tips to Buy in Bulk

How to Buy in Bulk (and save money doing it!)

Bulk shopping: it’s all about saving money and reducing plastic packaging. But, if it’s done the wrong way, it can end up costing you twice as much and creating just as much waste! From using PLU numbers, to understanding price-per-unit, we’re breaking down how to get some serious bulk bargains on everything from everyday food to specialty essential oils.

According to the Bulk is Green Council, buying in bulk at the grocery store can save you up to 89% compared to purchasing plastic packaged foods. You may not realize it, but you’re paying for all that fancy packaging! And, on top of the savings you’ll see at checkout, most popular bulk food stores have a quick food turnover, leaving you with fresher grains, and an overall fresher meal. Things like spices, which can be pretty pricey and lose flavor over time, can be cheaper and fresher if you can find them in bulk. Plus, there’s often plenty or exciting options in the bulk aisle that can help you get creative in the kitchen! While your pre-packaged grain section may just have your classic jasmine rice and white rice, it’s common to find unique alternatives in the bulk section–think bamboo rice, volcanic rice, black barley, and more!

So now that you know why… let’s tackle how. Bulk shopping can be super easy with the right tools, knowledge, and practice!

How to Buy in Bulk | EarthHero

1. Stay Organized: 

A successful bulk run starts with proper planning. Keep a “bulk shopping” notebook, where you track what you’re purchasing, meal planning, food budgeting, and more! Don’t have your recycled paper notepad handy? Use your camera-phone to take photos of the shelf tags of bulk food so you can remember the price per pound, and then compare prices to get the best deal! Using your phone is also great for some simple reasons–like keeping a grocery list, or looking up recipes.

 

10 Tips to Buy in Bulk | EarthHero | Produce Bags

2. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags!): 

From produce bags to mason jars, there’s no shortage of plastic-free ways to buy in bulk. Plan ahead: what do you plan on getting at the store, and what kind of bag or bin would be best to take it home in? If you’re getting grains, lightweight produce bags are an awesome option. For cheese from the cheesemonger we love non-toxic stainless steel, while liquids like olive oil or vinegar tend to do best in a leak-proof mason jar or recycled plastic container.

 

10 Tips to Buy in Bullk | EarthHero | PLU

3. Price-per-unit: 

One of the goals of bulk shopping is to save some cash, but if you misread the cost-per-unit, it can end up getting pricey. To calculate correctly, make sure you really understand what that price means. The “unit” is the amount of a product you’re getting, usually in pounds or ounces, depending on what you’re buying. Use the nearby scales to weigh as you go, putting in one scoop of food at a time so that you only get as many “units” as you need. To get your price, multiply the number of units by the price-per-unit, and wah-lah, that’s the cost! Luckily, most markets (even traditional grocery stores) show the “price per pound” or “price per ounce” right on the price tag. 

 

10 Tips to Buy in Bulk | EarthHero

4. Read Carefully: 

At larger bulk stores, the label will tell you if that bulk product is organic, where it was grown or produced, and occasionally what company produced it. Just because it’s available in bulk, doesn’t always mean its a certified organic product, or GMO-free. Cookies, candies, and sweets are usually still those classic, sugary treats you love, just in earth-friendly plastic-free packaging! Make sure to read the label, carefully, to ensure you know what you’re buying (before you scoop out a few pounds of it!)

 

10 Tips to Buy in Bulk | EarthHero | Refill revolution

5. PLU – Learn it, Love it, Use it: 

Most bulk stores, whether it be food, personal care, or cleaning products, will have a PLU (aka Price Look-Up Code) number. The clerk will need this PLU number when you checkout, so make sure to jot it down in a visible spot on the bag, label, or twist-tie. Some bulk storage products even come with a handy-dandy spot to add your PLU number! Bonus points if you bring an oil pencil or permanent marker to avoid extra stickers or ties. Writing down your PLU codes gets you in-and-out of the checkout lane faster, and makes ringing you up a little easier on the clerk. Keep in mind, if you’re buying multiple types of one product (like multiple types of rice), you may want to add the item’s name with the PLU. Varieties of flour, soap, and nuts can end up all looking the same when you get home if you’re not careful!

 

10 Tips to Shop in Bulk | EarthHero | Tare Weight

6. Take it One Pound at a Time: 

Unless you’re only able to make it to your bulk store a few times a year, only get as much food as you could actually eat in a certain time frame. Even though most bulk items keep pretty well–things can still go rancid or end up with bugs if you’re not careful, and there’s nothing worse than tossing the 5 pounds of cashews that you wanted to stock up on! As you get used to shopping in bulk, it’ll start feeling more natural to guesstimate serving sizes. We all know a handful of uncooked pasta can look like the perfect portion, then end up being way too much! So, take it slow, get only what you need (and like!), and start making mental notes of how much your family actually eats.

 

How to Buy in Bulk | earthHero | Whole Foods Bulk Section

7. Keep an Eye Out: 

Tons of bulk stores, or sometimes even your local large grocery stores, have useful take-home information in their bulk sections, from recipes, to DIY personal care, and even deals and coupons on more bulk items! Grab what you need, and keep them in your planning notebook at home for future use. Keep in mind, you won’t automatically have cooking instructions like you would on packaged grains or pastas, so you’ll need to figure out cooking times on your own. Don’t know how long your jasmine rice takes to cook? Just do a quick search–the internet can be super helpful!

 

EarthHero | How to buy in bulk | Meal and grocery planning

8. Plan your Pantry: 

If you’re anything like us, you’ve seen tons of perfectly planned pantries on Instagram, with rows of spotless mason jars filled to the brim with package-free snacks and goodies. While it looks absolutely adorable, there’s also a practical purpose behind this bulk trick! While reusable produce bags and stainless steel cans are great for buying in bulk, they’re not the best for storage (unless you’re fine not seeing what’s inside). Save and re-use the non-bulk food jars you have, and label and date them when you fill them with bulk, so you know exactly what’s in each jar, and when it’ll go bad. There’s no need to spend money on new jars when you can salvage them from salsas, pasta sauces, and jams of weeks past! Sometimes it’s helpful to use sticker labels so that you can reuse your jars for different items. Pro tip: to get those pesky old labels off your glass jars (and make them totally Pinterest ready!), soak them in warm water and soap, using a scrubbie or your fingernail to pull away the sticker. 

 

10 Tips to Buy in Bulk | earthHero | Mason Jars

9. Research First: 

Did you know that nearly any whole-grain flour, as well as seeds and nuts, will keep longer in the fridge or freezer than in the pantry? Or, if your pantry shelves are exposed to light, you should get opaque storage containers instead of glass to protect your food from being damaged? A little research can go a long way in learning what items should be stored whree. While it may seem like added work, there’s always resources out there to make shopping in bulk a breeze. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll feel like second nature.

 

10 Tips to Buy in Bulk | EarthHero | Mason Jar Bulk

10. Do What You Can: 

If you live in a rural area, or even some cities, it may be pretty hard to find a bulk food store, much less non-food bulk products like laundry detergent or essential oils! Don’t fret–there’s still a bunch of ways you can reduce the amount of plastic you take home from the grocery. Opt for things without plastic packaging whenever possible, like whole fruit instead of pre-sliced fruit in plastic bins, or glass jars instead of plastic jars. Or, if you have a few staples you know you’ll go through quickly, buy them in larger family size packages to cut down on overall packaging.  This will reduce the amount of recycling, and trash, you create–and give you some awesome empty containers for trying your hand at DIY, saving leftovers, or for the next time you go bulk shopping.

Our favorite way to shop bulk? With local Boulder, Colorado bulk personal care + essential oils store, Refill Revolution! No matter where you live (USA, Canada, and even Great Britain!), you can ship her your empty containers to be filled with some awesome bulk goodies–everything from laundry detergent to eye makeup remover. Plus, you can buy empty glass containers to help your next trip to the bulk grocery store!